The European Union is looking to increase the use of biofuels but only after setting up mechanisms to ensure they do not increase greenhouse gases.
The parliament’s energy committee is looking to boost the amount of advanced biofuels – which are made from waste – used in transport.
There has been criticism that European policy on biofuels has been environmentally damaging. Some studies suggest the increased use of biofuels increases emissions by encouraging producers to destroy woodlands and use land used for food.
MEPs appear to have taking the criticism on board and want the EU to increase the use of advanced biofuels but only once a reliable model of indirect land use change (ILUC) to weigh up overall emissions has been established.
The committee proposed changes to the policy will be put to the vote in a plenary session.
Committee’s rapporteur, Spanish MEP Alejo Vidal-Quadras, said: “After lengthy discussions, we have managed to reconcile very different positions to agree a balanced text which addresses ILUC whilst protecting investments that have already been made. I hope we will be able to reach this majority also in plenary.”
Advanced biofuels are produced from wastes, algae and other sources that do not compete directly with food and feed crops. They provide higher greenhouse gas savings with lower indirect land change impact.
The energy committee feels greater production should be encouraged by gradually phasing in mandatory targets for their use in transport whilst meeting certain criteria for sustainability.
The minimum proposed targets are 0.5% in 2016, 2.5% in 2020 and 4% in 2025.
By contrast conventional biofuels are produced from cereals and other starch rich crops. The committee recommended they should account for 6.5% of transport fuel by 2020, compared to the 5% originally proposed by the Commission.
Greenhouse gas emissions linked to ILUC could be significant because almost all biofuel production in 2020 is expected to come from crops grown on land that could be used to satisfy food and feed markets, MEPs said. They pointed to the Commission’s impact assessment findings of “considerable limitations and uncertainties” in calculating ILUC and therefore say such modelling should not be included in the legislation at this stage.