6/14/14, "EU to set limit on food-based biofuels," Russia Today
"EU ministers have agreed to 7% cap on the use of food-based biofuels
in transport fuel. The agreement comes after a long-standing
controversy, with biofuels being criticized for adding to environmental
The so-called "first generation" biofuels are made from crops
such as maize, beetroot, or rapeseed. They were initially backed
by the EU as a way to tackle climate change and reduce EU
dependence on imported oil and gas. However, research has since
shown that biofuels do more environmental harm than good.
Making fuel out of crops has been criticized for displacing other
crops and forcing the clearing of valuable habitats and virgin
vegetation, particularly mangrove swamps in Southeast Asia.
Biofuels have also been blamed for inflating food prices by
competing with food production, which leads to shortages and
higher prices in some of the world's poorest countries.
In response to the criticism, EU energy ministers agreed on a
reduction of biofuels use at a meeting on Friday. The new deal is
aimed at capping the use of fuel made from food products to seven
percent of transport sector energy use by 2020.
An original target set in 2009 was 10 percent, but the European
Commission originally backed a five percent limit. Acknowledging
that the current seven percent agreement is weaker than hoped, EU
Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said the result is
“better than no decision at all.”...
The deal must now be considered
by the newly-elected European Parliament, which is expected to
begin dealing with it later this year. The next generation of more sophisticated biofuels is expected to
come from waste or products which do not need dedicated land. It
is hoped that these biofuels will solve some of the current
issues. However, more investment is needed for such an outcome.
Environmental campaigners say advanced biofuels are far from
being able to make a difference at the moment.
Meanwhile, the US is quite eager to rely on biofuels. On June 12,
the Department of the US Navy announced that at least 140 million
liters of drop-in biofuels are being sought as part of its marine
diesel and shipboard jet fuel supply.
Another recent US report from the Department of Energy's Joint
Genome Institute summarizes numerous ways in which eucalyptus
trees can help produce biofuels and biomaterials in a sustainable
way. The efforts of dozens of researchers from 30 international
institutions show that eucalyptus trees can be an easily
renewable source of biomass which do not compete with native food