14 January 2008 16:10 [Source: ICIS news]
By Nigel Davis
LONDON (ICIS news)--?xml:namespace>
The EU wants to promote carbon dioxide emission reductions and greater biofuels use in the transport fuels mix. Some companies have grasped the opportunity to show just how green they are.
But how do
Currently, not well. The once-great enthusiasm for biofuels has waned. More are concerned about the impact of biofuels production on delicate eco-systems and food markets.
The European Parliament is expected on Monday, in a debate on fuel quality legislation, to vote on a report backed by its environment committee calling for demonstrable carbon dioxide life cycle savings from biofuels.
The report says biofuels must deliver carbon dioxide savings of at least 50% versus fossil fuels if they are to count towards the EU’s biofuels target.
The EU outlined last year in its Energy Policy Review the raising of its biofuels use target to 10% of all transport fuels by 2020.
It thinks that target can be achieved using first-generation products.
But the EU’s 5% biofuels target has already raised very real issues of biofuels standards. And it is not linked to a demonstrable climate change effect. It also does not take into consideration land use, planning or other sustainability objectives.
A policy shift appears likely. Proposals for a review of the EU’s biofuels directive are due to be published by the European Commission on 23 January.
Calls for a change to the current objectives are growing.
“Biofuels risk failing to deliver significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from transport and could even be environmentally damaging unless the Government puts the right policies in place,”
The national scientific academy wants legislation to encourage fuels that deliver the best greenhouse gas savings.
EU and national European legislation has not missed the point. It has encouraged greater biofuels production and use in the transport fuel mix alongside greenhouse gas benefits.
But current laws appear to be based on the assumption that all biofuels are good. The EU will struggle this year to decide how its member states might encompass clearer greenhouse gas savings and sustainable land use into law.
The Royal Society’s report calls for biofuels to be assessed and certified for the greenhouse gas savings they will deliver as well as their positive and negative social and environmental impacts.
"We must not create new environmental or social problems in our efforts to deal with climate change,” says Professor John Pickett, chair of the biofuels study.
“Unless certification is applied to the production of all biofuels and is a system used by all countries we will merely displace rather than remedy the potentially negative effects of these fuels."
The EC believes that biofuels could make up 14% of transport fuels across
“Biofuels are not the silver bullet for meeting the rising demand for transport while tackling emissions,” the Royal Society report says.
It has joined a growing band calling for change to EU biofuels legislation and for carbon capture goals to be incorporated in the region’s alternative fuel targets.
It is important that the EC and other groups promote biofuels for the right reason: that is to protect the environment, not to offer price support and guaranteed markets to farmers.
Biofuels are a welcome addition to the energy mixture but their wider use cannot be sanctioned at any cost.
Bookmark Simon Robinson’s Big Biofuels Blog for some independent thinking on biofuels
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