[ Director: Mário Frota [ Coordenador Editorial: José Carlos Fernandes Pereira [ Fundado em 30-11-1999 [ Edição III [ Ano X

quarta-feira, 28 de junho de 2017

Biomass and biofuels in the EU: Emotion-based policymaking?

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV.com PLC.

Discussions about land displacement and food scarcity caused by biofuels are driven more by “ideology” or “populism” rather than science, says Jörg Jacob, CEO of German Biofuels.
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Corn dryer silos

Francis X. Johnson is senior research fellow at the Stockholm Environment Institute.

Consider a region that depends heavily on imported fossil fuels, especially for transport—importing nearly 90% of its oil, two-thirds of its natural gas and nearly half of its coal.[1] This region has the ambition to dramatically reduce its GHG emissions, become more economically competitive and improve energy security. One would assume that this region would constrain fossil fuel use while promoting cost-effective renewables, particularly in transport, right?

Wrong. In its proposed legislative changes, the European Commission abandoned the position it adopted in the 2009 Renewable Energy Directive (RED) of a separate target of 10% for renewables in transport. This is in spite of the fact that the transport sector lags far behind other sectors, with only 6% by the end of 2015, which as the Commission notes, is due in part to regulatory uncertainty.[2]

Well, maybe the issue is being addressed in the broader context of biomass use. The majority of biomass used in the EU and globally is for animal feed, followed by food, materials and heat/power. Only around 1% of biomass is used to produce liquid biofuels.[3] One would expect the main effort to be directed at improving the effectiveness and reducing GHG impacts for the large sectors, right?

Wrong again. The Commission focused on the sector that accounts for a tiny share of biomass use, proposing to phase out supports for biofuels based on “food crops.” The main rationale is the perceived competition between food and fuel. Thus we would expect to see both growing evidence and other regions following suit, especially in developing countries, right?
 
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