Trade groups speak out prior to European biofuels vote

By Erin Voegele | September 10, 2013

With the European Parliament scheduled to vote on the future of its biofuel policy on Wednesday, representatives of the European biofuels industry are speaking out and asking members of parliament to vote down a cap on first-generation biofuels and a provision on indirect land use change (ILUC) emissions.

The Renewable Energy Associated released a statement Sept. 9 stressing that proposals to address ILUC would put both renewable energy targets at risk, along with investments in the U.K. that are driving technological advancements in manufacturing and agriculture and creating skilled jobs.

“Our domestic biofuels industry supports 3,500 jobs across 200 companies and achieves average carbon savings almost double the 35 percent minimum required by the government,” said REA Chief Executive Nina Skorupska. “This is why we urge MEPs to support the European Parliament Industry, Research & Energy Committee’s position in the ILUC vote next week.”

The REA also pointed to a study published by Ecofys in early Sept. that found factors like reduced reserves, food waste, speculation, transportation issues, storage costs and problems, and hoarding play a larger role in the increase of local food prices than biofuels.

The Global Renewable Fuels Alliance has also released a statement that calls for members of the European Parliament to vote against any changes to the Renewable Energy Directive. According to the GRFA, proposed changes are based on unproven theories and will negatively impact the economy and the environment.

“Programs like the RED have been very successful from an economic standpoint, contributing to a global industry that supports over 1.4 million jobs and contributes over $270 billion to the global economy each year,” said Bliss Baker, spokesperson for the GRFA. “From an environmental perspective, the global biofuels industry replaces the need for over 2 million barrels of crude oil and reduces GHG emissions by 268,000 tonnes per day. This is the same as taking nearly 20 million cars off the road…Although the RED is a European mandate, it is a model for programs around the world and will have a significant impact on the future of the global biofuels industry. The proposed amendments before Parliamentarians are extremely short sighted and would only serve to increase Europe’s reliance on crude oil and increase GHG emissions. Hurting a growing biofuels industry that employs millions and contributes billions is reckless when the economy is struggling to recover,”

ePURE, the European renewable ethanol association, has also weighed in. “When you have a look at all the recent scientific and independent evidence, it is clear that we have a sustainable and competitive ethanol industry here at home in Europe,” said Rob Vierhout, secretary general at ePURE. “The upcoming vote in the European Parliament should be about how to promote growth and investments or even how to create more than the existing 70,000 jobs in the next decade and beyond. These are the important facts. The alternative is to take the stick and punish consumers, workers and industry for the sake of ideology, contradiction and uncertainty. The two road exits are clearly defined. We call on the MEPs to make the best choice for Europe and to endorse the position of the ITRE Committee.”