The EU has promoted turning plants into fuel as a way to reduce carbon emissions from transport for the last 10 years. Today however, some say that biofuels have become part of the problem and actually have generated more CO2 than they saved, as the demand for crops needed to produce them has led to the destruction of forests. The EU now wants to limit the amount of fuel produced from food crops and shift to biofuels that are produced from non–food sources, such as waste.
Parliament has called for a cap on the use of traditional biofuels and a speedy switchover to new biofuels from alternative sources such as seaweed and waste, in a vote on draft legislation on Wednesday. The measures aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that result from the increasing turnover of agricultural land to biofuel production.
Biofuels showed great potential as a green alternative to fossil fuels, but demands for crops needed to produce it has led to many acres of forest being converted into agricultural land. This also meant there were fewer trees to absorb CO2 emissions. The EU now wants to shift to biofuels that are produced from waste or residues. The EP's environment and energy committees met with expert on 20 February to debate how this could be achieved.
Fuel from food crops have been pitched as a way to reduce carbon emissions from transport, however questions have been raised about how green these biofuels really are. The EU has supported them for the last 10 years, but last year the Commission proposed to limit the amount of food-based biofuels. We asked Corinne Lepage, a French member of the ALDE group in charge of steering the fuel quality and renewable energy directives through EP, about the challenges posed by biofuels.
The EU's commitment to green transport spurred increases in the production of biofuels that some say do more harm than good. Should turning plants into fuel be further promoted? We asked MEPs what they think about the Commission's plan to cap the use of food–based biofuels.