Transport, oil and biofuels

As the era of easily accessible oil comes to an end, the world is approaching an energy crossroads. The EU could get ahead by driving efficiency and investing in technologies, such as electric vehicles, to get us beyond oil. Or it could continue relying on increasing amounts of fossil fuels that are getting ever more dirty, dangerous and expensive to extract. 

Greenpeace activists drive a Flintstones-style car to the European Parliament. The stone age stunt was a reminder that the car industry is trapped in a 'dinosaur dynamic' of building ever-faster and increasingly powerful gas-guzzlers at the expense of the climate.

 

 

EU fuel efficiency standards

Transport accounts for about 60 percent of EU oil consumption, half of which goes into cars and vans. Fuel efficiency regulation drives innovation to benefit consumers and spur technological leadership, while bringing down oil demand. The EU has set standards for cars for 2015 and 2020 and for vans for 2017 and 2020. A review of both standards will take place before 2013 with new European Commission proposals. Greenpeace wants to see a 2025 standard of 60 grammes of carbon dioxide per kilometre for cars. In the past, carmakers have resisted such standards, even though history shows they are capable of great strides. Greenpeace is working to persuade regressive car companies like VW to live up to their rhetoric and support ambitious standards. 

Fuel Quality Directive

Published in 2008, the Fuel Quality Directive sets a carbon reduction target of 6 percent by2020 for transport fuels sold in Europe. The devil is in the detail though and Greenpeace is working to ensure that implementation arrangements fulfil the aim of the directive. The Canadian government wants the EU to consider fuels made from tar sands the same as normal fuel, even though the European Commission’s own research by Stanford University shows it to be 23 percent more carbon polluting. The EU’s biggest ever trade deal hangs in the balance.

Biofuels

There are good and bad biofuels. Ones that are good for the environment have a significantly lower carbon footprint than conventional fuel without harmful side effects such as intensification of unsustainable agriculture, increase of water usage and pollution, or land-grabbing and land rights conflicts in developing countries. Preferably, they are made ​​from genuine waste products and do not require land to produce. Bad biofuels damage the environment and put more carbon into the atmosphere. The EU’s renewable energy policies are a major driver of growth for harmful biofuels, which shows no sign of slowing. The EU has introduced sustainability requirements, but important issues like agricultural practices, bio-safety, water and soil quality and food security are not covered. They also ignore the indirect land use change (ILUC) effect of biofuels, a major problem. According to the European Commission's internal assessment, biodiesels from crops such as rapeseed, soy and palm oil have a higher carbon footprint than conventional fuels when emissions from ILUC are included. Legislation is the best and only reasonable way to prevent ILUC. Yet the Commission continues to delay legislation, protecting the entrenched interests of some producers who want to maintain access to large public subsidies although their contribution to climate change mitigation is nil or negligible.

The latest updates

 

Media briefing on the Commission’s energy security strategy

Publication | May 28, 2014 at 8:30

The Ukraine crisis has once again highlighted Europe’s vulnerability to energy import disruptions. There is a risk that, as in 2006 and 2009, gas imports from Russia through Ukraine could drop or dry up completely. These imports represent over...

NGO media briefing on ILUC and biofuels

Publication | December 9, 2013 at 12:33

[This report was edited on 10 December at 17:10 to correct the carbon dioxide emission figure under a 7% cap on page 2, section 1]

Report: Sustainable Alternatives for Land-based Biofuels in the European Union

Publication | January 17, 2013 at 9:00

European countries are ramping up biofuel use in an effort to meet their obligations under EU objectives to decarbonise energy in the transport sector. But green transport targets for 2020 in the renewable energy directive (RED) and fuel quality...

Briefing: Sustainable Alternatives for Land-based Biofuels in the European Union

Publication | January 17, 2013 at 9:00

Report on sustainable alternatives for land-based biofuels in the European Union: Briefing materials

energy [r]evolution

Publication | October 24, 2012 at 11:00

The 2012 EU Energy [R]evolution report, carried out for Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council by the German National Centre for Aerospace, Energy and Transport Research, demonstrates how Europe would gain nearly half a million...

Strengthening the EU emissions trading scheme and raising climate ambition

Publication | June 11, 2012 at 14:09

This Greenpeace / WWF report assesses the causes of the EU carbon market crunch and recommends policy options to repair it.

Cost of driving briefing

Publication | May 10, 2012 at 0:30

Greenpeace commissioned an independent expert to calculate the cost savings that drivers in 15 European states can expect if EU fuel efficiency legislation is implemented as-is, and if it is improved. This briefing accompanies the research to...

Linking car industry restructuring to environmental goals

Publication | March 26, 2012 at 15:57

A joint NGO letter urging European Commission president Barroso to follow the US in linking any aid to the auto industry with fuel efficiency improvements.

Beyond a 20% climate target - briefing on draft Commission working paper

Publication | January 30, 2012 at 12:01

A two page briefing prepared by Climate Action Network Europe, WWF and Greenpeace, outlines our response and recommendations to the Commission working paper 'Analysis of options to move beyond 20% greenhouse gas emission reductions: Member State...

EU 2050 energy roadmap – Greenpeace analysis

Publication | December 15, 2011 at 9:26

Our power stations and electricity networks are old and need upgrading. Replacing them will cost money, but what should European governments invest in? Clean energy or conventional fuels? The EU 2050 energy roadmap, which the Commission released...

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