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The pressure is rising on the Commission to water down plans to raise the share of biofuels in transport to 10% by 2020, as leading MEPs on the issue call for the target to be cut to 8% or scrapped entirely.

“Given the many unknowns today, the responsible way to go forward seems to be to reverse the decision about the 10% renewable target and, instead, go for a lower target – like 8%,” states the report drafted by Swedish MEP Anders Wijkman for Parliament’s environment committee. His report conflicts slightly with the one published last week for the industry committee by the leading MEP on the issue, German Green Claude Turmes. Indeed, the Turmes report goes even further by completely scrapping biofuels from the EU agenda.

The Turmes report justifies the rejection of biofuel mandates by saying: “Heads of state and government put specific preconditions to be fulfilled, i.e. a) the production must be sustainable and b) second generation must be commercially available. Since March 2007, evidence is growing that these conditions will not be fulfilled. The 10% target must therefore be abandoned.” Nevertheless, speaking at a joint briefing with Wijkman in Parliament on 27 May, Turmes signalled that, while he believes it is “too early” to set any form of target, he could shift on the issue. Turmes further added that Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs had assured him that he would “not stand in the way” if he succeeds in clinching a deal with member states on reducing the target.

According to Turmes, while France and Poland have tried to rush through the 10% target, Germany, the UK and the Netherlands are more sceptical. Another 15 countries have no clear position and are “hiding behind” the Commission, he said, adding that he would be upping the pressure on the EU executive to change its stance on the 10%. Wijkman wants the 8% target to be combined with a requirement for all biofuels which count towards the target to achieve greenhouse gas savings of at least 50% compared to conventional fuels – which is higher than the 35% proposed by the Commission. “We need a target for investors”, he said.

The reports should be voted upon in committees in July, while the full plenary is due to express its position on 23 September. It remains unclear if a majority of MEPs would stand behind a scrapping of the biofuels target.

From EurActiv

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