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EU Energy Policy:
- Biofuels - Promotion & Sustainability

Updated: July 2012

Index of this Page:

» Certification of Biofuels - Voluntary Schemes. Read
» Biofuels Flightpath Initiative. Read

» Indirect Land Use Change - critera for sustainable biofuels? Read

· Biofuels - EU Policy and Sustainable Criteria, 2012. Read

· INFORSE-Recommendations, 2007. Read

· Past EU Policy and Directives on Biofuels, 2007. Read
· Implementation of RES-T directives, 2003/30 & 2003/96. Read

· Content & Process of Directives 2003/30 and 2003/96. Read

· Original Proposal, Spring 2002. Read

Under the Renewable Energy Directive (2009/28/EC, text), the share of renewable energy in the transport sector rises to a minimum 10% in every Member State in 2020 (Directive 2003/30/EC established a goal of 5.75% in 2010). The Directive aims to ensure the use of sustainable biofuels only, which generate a clear and net GHG saving without negative impact on biodiversity and land use.

Certification Schemes of Biofuels
Since 19 July 2011, the EC has recognised voluntary schemes that applies directly in 27 EU Member States. Schemes include the Assessment report and the Commission Implementing Decision. Biofuels that is certified by any of these schemes qualify as sustainable biofuels for fulfilling the EU target of 10% renewable energy in transport by 2020.

- ISCC (International Sustainability and Carbon Certification)
- Bonsucro EU
- RTRS EU RED (Round Table on Responsible Soy EU RED)
- RSB EU RED (Roundtable of Sustainable Biofuels EU RED)
- 2BSvs (Biomass Biofuels voluntary scheme)
- RBSA (Abengoa RED Bioenergy Sustainability Assurance)
- Greenergy (Greenergy Brazilian Bioethanol verification programme)
- Ensus voluntary scheme under RED for Ensus bioethanol production

Find here more information about the voluntary schemes.

Biofuels Flight path Initiative, 2011
The EC, in coordination with Airbus, leading European airlines and key European biofuel producers have launched in 2011 the European Advanced Biofuels Flight path Initiative, a roadmap to achieve a annual production of two million tonnes of sustainable produced biofuel for aviation in 2020. This voluntary commitment aims to support and promote the production, storage and distribution of sustainably produced biofuels for use in aviation and to support the construction of advanced biofuel production plants. Read more detailed information in the technical paper presented on 18 May 2011.

Indirect Land Use Change - Criteria for Sustainable Biofuels?
After a public consultation on October, on 22 December 2010, the European Commission (EC) published a report on indirect land use change related to biofuels and bioliquids. See it here.
The report recognises that indirect land use change can reduce greenhouse gas emissions savings associated with biofuels and announces that the EC will conduct an impact assessment, thereby taking into consideration potential changes to the existing legislation. The impact assessment was planned for mid-2011, but have been delayed several times, and was not launched before the summer 2012. This might be because of the large impacts on evaluation of sustainability of biomass that inclusion of indirect land-use change might have.

Read the public consultation (pdf 23 kB)
the INFORSE-Europe’s Opinion on Indirect Land Use Change Impacts of Biofuels (pdf 36 kB)

Biofuels - EU Policy and Sustainable Criteria

In June 2010 the EU Commission adopted a package on sustainability criteria of biofuels to fulfil the transport target in the 2009 renewable energy directive. The package, two communications and one decision, shall help to ensure that production of these biofuels generates at least 35% less greenhouse gas than producing fossil auto-fuel and that it does so without damaging the environment. The sustainability criteria are taken from the renewable-energy directive (articles 17,18, 19). These criteria are related to greenhouse gas savings, land with high biodiversity value, land with high carbon stock and agro-environmental practices. There are no criteria for indirect land-use change, but the Commission is considering adding such criteria later.

NGOs have been critical of the package. For instance, the European Environmental Bureau and others are deeply concerned about the Commission's failure to address expansion of agricultural land into environmentally sensitive areas, leading to environmental problems via indirect land-use change. The criteria apply since December 2010. To ensure that the entire biofuels' production and supply chain is sustainable, the sustainability of biofuels needs to be checked by Member States or through voluntary schemes which have been approved by the European Commission (EC).

Moratorium for Unsustainable Biofuel
December 30, 2008
EU Must Promote Sustainable Biofuel use Now!!
INFORSE-Europe's Call for Moratorium for Unsustainable Biofuel Now!!

Read INFORSE-Europe's position (pdf file 29 kB)

Sustainability Criteria for Biofuels
January 2008

The EU Energy & Climate Package (January 2008) includes targets renewable energy in transport, and proposals for sustainability criteria for biofuels.
Read more at the EU Energy & Climate Package.


(24/10 2007)
INFORSE-Europe calls for an immediate moratorium on incentives for agrofuels (liquid fuels from large-scale monoculture agriculture) in EU countries including tree plantations and a moratorium on EU imports of such agrofuels.

We also call for the immediate change of all targets for biofuel use in transportation to targets for sustainable transportation, such as targets for transport energy from sustainable renewable energy, energy efficiency increases, reductions of unnecessary transport, and shifts to more environmentally benign forms of transport.

This call for a moratorium for agrofuels does not include the use of biofuels in truly sustainable ways, such as the replacement of imported fossil fuels by the local use of sustainably produced biofuels.

Read: Press Release - 24.10.2007 (pdf file 172 kB) and Statement (pdf file 82 kB).

INFORSE-Europe calls for the change of the EU target for 10% biofuels in transportation fuels by 2020 is changed to a target for renewable energy in transport

INFORSE-Europe proposes that the EU targets for 5.75% renewables in transport by 2010 and 10% biofuels in transport are not met with mandatory blending of biofuels (including agrofuels) into petrol and diesel. Instead countries should start their transitions to sustainable transport systems with efficient use of energy, sustainable use of renewable energy including use of renewable electricity, modal shifts, and limit transport to cost-effective levels, without subsidies and inclusion of external costs. These transitions must meet the targets of respectively 5.75% and 10% reductions by 2010 and 2020 of transport-related greenhouse gas emissions, in addition to already agreed increases of energy and climate efficiencies in transport.

INFORSE supports sustainable use of renewable energy, also in transport. As part of that biofuels must be sustainable, and INFORSE-Europe have proposed sustainability criteria (pdf file 128 kB), but the simple application of sustainability criteria is not enough to guarantee sustainability of production, partly because of lack of efficient implementation, partly because of other land-use changes caused by introduction of biofuels. This is why INFORSE-Europe in addition have decided to call for a moratorium as described above.

Past EU Policy and Directives on Biofuels
In 2003, the EU countries agreed two directives to increase the use of renewable energy in transport to an indicative target (reference value) of 5.75% by 2010. An interim target (reference value) of 2% in 2005 was not met; but the directive and policies have lead to large increases in use of liquid biofuels in transport, and with the current development it is possible, though not certain, that the 2010 target will be met. The vast majority of policies and support have been directed towards liquid biofuels for cars as a partly replacement of petrol and diesel. In a few countries biogas is also introduced in transport, e.g. in Sweden. Use of renewable electricity, that could replace normal electricity in trains and trams, have received less attention.

In March 2007, the EU Prime ministers agreed to a 10% target of biofuels by 2020, as part of a new energy policy for Europe; but no target for other forms of renewable energy in transport. In With the decision is mentioned that the biofuel has to be provided sustainable. This agreement will now be translated in a legal proposal by the EU Commission, probably as part of the Renewable Energy Framework Directive planned for December 5, 2007 and with a fuel tax directive.

In parallel to these processes, the EU Commission is working on sustainability criteria for biofuels.

Read EU Commission page on renewable energy /biofuels in transport

Implementation of RES-T directives, 2003/30 & 2003/96
The deadline for the implementation and setting of national targets were July 2004.
The implementation have had the largest effect in Germany that have given full exemption of excise duties for biofuels from Jan. 1, 2004. Also Austria has a petroleum tax exemption for pure biofuels.
UK has introduced a tax reduction of 20 pence/liter (138 €/m3) which is giving a substantial boost to the development.
France and Italy have quota systems for biofuels linked with some tax deduction. In Italy the quota is doubled since 2001, and the use of biofuels is increased similarly. In France the limited quota has limited the development of biofuels, and there were not increase in the use 2002-2003.
More countries are expected to improve the market conditions for biofuels while other, such as Denmark, have no tax reductions for biofuels and does not expect any increase in the use of it, in spite of the new directives.

Apparently no country have specified environmental criteria for production of biofuels as proposed by INFORSE-Europe. While the production has to follow normal agricultural environmental standards, the increased use of the relative intensive biofuels can unfortunately be expected to increase pollution from agriculture.

Read more about biofuels development of at The EurObserv'ER Baromenter

Content & Process of Directives 2003/30 and 2003/96

Following the EU ministers‘ agreement about a biofuels directive in November 2002, the EU Parliament agreed in March 2003 in its second reading to a resolution with a few proposals:
· It underlines the extension of the scope of the directive to all renewable fuels in transport (not just biofuels) by calling for national reports on the progress in introduction of renewable energy in transport.
· It calls for inclusion of pure vegetable oil in the definitions of biofuels.

With this, two of INFORSE-Europe's proposals have been integrated, but the directive still provides insufficient incentives to the use of pure vegetable oil and should address more strongly possible environmental problems of the production of biofuels.

In November'02 the EU countries reached an agreement about the proposal, including that targets should be indicative, not binding. The EU countries finally agreed to the directive in the beginning of April'03, after the second reading of the Parliament in March'03.

Original Proposal

The directives were proposed by the Commission spring 2002.

The directives promote biofuels for car fuel. This is fuel from agricultural products such as plant oils, plant oil methyl-ester (including rape-seed methyl ester - ROME), methanol, ethanol, ETBE. The directives propose national targets for biofuels as well as reduced vehicle fuel taxes for biofuels. The targets, are indicative and the vehicle fuel tax reduction is voluntary. The directive sets a "reference value" for national targets of 2% in 2005 and 5.75% in 2010.
See directive text COM(2001)0547.

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