MEP for Dublin, Nessa Childers, gave a cautious welcome to this week’s final vote in the European Parliament to reform the EU rules governing biofuels.
Ms. Childers, a member of Parliament’s Environment Committee, worked with her colleagues in the Socialists and Democrats’ group, prompted by the need to further reduce carbon emissions and to curb the harmful effects of land use change arising from the cultivation of crops for fuel.
Speaking from Strasbourg in reaction to Parliament’s endorsement of the agreement reached with Member State governments, 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“Current EU policy promoting the use of biofuels is badly outdated and broken.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. Land and food price speculation are exacerbated in the process.
“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, like many colleagues involved in this issue, I 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. I am far from happy but we have at least forced a review clause that will reopen the whole file in 5 years’ time.
“The status quo benefits 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.”