MEP for Dublin, Nessa Childers, voted today in the Environment Committee European Parliament to approve a reform of EU legislation governing biofuels.Ms. Childers cautiously welcomed the review, prompted by the need to contribute to reduced carbon emissions and to curb the harmful effects of land use change arising from the cultivation of crops for fuel.
Speaking from Brussels after this morning’s vote, Ms. Childers said:
“Current EU policy promoting the use of biofuels is badly outdated and broken. The human and environmental side effects of this route are increasingly apparent and we had to do something to address this.
“We have been fighting for half a decade to effect some change on this front.
“We now have a 7% cap on the use of ‘old-school’, land-intensive biofuels, even if we wanted a much stricter cap on the share of conventional biofuels in the overall mix, preferably at 5%.
“We also pushed for sounder definitions and hierarchies of what qualifies as waste as source materials for more advanced biofuels exploiting by-products of other agricultural activities.
“There is also progress on the recognition of the land rights of indigenous people, a critical overseas development and human rights aspect our policies in this area must not ignore.
“I have worked together with like-minded colleagues in the Committee, tabling amendments to the proposed legislation on all these issues, and it was remarkable to see how inflexible EU countries’ ministers proved in the face of such necessary change.
“EU governments at Council level have shown an abysmal lack of willingness to think in our long-term interest and decided to concede as little room for reform as possible.
“We’ve lost an opportunity to make this a much better deal but have at least forced a review clause that will reopen the whole file in 5 years’ time.
“This is to the benefit of a burgeoning agro-fuels lobby that found a profitable niche and wants it protected even though our policy is no longer fit for its intended purpose, which is to have cleaner, environmentally friendly fuels that improve upon what fossil fuels have to offer.”