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

 

Cars and CO2 – a ‘loopholes lexicon’ - Background briefing

Publication | September 24, 2008 at 0:00

This Thursday, 25 September, the Parliament’s environment committee will cast its vote on the EU’s first ever legally binding CO2 emission standard for new cars. There is a substantial risk that, ceding to heavy industry pressure, the committee...

Briefing on Merkel-Sarkozy car deal

Publication | July 10, 2008 at 0:00

This briefing describes the consequences of the proposed Franco-German deal on car emissions.

Background briefing for Environment & Energy Councils

Publication | June 4, 2008 at 0:00

In preparation of this week's Environment and Energy Councils held in Luxembourg this briefing lists some of the issues Greenpeace is concerned about.

Greenpeace media briefing - Environment Council (3 March 2008)

Publication | February 29, 2008 at 0:00

On Monday 3 March, EU environment ministers will have their first official debate on the Commission’s recent proposals for new legislation on climate & energy (also known as the climate & energy package) and on carbon dioxide emissions from...

Briefing on the Commission ‘Climate & Energy Package’

Publication | January 22, 2008 at 0:00

Tomorrow, the European Commission will be presenting new legislation on climate & energy to secure the EU objectives it set itself last year. This will include a breakdown of Member State climate targets for 2020, a new framework for renewable...

Hot topics at the EU summit - Climate and Renewable Energy

Publication | March 5, 2007 at 0:00

Media briefing for European Council 8-9 March 2007

EU Environment Council - Climate and GMOs

Publication | February 19, 2007 at 0:00

Media briefing for EU Environment Council, 20 February 2007: key agenda items on climate change and GMOs

EU Energy Package

Publication | January 9, 2007 at 0:00

Greenpeace press briefing in advance of the EU ‘Energy Package’ launch: European Commission to lay out good intentions but poor plans

Green 10 Letter on Energy Efficiency Action Plan

Publication | September 28, 2006 at 0:00

Letter from Green 10 group of environmental NGOs' to EU Commission President Barroso regarding the Energy Efficiency Action Plan

Environment Council in advance - GMOs, Climate and Biodiversity

Publication | March 7, 2006 at 0:00

Media briefing in advance of Environment Council, 9 March 2006. Background to key agenda items on GMOs, biodiversity and climate change.

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