Dr. Maria Blanco ( UPM) and Iñigo Capellan ( PhD Student, Fundación Repsol Scholarship ) were interviewed in “La mecanica del Caracol” ,Radio Euskadi, during the workshop organized by the Low Carbon Programme entitled “Biofuel Policy for a Low Carbon Future”, that was held in Bilbao on the 19th of September.
Second annual Workshop organized by the Low Carbon Programme “Biofuel Policy for a Low Carbon Future “
Transport is a very important sector in the transition to a low carbon Europe. Transport uses a third of all EU energy and is responsible for 25% of the European GHG emissions. Moreover, it is the only major EU sector where GHG emissions are increasing. This has made the European Commission to set for 2050 an 80% reduction of carbon emissions in transport and 70% reduction in the use of oil. Achieving these ambitious targets will require a complex set of means including the reduction in scale (demand of transport), improved technology (increase the efficiency in vehicle’s engines) as well as a change in the fuel mix. It is in this latter aspect where biofuels are expected to play a significant role. Thus, the first presentation this morning, by Arno Behrens from the Centre for European Policy Studies will focus on the role of biofuels in the objective to achieve a Low Carbon Transport in Europe.
The workshop will have two presentations that will deal with two of the major concerns raised in the last decade regarding policies promoting the use of biofuels. The first concern is about changes in land use caused by the increased demand for biomass. Considering these indirect land use changes we may find that some biofuels can actually lead to higher carbon emissions than fossil fuels. Dr David Laborde, from IFPRI, will explain the science behind indirect land use changes in a moment where the biofuels industry is continuosly disputing it.
The second concern has to do with the impact of biofuel policies on agricultural price levels and volatility and María Blanco, Associate Professor at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid will deal with the fuel versus food debate.
The topic will be approached from ohter three new perspectives. First of all, Dr. Thonier, from Bio Intelligence, a consultancy firm based in Paris, will share some details of a set of projects that BIO IS is carrying out for the European Commission and the French Department of Agriculture and will motivate the need to introduce flexibility into biofuel mandates. Next, Nusa Urbancic, clean fuels manager at environmental NGO Transport and Environment will share their reflections on how to fix EU biofuels policy. Finally, Carlos Díaz, from Repsol will provide us with an oil company’s view on biofuels mandates.
After that, an open discussion will be open among the participants, with some closing comments from Professor Markandya, Scientific Director of BC3, Basque Centre for Climate Change
In 2009 the European Commission established a 6% drop in the carbon footprint of transport fuel by 2020 and the requirement of accounting for 10% of energy requirements of the transport sector to be met with renewable sources. Biofuel counts towards that requirement if it produces 35% emissions savings over fossil fuels (or 50% from 2017 onwards). But, when indirect land use changes of biofuel production are taken into account most varieties of biodiesel turn out to produce more emissions than bioethanol and often more than fossil fuels. In the United States the Environment Protection Agency did take the land-use effect into account in 2010, when it set standards for which fuels count as renewable. In Europe the biofuels industry and the energy and agricultural sectors argued that the science of indirect land use changes is not robust enough for policy and in October 2012 the commission finally proposed that food-crop fuel quotas be capped at only 5% of transport fuel by 2020 and that fuel suppliers had to report the total emissions of their fuels including land use figures produced by the IFPRI. But on June 20 this year the European Parliament’s energy committee voted to push the cap on food-crop fuels up to 6.5% and removed the stipulation that fuel suppliers report emissions using land-use change figures.