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MEPs vote for curbs on bad biofuels as conclusion neared

MEPs from the European Parliament Environment Committee today showed that they are determined to see a decent conclusion to the climate impacts, biodiversity loss and land-grabs resulting from EU biofuels policy. Biofuels are highly subsidised in Europe, as they were once considered a green alternative to fossil fuels. Yet in some cases emissions from them can be even higher than those from fossil fuels, when the displacement of food production is taken into account. In voting to limit harmful biofuels, MEPs sent a strong signal to the European Council – with whom they will negotiate biofuels limits – that they want a better solution than that which the Council previously agreed to.

This is the penultimate step in the long road to finally reaching an agreement on biofuels policy, which will be positive for the environment, but will also bring a more certain future to the advanced biofuels industry which needs predictability after years of investment uncertainty.

“Today MEPs have clearly acknowledged the harm caused by some biofuels and agreed that emissions resulting from the indirect land use changes caused by them can no longer be ignored.” Faustine Defossez, EEB Senior Policy Officer for Agriculture and Bioenergy said: “The end of these discussions is finally nearing, we only hope that with that we will also see the end of harmful biofuels.”

Robbie Blake, biofuels campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe said: “EU biofuels policy is a disaster – contributing to forest destruction, damaging communities around the world and destabilising food markets – while potentially increasing greenhouse gas emissions, rather than reducing them. “Limits on biofuels that compete with food crops are absolutely vital, but today’s vote doesn’t go far enough to completely phase out the use of food in our cars.
“Nils Torvalds, the lead MEP in the process, must now bargain hard with EU governments to limit crop-based biofuels.”

This Committee vote also gives a mandate to the Rapporteur to negotiate with the European Council. It is now essential that the Parliament’s whole position is adequately accounted for as an equal partner in co-decision. The Committee text included a 6% CAP on all land-based biofuels towards the 10% target, and correct carbon accounting of emissions from biofuels. Advanced biofuels need criteria to ensure their sustainability, so that past mistakes are not repeated. These must not be lost during the compromise with the Council as this is the bare minimum for setting Europe on the path to sustainable alternatives in the transport sector.

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