DfT opposes plans to boost biofuels

The Department for Transport will oppose the European Commission’s plans to reduce the carbon content of fuels because it fears that increasing the use of lower-carbon biofuels will cause deforestation and reduce food production.

The DfT issued a consultation paper on the proposals on 30 August.1The Commission announced its proposals to amend the fuel quality Directive in February (ENDS Report 385, p 51 ). They included requirements for fuel suppliers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their fuels by 1% each year from 2010-2020 – a total of 10%

The target would likely be met by raising the proportion of plant-derived biofuel in petrol and diesel. In the UK, the biofuel content is expected to reach 5% in 2010 as a result of the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation. To achieve the Commission’s targets, says the DfT, it would have to increase to 20-26% by 2020.

The DfT says the Commission’s plans have “not been properly considered” and that big rises in biofuels risk “major adverse environmental impacts”. Planting biofuel feedstock such as palm oil can contribute to tropical deforestation and take land away from food production.

It wants the greenhouse gas targets removed from the amendment and included in the revision of the biofuels Directive instead. It also wants an effective sustainability standard for biofuels developed (ENDS Report 383, p 15 ).

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