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

 

Commission energy efficiency plan a gift to oligarchs

Press release | July 23, 2014 at 14:44

Brussels – Greenpeace has criticised a European Commission plan on energy efficiency released today for failing to respond to Europe’s energy import dependence and the challenge of climate change.

EU energy ministers warm to 2030 efficiency target

Press release | June 13, 2014 at 13:30

Luxembourg/Brussels – Discussions between European energy ministers today in Luxembourg have revealed growing support for energy efficiency, said Greenpeace.

Energy ministers delay reform of EU biofuel rules

Press release | December 12, 2013 at 12:06

Brussels – Energy ministers meeting in Brussels today increased EU biofuel policy uncertainty by delaying its reform. In doing so, they are failing in their duty to fix a policy which has a heavy toll on forests, climate and food security,...

MEPs propose measures to improve green credentials of biofuels but fail to solve food...

Press release | July 11, 2013 at 0:33

Brussels – In the face of heavy lobbying from the biofuels industry, the European Parliament’s environment committee has made encouraging recommendations to fix EU biofuels policy, but more will be required to end the food for fuel crisis, warned...

Commission ignores own research and labels biofuels from palm oil 'sustainable'

Press release | November 27, 2012 at 8:36

Brussels – The European Commission last Friday approved a certification scheme which would brand biofuels produced from palm oil as ‘sustainable’ [1], despite evidence that their production contributes to deforestation, peatland degradation,...

Commission cannot decide which horse should win EU energy market race

Press release | November 15, 2012 at 15:17

Brussels – Greenpeace cautiously welcomed a communication by the European Commission on the future of Europe’s energy market.

2030 renewables target key to unlocking European Energy [R]evolution

Press release | October 24, 2012 at 11:00

Brussels – Europe could enjoy the broad benefits of an energy system powered from renewable sources by 2050, but must set a firm 2030 renewable energy target to steer the transition, according to a new report published today.

Commission fails to shut the door on harmful biofuels

Press release | October 17, 2012 at 11:48

Brussels – The European Commission will today finally recognise the destructive side-effects of biofuels made from palm oil, rapeseed and soybeans and other food crops. But its long-awaited proposal to clean up Europe’s biofuels policy will do...

Ministers recognise need for a clean, efficient energy system but fail to show the way

Press release | June 15, 2012 at 10:43

Brussels/Luxembourg - Energy ministers today recognised the need for substantially more renewable power and energy efficiency as the basis for Europe’s energy future, but fell short of a clear call for action. Poland alone did not support the...

Further delay as Commissioners fail to agree biofuels clean-up plan

Press release | May 2, 2012 at 11:55

Brussels - European Commissioners today failed to agree how to close a major loophole in EU biofuels policy. The lack of progress adds to years of delay while the climate impact of harmful biofuels continues to grow, Greenpeace said.

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