Policy update

EU Energy Council draft directive on indirect land use change

On June 13, the European Union’s Council of Energy Ministers agreed to a common position on the draft “ILUC proposal.” The Ministers’ June proposal would amend the Renewable Energy and Fuel Quality Directives to take account of concerns about indirect land use change (ILUC) for biofuels.

This is the latest stage of a process that was started with a requirement written into both Directives for the European Commission to review concerns about ILUC, and propose revisions to Europe’s biofuel support frameworks if appropriate. In October 2012, the European Commission duly presented a draft directive to the Parliament and Council, and the European Parliament has since put forward its own set of proposed amendments in September 2013, after a year of intense discussion and debate.

There have been three main points of dispute in the draft directive:

  • Whether the contribution to EU targets of biofuels produced from food and feed crops should be capped, and if so at what level.
  • Whether ‘ILUC factors’ should be included in the text, and if so whether they should be used for assessing regulatory compliance in the sustainability criteria under the Renewable Energy Directive and Fuel Quality Directive, used when assessing contributions towards the carbon reduction target of the Fuel Quality Directive, both, or neither.
  • What level and type of support should be given to ‘advanced’ biofuels, and what should be included in that category.

In short, the Council answered these questions as follows:

  • A 7% cap on the amount of energy from food or feed-based biofuels that can be counted towards the 10% target for renewable energy in transport and overall 20% renewable energy target. No limit, however, on the contribution of these biofuels to the FQD carbon-intensity reduction target.
  • ILUC factors to be included only for reporting by the Commission, and not for assessing regulatory compliance. This reporting to be based on ranges taken from Monte Carlo analysis by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  • A legally non-binding sub-target of 0.5% of transport energy to be supplied from advanced biofuels, meaning biofuels from cellulosic or ligno-cellulosic materials, or other defined feedstocks.1 If national governments choose to adopt lower sub-targets they will be required to explain that decision to the Commission.

See the full policy update for additional context and details.

Alternative fuels Life-cycle analyses