Climate Action

Commission makes proposals to minimise the climate impact of biofuels

Colza field

The European Commission today made proposals to limit the global conversion of non-agricultural land for biofuel production and increase the climate benefits of biofuels used in the EU. The proposals seek to promote more sustainable biofuels that help achieve substantial cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and do not directly compete with food production.

Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action, said: "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."

The Commission is proposing to amend current legislation on fuel quality and renewable energy. The intention is to take account of biofuels' impact in terms of driving the conversion of land such as forests and wetlands to agricultural land, which can increase greenhouse gas emissions. This is known as Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC).

Under the proposals, ILUC factors will be included in the reporting by fuel suppliers and Member States of the greenhouse gas emission savings of biofuels under the Fuel Quality Directive.

Among other measures the Commission also proposes to limit the amount of food-based biofuels that can be counted towards the EU's target of reaching a 10% share of renewable energy in the transport sector by 2020. The limit proposed is 5%, the current consumption level.

This measure is intended to stimulate the development of alternative biofuels from non-food materials, like waste or straw, which emit substantially less greenhouse gases than fossil fuels and do not directly interfere with global food production.