The European parliament has delivered a “desperately weak compromise” on the future of biofuels in Europe that industry says will “curtail jobs and investment”.

In a tight vote on the use of biofuels in transport fuel, the parliament approved a 6% cap on the contribution of biofuels to Europe’s renewable transport energy target of 10% by 2020.

The policy of replacing petrol and diesel for cars and other vehicles stems from efforts to reduce carbon emissions from Europe’s transport sector. But critics argue that while biofuels can look green, they come with unintended consequences. Growing biofuel crops displaces food crops, pushing up food prices, and some biofuels can actually lead to higher carbon emissions than fossil fuels when changes in land use are fully accounted for.

The 6% cap voted for by MEPs represents an increase on the current figure of 4.5%. They also voted to recognise the link between biofuel production and the destruction of forests and other landscapes, but not until 2020. And backed a 2.5% target for so-called second generation biofuels – made from non-food sources such as agricultural waste, sewage and algae.

The European parliament’s environment, public health and food safety committee had recommended a 5.5% cap. French MEP Corinne Lepage, who had supported the lower cap, said the 6% agreement was a success and would drive innovation in the biofuels sector and lead to the creation of cleaner biofuels from non-food sources… read more