Biofuels

Unica criticizes European Commission’s agenda for Climate and Energy

Sunday, February 09, 2014

In a letter published by a major European newspaper, the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (Unica) publicly contested the new environmental package for 2030 announced by the European Commission.

Unica sees the EC document, which contains new directions for the EU climate and energy policies from 2020 to 2030, as a backing down from the goal of reducing carbon (C02) emissions in the transportation sector.

The letter from Unica, authored by Geraldine Kutas, senior international adviser to the president for international affairs, was published by the daily European Voice, one of the main media vehicles in the European context,. In the letter, Unica questions various decisions announced by the Commission.

“This Commission is irresponsibly throwing in the towel on European decarbonisation efforts in transport by not having the courage to set any kind of longer term target for sustainable biofuel,” Kutas wrote.

The letter calls this shortcoming of the European document “bizzare” since carbon emissions in transportation – from passenger vehicles to trucks – still represent a considerable and rising portion of overall greenhouse gas emissions.

Kutas notes that biofuels that are responsibly produced and achieve substantially environmentally superior results to fossil fuels still represent the only real solution available for reducing emissions in the transportation sector.

“How else does the Commission imagine reducing transport emissions? The hallways of the Commission may echo with the solution of electric vehicles. But, as produced and charged today, electric vehicles are carbon-intensive because they rely on coal and other fossil-fuel-based electricity to be charged,” Kutas added.

Some of the key goals announced by the European Commission as underlying the energy and environmental policies for 2020 to 2030 are:
- The goal of reducing greenhouse gases (GHGs) emissions by 40% in 2030, compared to the level of emissions in 1990;
- A target for the whole European Union to have a minimum of 27% of their energy consumption coming from renewable sources in 2030, without national targets for each Member State;
- No new mandatory target for the use of biofuels in transportation after 2020.
- No new mandatory target for efficiency after 2020.
- No target for reducing the carbon intensity of transportation fuels via the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) after 2020. The previously established FQD guidelines called for a 6% reduction in the carbon intensity of transportation fuels to be achieved by 2020.

The discontinuation of the current 10% target of renewable energy in transport and 6% decarbonisation target for fuels (FQD) represents a major change of direction in comparison with policy in place.

“Despite the disappointment with the Commission’s announcement, Unica will continue its efforts regarding long-term environmental goals in the European Union,” Unica CEO Elizabeth Farina said. “We are going to focus on, primarily, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the use of advanced biofuels, such as ethanol produced from sugarcane, in substitution of fossil fuels.”

The letter from Unica, which reinforces the points highlighted by Farina, ends with a direct appeal for the adoption of a target for advanced biofuels, which will bring security to investors and, consequently, promote the production at scale of these biofuels and help to further reduce transport emissions in the EU.

Read below the full text published:


The European Commission is Throwing in the Towel to Decarbonize Transport
01/23/2014
European Voice

Dear Sir:

I read with great interest your recent coverage on the European Commission’s Communication on 2030 targets (9-15 January 2014 edition).

It is worth underscoring that the Commission is providing a most unfortunate kick-off to an important discussion on long term environmental issues that ultimately impact the health and well-being of all Europeans and those beyond.

Take transport and decarbonization. This Commission is irresponsibly throwing in the towel on European decarbonization efforts in transport by not having the courage to set any kind of longer term target for sustainable biofuels.

This is bizarre given that carbon emissions in transport -- from passenger vehicles to lorries -- are still one of the fastest growing components of overall greenhouse gas emissions. And biofuels, those that are responsibly produced and achieve substantially environmentally superior results compared to fossil fuel, are still the only real solution we have to reduce transport pollution.

How else does this Commission imagine reducing transport emissions? The hallways of the Commission may echo with the solution of electric vehicles. But, as produced and charged today, EVs are carbon intensive because they rely on coal and other fossil-fuel based electricity to be charged.

In shrinking in the face of Europe’s lop-sided and unhealthy debate around biofuels, this Commission is failing to give the needed support to those sustainable biofuels, such as Brazilian sugarcane-based ethanol, that can achieve high greenhouse gas emission reductions compared to fossil fuel and that have been proven time and again to have minimal direct and indirect environmental impacts.

Investors are unlikely to risk their money to develop new generations of sustainable biofuels without reasonable and binding EU public policy targets, which can help mitigate the high-risk and high-cost process of producing advanced biofuels at scale.

In this year of great EU institutional change, let’s hope the new policy actors who arrive in Brussels later this year will have the foresight and fortitude to address Europe’s great decarbonization in transport problems. This means, in part, creating a binding target for advanced biofuels that will lead both to greater volumes of such biofuels being produced and fewer vehicle emissions in Europe.


Unica



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