Biofuels vote highlights deep divisions

The biofuels capping debate is set to continue after a European Parliament vote today highlighted deep divisions between MEPs and member states over the future of the policy.

What is Indirect Land Use Change?

ILUC is the hypothethis that when biofuels are produced on existing agricultural land the demand for food and feed crops remains and may lead to someone producing more food and feed elsewhere, perhaps elsewhere in the world and perhaps on land which was not previously agricultural.

What are ILUC factors?
An attempt to assess the environmental impact of crops being used for biofuels in the EU. These would be included in member sStates' and fuel suppliers' reporting of greenhouse gas savings under the Renewable Energy Directive and in the Fuel Quality Directive respectively.

Biofuel pump_275_229

The Parliament agreed to a biofuels cap at six per cent of a member state’s total transport fuel, and Indirect Land Use Change factors from 2020, but gave no clear mandate to begin negotiations with the European council.

NFU combinable crops adviser James Mills said: “It is clear that many MEPs are not happy with the direction of the European Parliament’s biofuels policy and it looks very likely that the issue will have to come back for a Second Reading.

“Many of the votes on key amendments divided the chamber down the middle and a majority of MEPs actually voted against giving the lead MEP on this issue a mandate to move into final negotiations with the European Commission and the EU’s 28 member states – this means the debate is far from over.

“The MEPs have supported a six per cent cap on first generation biofuels, which is an improvement on the European Commission’s initial proposal for five per cent. We still believe a potential cap coupled with ILUC factors would be misplaced, as they are based on inconclusive science that would harm the future of an industry that can deliver real benefits on farm and deliver sustainable production of food, animal feed and renewable fuels.

“We hope that figure would be increased in the likely event of a second reading.

“If crop-based biofuels are limited then an estimated £700 million of UK farm gate revenue would be put at risk, which would be a further setback for the UK biofuel industry which has seen significant investment in developing infrastructure over recent years.”

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