The European Parliament has voted against a biofuel policy proposal calling for a phase out of crop-based biofuels and a ban on palm oil biodiesel.
The proposal by MEP Bas Eickhout, which suggested phasing out crop fuels by 2030 and banning palm oil diesel by 2021, was voted down 30-11 at the parliament’s transport committee on 9 November.
In addition to cutting down on the mentioned fuels, the proposal also suggested introducing safeguards to prevent recyclable materials or by-products with industrial application from being used in waste-based biofuels.
Two MEP groups, the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) and the Socialists and Democrats, voted against the proposal, criticising it as flawed and scientifically unfounded.
The EPP emphasised the need to preserve investments already made in crop-based fuels and to protect rural jobs depending on the biofuel industry.
“The text as amended by the transport committee had become far too weak. None of our priorities have been retained, especially that of imposing binding targets for all member states. It was the red line for us,” French MEP Christine Revault d’Allonnes-Bonnefoy told Euractiv.
The news outlet reported that some countries, particularly the Baltic States, had already reached their renewable energy targets and were now selling “renewable credits” to member states that were lagging behind on their contributions.
Under the system, Luxembourg paid €10M (US$11.8M) to Lithuania in order to meet its 2020 renewable energy goals.
According to MEPs from the left-leaning group, this could disincentivise countries from cutting back on fossil fuels.
Pekka Pesonen, representative of the European agriculture groups Copa and Cogeca, said this latest vote underlined divisions in the Parliament around the biofuels question.
“The rejection of the overall report provides a strong political signal that the biofuels issue is complex, and that finding a common view among the different parliamentary committees and at plenary level will be extremely challenging,” Pesonen told Biodiesel Magazine on 9 November.
The parliament’s industry, research and energy committee (ITRE) had a leading responsibility in revising the EU’s renewable energy directive, but biofuels fell under the jurisdiction of the environment committee (ENVI), Euractiv wrote.
ITRE MEPs proposed capping the contribution of crop-based biofuels to 7% and cutting it to 3.8% by 2030, as opposed to the ENVI proposals of eliminating them by 2030.
ITRE would also raise blending obligations on advanced biofuels up to 10%, while the European Commission had suggested an obligation of 6.8% and ENVI 9%, and it would also raise the cap for waste-based biofuels from 1.7% to 2.5%.