EU reaches tentative cap on food-based biofuels -sources

Source: By Barbara Lewis, Reuters • Posted: Thursday, April 2, 2015

BRUSSELS, April 1 (Reuters) – The European Union reached a tentative deal on Wednesday on a 7 percent limit on how much crop-based biofuel can be used in the transport sector, EU sources said.

The agreement on a legal text, thrashed out by representatives of the European Commission, the parliament and member states follows years of argument on traditional biofuels, which were once seen as environmental, but are now considered to do more harm than good.

Wednesday’s compromise deal should mark almost the final stage in establishing a new piece of EU law, although it still needs official endorsement.

 The Environment Committee of the European Parliament will vote on it on April 14 and then a plenary session of the parliament will have to endorse it, parliamentary sources said.

Current legislation requires EU member states to ensure that renewable sources account for at least 10 percent of energy in transport by 2020.

But research has shown the damage caused by many crop-based biofuels, such as those from maize and rapeseed.

Apart from driving up food prices, using farmland to produce biofuels adds to pressure to free up land through deforestation, which can result in increased greenhouse gas emissions.

Those seeking to promote a new generation of advanced biofuels made from seaweed or waste favoured a tighter limit on traditional biofuels. The parliament had also called for a 6 percent limit.

But the European Council of member states held out for 7 percent, while those who have invested in biofuels made from crops say too low a cap would put jobs at risk.

Bioethanol lobby ePURE gave a cautious welcome to Wednesday’s deal, saying it did not provide enough incentive for the new generation biofuels.

“We welcome Council’s continued commitment to a 7 percent cap for conventional biofuels but we are disappointed with the lack of a binding target for advanced biofuels,” Robert Wright, secretary general of ePURE, said in an email.