Biofuels are substitutes for petrol and diesel and promptly available on a large scale for ordinary vehicles. They generally have a better greenhouse gas performance than fossil fuels and therefore help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They also contribute to reduce dependency on imported fossil fuels.
The Renewable Energy Directive 2009/28/EC requires Member States to achieve at least a 10 % share of renewable energy in the total gasoline and diesel consumed in transport by 2020. Liquid biofuels are expected to provide the main contribution to the achievement of the target, renewable electricity and bio-methane playing a minor part. The directive contains a strong incentive to develop new biofuels which have a lower impact on food production by reducing use of agricultural land.
Only sustainable biofuels can receive public support and be counted against the 10% target. The Directive sets out precise binding sustainability criteria which ensure that the production of raw materials for biofuels does not lead to losses of high carbon stock land, such as wetland, forested areas and peatland, and of highly biodiverse land, such as primary forest and other protected areas including grassland.
Biofuels are also required to emit at least 35 % less greenhouse gases than the replaced fossil fuel. This minimum saving requirement is increased to 50% from 2017 and 60 % from 2018 for new installations. Emissions shall be calculated over the entire life cycle of biofuels and include, if the land has been converted to biofuel production, any corresponding loss in carbon stocks.
The Directive requires the Commission to analyse by the end of 2010, whether and how the problem of indirect land-use change caused by biofuels can be addressed. If appropriate, the report will be accompanied by a legislative proposal.
The study "The Impacts of the EU biofuel target on agricultural markets and land use: a comparative modelling assessment" provides a comprehensive and updated overview of the medium-term impact of biofuels on agricultural markets and on land use both in the EU and third countries.
The fact-sheet "International aspects of the EU biofuels policy" focuses on trade aspects and the impact on food prices and food security at international level.