European Council fails to reach agreement on ILUC

By Erin Voegele | December 12, 2013

European biofuel groups are speaking out following the European Council’s failure to reach a political agreement on how to account for indirect land use change (ILUC) in biofuel policy.

According to ePURE, seven European Member States formed a blocking minority on Dec. 12 to reject a proposed Lithuanian compromise package on ILUC that would have imposed a 7 percent cap on conventional biofuels. The package reportedly would have also allowed for a range of accounting tricks to allow members states to meet targets set by the Renewable Energy Directive, while including no concrete measures to stimulate the production of advanced biofuels.

“We welcome the good sense some Member States had to oppose this political compromise,” said Rob Vierhout, secretary general of ePURE. “The rejection reflects the complexity of the issues and divergent views around ILUC. Too many parameters formed a proposal that would have been almost impossible to implement. But most of all, the lack of incentives for best performing biofuels meant that Member States could hardly fulfill the targets as set out in the Renewable Energy Directive.”

Nina Skorupska, chief executive of the Renewable Energy Association, said the move would add to uncertainty. The failure of EU policymakers to reach agreement today means that the ILUC saga will not be closed before the European elections in May next year. It is anyone’s guess at this stage how many more months, or years, the ILUC uncertainty will continue,” Skorupska said. “The government has always maintained it would wait for certainty on ILUC before setting out a trajectory to the 2020 transport target. Given the indefinite delay on ILUC at EU level, this is no longer tenable if the UK is to have any chance of meeting the 2020 transport target. DfT must be bold and set policies now if the UK is to achieve the new jobs, industrial regeneration and emissions savings opportunities on offer through to 2020.”

The European Biodiesel Board welcomed the decision. “The rejection of the Lithuanian proposal indicates explicitly that ILUC science is far from being consensual. EBB welcomes the outcome of the Energy Council as an opportunity to rely on sound facts in this complex file. Further work is indeed for assessing the true positive impacts of our sector in terms of energy security, rural development, and decarbonisation of transport,” said Raffaello Garofalo, EBB secretary general.