The formal EU proposal and 5% cap on land use for biofuel production was announced this week – closely followed by a backlash from the biofuels industry and environmental groups alike. Environmentalists are disappointed that the new legislation does not go far enough. The EU will require reporting on the indirect land use cost (iLUC) of biofuels production, however, the fuel producer will not be held accountable or penalised for iLUC. The proposal also fails to restrict the amount of first generation fuel that can be consumed. Meanwhile, the concern of the biofuels industry is that the swing in policy will derail investment and employment, encouraged under the 2009 directive.
Writing in the Guardian newspaper, Clare Wenner (head of renewable transport fuels at the Renewable Energy Association) makes a similar point to my previous blog – that one third of world food is wasted, and this issue is largely ignored in the food versus fuel debate. Clare also argues that the biofuels industry is unfairly demonised by commentators, who neglect other sectors that compete for agricultural land, such as the clothing industry.
The EU member for climate action, Connie Hedegaard said of the EU proposal:
“For biofuels to help us combat climate change, we must use truly sustainable biofuels. We must invest in biofuels that achieve real emission cuts and do not compete with food. We are of course not closing down first generation biofuels, but we are sending a clear signal that future increases in biofuels must come from advanced biofuels. Everything else will be unsustainable.”
Let’s hope, at least, that the compensatory political enthusiasm for second generation fuel is followed through.