A new deal on Indirect Land Usage Change (ILUC), which aims to prevent the growth of biofuels from resulting in deforestation and the loss of other natural environments, is welcome but could have been much stronger were it not for pressure by Conservative MEPs and centre-right governments.
That’s the message from Labour’s environment spokesperson in the European Parliament Seb Dance MEP.
The ILUC agreement includes provisions to increase the use of advanced biofuels, and a cap on less-sustainable first generation biofuels, as well as a review clause that will see the legislation reviewed in five years' time. The agreement also included provisions pushed by the centre-left Socialists and Democrats group, which includes Labour MEPs, on a waste hierarchy and the rejection of proposals to effectively lower EU renewable energy targets by double counting biofuels against different targets, as well as protection of land rights in developing countries.
However, it falls short of the original hopes of Labour and our colleagues in the S&D Group that caps would be accepted at 5%, rather than 7%; a stronger article on energy crops in the directives, as well as stronger, specific protections for indigenous peoples.
Seb Dance said that he believes that a small advance is better than no advance at all, and voted to accept the proposals. However, in contrast the Conservative members of the European Parliament simply refused to recognise the need for ILUC protections - in contrast to the views of their own government.
Commenting on the vote, Seb Dance MEP said:
"I've spent several years now working to get recognition of ILUC factors - and while this doesn't go as far as we hoped, it is none the less an important step forward. Now we must look to achieving a more significant package when the file is reviewed in five years’ time; that work must start now.
Consideration of ILUC factors is important - Labour MEPs recognise it, even the Conservative-led government in Westminster recognises it - it's a shame the Conservatives' own MEPs don't. They have pushed back on recognition of ILUC factors since the beginning."