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Climate Action 2009-2010


TRANSPORT BIOFUELS 146 Rapeseed can be used to create clean biofuels. EUROPEAN SUSTAINABILITY SCHEME FOR BIOFUELS The EU has promoted biofuels since the late 1990s, when the first renewable energy strategy was adopted. Specific legislation on the promotion and use of renewable transport fuels followed in 2003. With the new Climate and Energy Package, the legal framework for the promotion and use of renewable energy, including biofuels, is the new Renewable Energy Directive. With this piece of legislation, the EU has set an example in the area of biofuels. In the Commission we are of course well aware of the debate surrounding the overall sustainability of biofuels. For that reason, the 10 per cent binding target for renewable energy use in transport is accompanied by a set of binding sustainability criteria for biofuels produced or consumed in the EU. This is the first time that binding sustainability criteria have become law and we hope that this will encourage other biofuel producer and consumer countries in the world to follow the same path. The EU biofuel sustainability criteria contains a minimum greenhouse gas saving requirement expressed in a comparison to the use of conventional fuels (35 per cent, rising to 50 per cent in 2017 and 60 per cent in 2018 for new installations). In this way we can be sure that only those biofuels that lead to real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are promoted. The criteria also include a ban (for biodiversity reasons) on using biomass from primary forest, nature protection areas or highly biodiverse grassland, and (for carbon stock reasons) on using biomass from land that was previously wetland, forest or undrained peatland. The biofuel sustainability scheme also requires companies to report on what environmental and social impact has resulted from increased biomass use for biofuel production. The Commission has started to monitor and report regularly on the impact of an increased demand for biofuels on the social sustainability in the EU and third countries, and the availability of foodstuffs at affordable prices, in particular in developing countries. Similarly, we will keep an eye on land and labour issues related to the increased demand for biofuels in the EU and in third countries. Looking forward to second-generation biofuels Today most biofuels used in the EU are so-called first generation biofuels. They are produced from rapeseed, wheat, sugar beet and sugarcane. We thus clearly recognise the need to promote more advanced technologies, in particular second generation biofuels produced from waste, residues and ligno-cellulosic material. The contribution from these technologies counts double towards our target, making it easier to reach. The European approach to the support of advanced technologies has also been confirmed in the Strategic Energy Technology (SET) plan, which foresees a better coordinated and streamlined support to key areas, such as bioenergy and second generation biofuels. The EU research budget is the main tool used by the European Commission to support the development of innovative energy technologies and their subsequent deployment in the market. With the adoption of the sustainability rules for biofuels and bioliquids, the Commission is committed to exploring the possibility of adopting a similar sustainability approach to other uses of biomass for energy purposes. This work is ongoing. The aim is to publish a report and, if appropriate, a proposal for a scheme for biomass sustainability by the end of this year. FROM LEGISLATION TO ACTION The adoption of the Climate and Energy Package – one of the highest priorities under the first Barroso Commission’s mandate – has confirmed the determination of the EU to move towards a low carbon economy in which renewable energies, including biofuels for transport, play a significant role. “ This is the first time that binding sustainability criteria have become law and we hope that this will encourage other biofuel producer and consumer countries in the world to follow the same path “ The emphasis is now on moving to implementation and action on the ground as the targets are truly ambitious. Meeting them will require a change in our approach to energy supply and consumption. We all have a huge challenge in front of us, a challenge which we can only successfully overcome with strong and determined efforts at all levels. New legal requirements The new legal requirements for sustainable biofuel production will put new demands on European producers and international biofuel producers exporting to Europe. For Member States’ governments and administrations it will mean new evaluation and control functions. In this VISIT: WWW.CLIMATEACTIONPROGRAMME.ORG

TRANSPORT multi-level framework, the European Commission has also committed to regularly monitor and report to the European governments and elected representatives of the European Parliament on the implementation of the European biofuel sustainability criteria and the impact of an increasing biofuel production. Our work on the implementation of the new scheme is well on track. We are currently working out the practical guidance for the EU and third country producers to help them in adapting to the environmental criteria and to the numerous information compilation and reporting tasks in order to document each step in their biofuel production pathway. We have also engaged in dialogue with international partners in view of facilitating the compliance with EU rules for biofuel producers from third countries. Last but not least, the Commission is studying the indirect land use change phenomenon associated with increased biofuel production. This work, which could result in new policy proposals, will be completed next year. we should be by 2050 – and to agree on how to get there. In so doing we should put a strong emphasis on the transport sector – it has too long been the black sheep of the family when it comes to reducing CO 2 emissions. The transport system’s almost exclusive reliance of fossil fuels must change radically in the decades to come. In addition to an increase in the use of biofuels, tighter links with the electricity system represent another aspect of this transformation. A better integration of the energy and transport systems will, together with a much stronger focus on renewables and on using energy more efficiently, be key in bringing us onto a truly sustainable path where the needs for energy services can be met without putting the global climate, the environment and the prosperity of our children and grandchildren at jeopardy. Facing the challenges ahead Our experience in designing the EU sustainability scheme proves that it is not easy to be a pioneer. Once acclaimed for their potential environmental benefits, biofuels have come under fire over the last few years for allegedly causing damage to the environment, influencing the commodity markets and posing risks to food insecure developing countries. The EU has not remained silent in this debate. From the very outset our biofuels policy has been designed to include sustainability requirements, and these sustainability safeguards have been built up during the legislative process. The European Commission has been entrusted by the Member States and the European Parliament to remain active in the scientific debate on the merits and impacts of increased biofuels use. We are also actively working with our international partners to promote the sustainable production of biofuels not only within the EU, but also on a global scale. “ The transport system’s almost exclusive reliance of fossil fuels must change radically in the decades to come “ While the challenges that we have to tackle are daunting, they also represent nothing less than the industrial opportunity of this century. It takes courage to seize this opportunity. I am proud to see European companies investing in renewable energy projects in the EU and beyond its borders. Preparing for the decarbonisation of the EU’s energy sector remains a key priority on our political agenda. Investments in energy infrastructures last for decades. It is therefore necessary to start thinking about where Author Matthias Ruete has been the European Commission’s Director-General for Energy and Transport since 2006. He joined the European Commission some twenty years ago and held a variety of positions dealing with the internal market, EU enlargement, industrial and research policy, and energy and transport policy before attaining his current role. Matthias Ruete holds a PhD in law following studies in Germany and the UK. Before joining the European Institutions, he lectured on European and international law in the UK. Organisation The Directorate-General for Energy and Transport is responsible for developing European policies in the energy and transport sectors within the European Commission. Policies need to take into account safety and security, economic and environmental factors, as well as social needs and the international dimension of these issues. The Directorate-General, which has a staff of more than 1,200 people, carries out these tasks in many different ways including: developing strategic policies; proposing new and monitoring the implementation of existing EU law; encouraging voluntary agreements and the exchange of best practices; co-financing infrastructure in the Trans-European energy and transport networks; and running financial support programmes. Enquiries Tel: +32 22 96 62 93 Fax: +32 22 98 41 72 Email: Website: index_en.htm BIOFUELS 147 VISIT: WWW.CLIMATEACTIONPROGRAMME.ORG