Top European Union officials will attempt to strike a deal on Wednesday on how to measure the full climate impact of crop-based fuels, in a debate that could wipe out large parts of the Europe’s biofuel industry.
The talks follow warnings from scientists that using biodiesel made from European rapeseed and imported palm oil and soybeans does nothing to prevent climate change and could actually accelerate it.
If, as expected, the bloc’s executive Commission recommends excluding some or all of these fuels from the EU’s climate targets, it would be a major blow to the green credentials of biofuels and to many growers and manufacturers around the world.
Such a proposal, if approved by EU governments and lawmakers, would also make it highly unlikely that the European Union could meet its current goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions from road transport by 2020.
The policy debate within the European Commission has dragged on for more than a year and centers on a relatively new concept known as indirect land use change (ILUC).
ILUC states that by diverting food-crops into fuel tanks, biofuel production increases overall global demand for agricultural land. If farmers meet that extra demand by cutting down rainforest and draining peatland, it results in the release of millions of tons of additional carbon emissions.