19 Juli 2011

First EU sustainability schemes for biofuels get the go-ahead

European Energy Commissioner Gunther Ottinger announces seven new voluntary schemes for reporting the sustainability of biofuels

The European Union has a legally-binding target to produce at least 10 per cent of transport energy from renewable sources by 2020. For any biofuel to contribute towards this target, it must meet a set of sustainability requirements. Companies can choose whether to demonstrate compliance with these sustainability requirements through national systems or by joining one of seven new voluntary schemes, recognised by the Commission today.

“We need to make sure that the entire biofuels’ production and supply chain is sustainable. This is why we have set the highest sustainability standards in the world. The schemes recognised on the EU level today are a good example of a transparent and reliable system which ensures that these high standards are met,” said Commissioner for Energy Günther Oettinger at today’s press conference.

The NNFCC believe biofuels can represent an environmentally-friendly replacement to fossil fuels, but they must be produced sustainably. Consequently we have been a strong advocate of new sustainbility criteria for biofuels, working alongside the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB) to help develop one of the voluntary schemes.

“This announcement is a huge step forward for biofuels, and we are delighted that the Commission has recognised the importance of developing such schemes,” said Dr Adrian Higson of the NNFCC. “But this is only the start, we will continue to work with organisations like the RSB to develop sustainability criteria for biofuels. In addition, we are looking more widely at the sustainability of bio-based materials and energy, as well as fuels.”

These schemes will mean that biofuels made of crops grown on land which used to be rainforest or natural grassland with a unique ecosystem cannot be considered as sustainable. In addition, the greenhouse gas emissions over the whole production chain need to be at least 35 per cent lower compared to fossil fuels. That threshold will increase over time, said the Commission.

Source: National Center for Biorenewable Energy, Fuels and Materials (NNFCC), press release, 2011-07-19.

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