14 Juni 2006

Environmental NGOs stage conference on sustainable biofuels policy

The increased use of biofuels could be disastrous for biodiversity and create more environmental problems than they solve, if sustainability safeguards are not added to EU policy, says a joint statement issued by The European Federation for Transport & the Environment (T&E), BirdLife International and the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) following a recent joint conference on “A sustainable path for biofuels in the EU”, aimed to coincide with a meeting of EU energy ministers to discuss biofuels.

The EU’s biofuels directive targets replacing 5.75% of fossil fuels with biofuels in transport by 2010, but since a study part-funded by the Commission indicates that anywhere between14% and 27% of EU agricultural land would be needed if the target were to be met from EU-produced feedstock, large amounts of biofuels would be imported.

T&E policy officer Aat Peterse said: “We are not rejecting biofuels, but as well as the need for environmental safeguards, we must be careful that biofuels don’t distract us from the primary goal of improving energy efficiency … It is essential that we prevent fuels produced by clearing rainforests and protected habitats finding a market in Europe.”

At their recent European Council meeting, 24 EU energy ministers issued a resolution on biofuels which included the possibility of a sustainability certification scheme for transport fuels. This text had originally been deleted but was reinstated, according to T&E.

The European Commission last month launched a consultation on how the current EU biofuels directive is performing, which asks, inter alia: “Is the objective of promoting biofuels still valid?” The consultation closes on 10 July. Submissions should be made to tren-biofuelsdirective-review@cec.eu.int.

Source: eems-online June 14, 2006.

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