Biofuels revision ‘taken hostage’ by lobbyists

Despite intense lobbying, Kateřina Konečná is confident that parliament's political groups can reach a compromise on revising the ILUC biofuels directive.

By Katerina Konecná MEP

17 Feb 2015

The revision of the indirect land use change impacts of biofuels directive (ILUC) is, in my opinion, one of the most important, controversial and problematic legislative documents that the European parliament's environment, public health and food safety committee will have to deal with during this legislature.

The current proposal seeks to address the overall very dismal situation of biofuels production, in terms of the elements used and waste management. According to the available information, it is clear that the previous revision was either deliberately distorted due to lobbying pressures, or was not well thought out and supported by relevant data.

"The lack of sufficiently sound scientific data and conflicting scientific studies often funded and carried out by biofuels producers, have complicated and threatened the current revision process"

It can be said that the EU has concluded that the current legislation on the first generation of biofuels is a failure, which instead of helping the environment, air purity and climate, has led to them being even more detrimental than burning traditional fossil sources.

Pressure from lobbyists and organisations across the EU, the lack of sufficiently sound scientific data and conflicting scientific studies often funded and carried out by biofuels producers, have complicated and threatened the current revision process.

My assistants and I have received countless phone calls, emails and letters from various lobbying groups and NGOs requesting meetings.

From my point of view, there are four main issues the revision must deal with. First is the proposed threshold of six per cent of energy consumption in transport in member states by 2020. Negotiations are currently taking place in the council and parliament, with some wanting to bring this threshold up, and others wishing to reduce it.

The second challenge, and probably the most controversial, is the ILUC concept. At present, there is a lack of adequate independent studies on which the numbers for ILUC emissions could be firmly based.

This is something not only the member states agree on – even certain NGOs have pointed out this problem. Third, is the proposed fixed share of 2.5 per cent of final energy consumption by newer biofuels in transport in some member states.

It is with the fourth problem that the power of lobbyists within the European parliament becomes particularly apparent. Annex IX of the document contains a list of supported input components for advanced generation biofuels, as certain first generation biofuels, that will be included in the calculations for the overall caps.

"The EU has already made one mistake regarding this revision – we cannot afford to fail again"

Currently, 81 amendments have been made to this annex alone, which does not exceed one and a half pages. In my opinion, it is clear that it has been taken hostage by lobbyists.

The ongoing negotiations in parliament have largely been focusing on these friction areas. Therefore, we as shadow rapporteurs have been treating this issue with maximum caution, as we are fully aware of the impact it could have not only on the environment, but also on employment.

The EU has already made one mistake regarding this revision – we cannot afford to fail again.

I expect further negotiations to be long and complex, but I truly hope we will be able to reach a compromise between the different political groups, in order for parliament to have the strongest possible mandate for future talks with the commission and council.