17 JANUARY 2018
ICSA president Patrick Kent has said that the plenary vote of the European Parliament on the Renewable Energy Directive sends out hopelessly confused signals because it demands much more ambition on renewable energy while simultaneously placing artificial caps on sustainable crop based biofuels which are both arbitrary and bizarre.
“While today’s vote means that the Commission proposals to gradually reduce biofuels from 7% to 3.8% is now in the bin, it has introduced a new restriction which limits biofuels to the member states’ consumption levels in 2017. This essentially puts an artificial cap on using more sustainable biofuels while everybody sits around waiting for the citizens of Europe to buy electric vehicles. One positive is that the Parliament has voted to phase out palm oil by 2021, which is the only real reason why there was any doubt about the original strategy to ramp up the use of biofuels in the first place.”
“In practice, the current cap of 7% means that some member states have not even reached that level, with the result that transport is the poor relation in Europe in terms of renewables. Transport in Europe is still based on 94% fossil fuels and it is clear that MEPs have been distracted by a nonsensical attack on European farmers. Farmers are getting the blame for GHG emissions, while ignoring the 2017 Carbon Major Report which indicates that 71% of global emissions can be linked to just 100 fossil fuel companies. Sustainable biofuels produced from crops in Europe can contribute to a 66% reduction in emissions compared to fossil fuels, yet this is being wilfully ignored by EU policy makers.”
“ICSA is calling on the Irish government to insist that artificial caps such as this proposal from the EU parliament are lifted in the forthcoming trialogue talks between member states, the EU Commission and Parliament. More biofuels in Europe will lead to a better outlook for European tillage farmers and this is vital for our own cereal farmers who are under serious pressure. It will also indirectly help the prospects for a resurrection of sugar beet in Ireland. We must also remember that biofuel crops in Europe are a source of protein by-product for animal feeds and this could reduce our dangerous dependence on protein imports from all over the globe.”
“It is a very simple choice now for the Irish and other EU governments. Does Europe really want a solution for the emissions problems of today’s transport fleet or not? Does Europe want to support European farmers with an outlet for crops worth over €6 billion or not?” concluded Mr Kent.