EU agrees plan to cap use of food-based biofuels

Jun 13, 2014
A customer holds a petrol pump nozzle providing biofuel E10 in Hamburg, northern Germany, on March 4, 2011

The European Union agreed Friday to limit the bloc's use of biofuels made directly from agricultural products after criticism they push up food prices and add to pollution.

Ministers from the 28-nation bloc overcame a year-long deadlock to agree a reduction in the use of 'first generation' biofuels, which are made from crops such as corn, beetroot or rapeseed.

The new deal will cap the use of fuel made from food products to 7.0 percent of transport sector energy use by 2020, down from an original target set in 2009 of 10 percent.

The EU has been a leader in driving the takeup of fuels made from crops—so-called first-generation biofuels—to replace fossil fuels like oil in a bit to cut .

But Brussels faces mounting criticism that mandating the use of such biofuels has eaten away at global food supplies, pushing up prices in some of the world's poorest countries.

Critics also argue the conversion of land to grow biofuels, particularly in the peaty mangrove swamps of Southeast Asia, means they are not the environmental panacea the EU has touted them to be.

The European Commission, the EU's executive, originally backed a 5.0 percent limit and acknowledged Friday's was weaker than hoped.

"But better this than no decision at all," EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said.

Activists, however, said the deal would not be enough to limit the impact of biofuels on the world's increasingly tight food supply as the global population increases.

"Today's deal on biofuels is a brazen assault on common sense," Marc-Olivier Herman, Oxfam's EU biofuels expert said.

"In a starving world, phasing out the use of for fuel is the only sensible thing to do," he said.

The measure now goes to the European Parliament, which is pushing for a 6.0 percent limit.

Italian Energy Minister Claudio de Vicenti, whose country takes over the EU's rotating presidency next month, admitted its passage "will be difficult".

Explore further: Little Uruguay has big plans for smart agriculture

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

EU cuts use of food-based biofuels

Oct 17, 2012

The European Commission said Wednesday that it was cutting targets for the use of biofuels so as to reduce the negative impact on food production and prices.

EU to trim biofuel targets on greenhouse gas fears

Sep 11, 2012

The European Union plans to trim targets on biofuel use, once seen as a potential source of cheap alternative energy but now widely blamed for soaring food prices, according to a draft proposal.

Biofuel policy needs rethink, says UN expert

Nov 25, 2011

The UN special rapporteur on the right to food urged the EU for a rethink on biofuels Friday, saying huge errors had been committed in the initial enthusiasm for an alternative to harmful fossil fuels.

France reconsiders plans to boost biofuel use

Sep 12, 2012

France said Wednesday it would reconsider its plans to further develop the use of biofuel, once seen as a potential source of cheap alternative energy but now blamed for soaring food prices.

EU, US should abandon biofuels: UN rapporteur

Oct 17, 2012

The European Union and the United States should stop using biofuels as they are hampering food production, the UN's special rapporteur for the right to food Olivier De Schutter told AFP on Wednesday.

Recommended for you

More safety on thermal drying plants of sewage sludge

Dec 23, 2014

Researchers from the Madariaga Lab at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid have carried out a series of trials to study the explosiveness of sludge on thermal drying plants of sewage sludge. The obtained ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Squirrel
1 / 5 (1) Jun 14, 2014
Textbook example why the EU is bad: sets policies that create the opposite effect intended and worse. Then it cannot stop or at best can only partially limit (5% not 0%) the policy due to lobbying of unelected appointees.
Squirrel
1 / 5 (1) Jun 14, 2014
Textbook example why the EU is bad: sets policies that create the opposite effect intended and worse. Then it cannot stop or at best can only partially limit (5% not 0%) the policy due to lobbying of unelected appointees.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.