The ministers' endorsement of a new compromise overcomes a stalemate
hit late last year when European Union governments failed to agree
on a proposed 5 percent cap on the use of biofuels based on crops
such as maize or rapeseed. [ID:nL6N0JR2VL] [ID:nL6N0O730T]
Friday's deal would set a 7 percent limit on the use of food-based
biofuels in transport fuel.
The new deal must now be considered by the newly-elected European
"We think this proposal is much better than nothing," European
Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger told the Luxembourg meeting
"We need to support research and development in advanced biofuels so
we can move forward from generation one into generation two and
generation three," he added, referring to more sophisticated
biofuels which do not compete with growing crops for food.
The proposed 7 percent limit is part of a goal to get 10 percent of
transport fuel from renewable sources by 2020, as part of efforts to
curb greenhouse gas emissions and EU dependence on imported oil and
Initially, the European Union backed biofuels as a way to tackle
climate change, but research has since shown that making fuel out of
crops such as maize displaces other crops, forces the clearing of
valuable habitats, and can inflate food prices.
The next generation of advanced biofuels, made from waste or algae
for example, does not raise the same problems, but does require more
The compromise supported by ministers on Friday includes a 0.5
percent non-binding target for next-generation biofuels, which
environment campaigners say is nowhere near enough to make a
The agreement could mean that the overall goal to get 10 percent of
transport fuel from renewable sources by 2020 is missed, analysts
say. Currently around 5 percent of EU transport fuel comes from
[to top of second column]
Food-based bio-refiners, which have invested on the basis of the
original 10 percent, say a lower target threatens jobs.
And those trying to develop advanced biofuels say the progress they
are making is under threat. [ID:nL6N0LS0MT]
Thomas Nagy, executive vice-president of Novozymes, which makes
enzymes used in the production of advanced biofuels, said Friday's
decision enabled "a reboot of the decision-making process".
However, he said there was a "lack of ambition and absence of
incentives to allow the conventional biofuel industry to develop
sustainably" and urged the European Parliament, which will resume
debate of the draft law later this year, to propose amendments.
(Additional reporting by Sybille de la Hamaide in Paris; editing by
James Macharia and Jason Neely)
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