EU Parliament Seeks 6% Cap on Crop-Based Biofuels in Transport

The European Parliament voted to curb the transport industry’s consumption of biofuels that come from crops in a bid to ease competition with food production.

The European Union assembly fixed a 6 percent limit on the use of crop-based biofuels in ground transport, seeking to spur the development of clean fuels from non-food sources.

The vote today in Strasbourg, France, sets the stage for talks among EU governments on the issue. Any differences with the Parliament would have to be ironed out in negotiations that could add months to the process for reaching a final accord.

The EU wants to prevent a requirement that at least 10 percent of energy for road and rail transport in 2020 come from renewable sources from causing side-effects that undermine the battle against global warming.

Made primarily from crops such as rapeseed, wheat, corn and sugar, biofuels including ethanol and biodiesel are the main renewable energy for transport and offer the prospect of reducing the use of fossil fuels blamed for climate change.

A risk exists that biofuels themselves could lead to greater greenhouse-gas emissions by causing indirect land-use change. In displacing food production, biofuels threaten to spur the conversion of forest and peatland, which store carbon dioxide, into land for food crops. CO2 is the main greenhouse gas.

The 6 percent limit on crop-based biofuels endorsed today by the EU Parliament amends a 5 percent cap proposed last year by the European Commission, the 28-nation bloc’s regulatory arm in Brussels.

In its vote, the Parliament also said a second generation of biofuels from non-food sources like farm and industry waste should account for at least 2.5 percent of energy for road and rail transport in 2020.

The EU requirement that at least 10 percent of land-transport energy in each member country come from renewable sources as of 2020 dates to 2008. It is part of a goal of more than doubling the overall share of renewable energy in the EU to an average 20 percent.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.