Just4theplanet has learned that the first study to review the indirect land use change (ILUC) impact of the anticipated EU wide increases in the use of Biofuels up to 2020 concludes that European policy does not adequately protect the environment against negative consequences.
Based on newly released national plans ILUC will lead to substantial land conversion and, as a consequence, additional greenhouse gas emissions beyond those that would arise from the continued fossil fuel use.
David Baldock, Executive Director IEEP, commented that: ‘Promoting the use of Biofuels with no consideration of indirect land use change (ILUC) has the potential actually to increase the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions. It is vital that this situation is rectified and ILUC impacts are urgently addressed within EU law. It is essential to remember that the renewable energy Directive, which is driving EU Biofuels use, was adopted to help combat climate change.’
This report ‘Anticipated Indirect Land Use Change Associated with Expanded Use of Biofuels and Bio liquids in the EU – An Analysis of the National Renewable Energy Action Plans’. It is available to download in full at http://www.ieep.eu/
Under EU law all Member States are required to derive 10% of their transport fuels from renewable sources by 2020. Plans from national governments setting out how they will reach this target are only now becoming available. These confirm that conventional Biofuels (derived from crops such as wheat, rapeseed and sugar cane) will be the primary technology used in delivery.
A new report by IEEP concludes that between 4.1 and 6.9 million hectares of additional land will need to be cropped due to the increasing conventional Biofuels demand, set out in national plans. This is equivalent to an area of somewhere between the size of Belgium and the Republic of Ireland. The report estimates that this would lead to additional annual emissions of between 27 and 56 million tonnes of carbon dioxide between 2011 and 2020, associated with land conversion. This would be equivalent to having 12 to 26 million additional cars on Europe’s roads in 2020.
Under the renewable energy Directive, which specifies the 10% target, Biofuels are required to deliver some limited greenhouse gas reductions compared to fossil fuels. However, this only takes into account the direct emissions associated with their production, from original crop to final fuel. Missing from this calculation are other significant consequences, such as ILUC. This occurs when crops displaced by Biofuels, feed stocks are cultivated elsewhere, causing new land to be brought into arable production.
It had been hoped that the 10% target would be used by EU countries as an opportunity to adopt innovative solutions such as use of advanced Biofuels, electric vehicles and would drive investment in energy efficiency. However, the report shows that conventional Biofuels will dominate up to 2020, accounting for up to 8.8% of transport fuel use or 24.3 million tonnes of oil equivalent (toe). 15 million toe of this total consumption would additional demand directly driven by the adoption of the 10% target. It is the impact of this additional usage that has been assessed within this report.
Catherine Bowyer, lead author, IEEP: ‘This analysis underlines the need to include ILUC in the EU criteria for assessing whether Biofuels should count towards the delivery of the renewable energy Directive’s targets. The heavy reliance by Member States on conventional Biofuels use in 2020 and the limited use of more advanced or energy efficient transport solutions are also a major concern; action by Member States to promote these would put Europe on a more sustainable pathway ’.
The analysis of ILUC impacts is an evolving field and this study applies assumptions based on the best available data sets at the time of drafting. While the figures regarding the scale of ILUC impact may vary between studies, sensitivity tests completed for this assessment show that even when much lower assumptions regarding land use impacts and associated greenhouse gas emissions are adopted, the ILUC impacts are such that Biofuels do not deliver emission reductions required under EU law.
Biofuels remain divisive. They are regarded by some as important to achieving lower carbon transport, in particular by replacing future use of fossil fuels in heavy freight and aircraft. However, the green credentials of some conventionally produced Biofuels are increasingly under scrutiny, with mounting concerns over their environmental footprint.
For more information please contact:
Catherine Bowyer, Senior Policy Analysis, Climate and Energy Team, Institute for European Environmental Policy, t. +44 (0) 207 799 2244 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Dudley Curtis, Communications Manager, Transport & Environment, t. +32 (0)2 893 0845 m. +32 (0)485 379945 Skype. t-e dudley, www.transportenvironment.org
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