The European Commission will publish a strategy report on biofuels and indirect land use change by the end of 2010, but that this document will contain no concrete actions and just possibly a proposal for new legislation. The wait brings even more uncertainty to the sector.
Part of this uncertainty surrounds the decision to be taken by the European Commission on the relationship between biofuels and indirect land use change (ILUC). During the year, the European Commission has been privy to several reports supporting or rejecting the view that biofuels lead to negative ILUC, i.e., that expanding cultivation of biofuel feedcrops on already cultivated land promotes the growth of other types of crops in areas with natural plant cover or that are rich in carbon, thereby impairing their ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, as Reuters reveals, things move slowly in the Commission.
Possible new legislation will not be enacted until 2012
Reuters reports that the European Commission is unlikely to announce its position until the end of this year (the report does not specify a date or the European Union source), and that even then, the strategy report will contain no specific actions. At best, it will propose further, detailed impact assessments by July 2011, and just possibly a proposal for new legislation after that. Any such proposal would then take at least a year to become law.
With the Commission's final decision on biofuels' impact on ILUC pending, a number of countries such as the United Kingdom have decided to delay implementing the sustainability criteria for biofuels imposed by the EU through the Renewable Energy Directive. The sector, in Germany and France as well as the UK, is on tenterhooks, and although it claims that the hiatus is undermining the profitability of biofuel plants in the short term, it also expects that public opinion around the world will come round to the argument that biofuels contribute effectively to reducing greenhouse gas emissions without destroying biodiversity.