EU Should Not Waste Non-food Biofuels Opportunity

EU – Biofuels showed great potential as a green alternative to fossil fuels, but demands for crops needed to produce it has led to many acres of forest being converted into agricultural land. This also meant there were fewer trees to absorb CO2 emissions.

The EU now wants to shift to biofuels that are produced from waste or residues.

The EP’s environment and energy committees met with expert on 20 February to debate how this could be achieved.

The problem with traditional biofuels

Alejo Vidal-Quadras, a Spanish member of the EPP group, admitted that there was a problem with traditional biofuels.

Mr Vidal-Quadras, who is responsible for following the biofuels plans on behalf of the energy committee, said: “Promotion of advanced biofuels would minimise changes in land use.”

Corinne Lepage, a French Liberal MEP who follows the biofuels plans on behalf of the environment committee, said: “I hope that in the future we will not have to choose between what we eat and how we drive.”

The challenge of using other biofuels

Biofuels produced from waste and agricultural residues affect the environment less and do no influence food prices as they do not substitute food crops, according to the European Commission.

Climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard explained that these biofuels are currently underdeveloped, mainly because of the high production costs, but that they are more sustainable and should be promoted.

Raffaello Garofalo, of the European Biodiesel Board, pointed out that these advanced biofuels are not yet produced commercially. However, if they were given support, then their deployment could accelerate after 2020.