The European Parliament environment committee voted today to include sustainability factors in both the fuel quality directive and the renewable energy directive, alongside a formal recognition Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) needs to be accounted for when assessing the merits of any biofuel.
By forcing food production to go elsewhere, or through increased deforestation, ILUC causes the release of additional greenhouse gas emissions and undermines the emission savings of biofuels. Various peer-reviewed studies have confirmed the ILUC effect is real and that targets for introducing biofuels in the EU can inadvertently increase food prices and greenhouse gas emissions elsewhere.
The key aim of Labour's amendments was to prevent the unintended promotion of polluting biofuels as well as the global distortion of crop prices that fuels poverty while at the same time protecting existing investments.
To that end, Labour MEPs called for ILUC factors to be accounted for when reporting on the greenhouse gas savings of any biofuel, something Tory MEPs voted against - despite the UK government backing the proposals.
Seb Dance MEP, Labour's European spokesperson on environment, said:
"The Labour Party along with colleagues across the Socialists & Democrats Group has worked hard to ensure the unintended consequences of increased biofuel usage are recognised.
"The compromise agreement we have reached in the committee resulted in only a one per cent increase in our original target for first generation biofuels as well as ensuring ILUC factors are accounted for in both directives.
"While it is reassuring to note the Conservative-led government in the UK supports our position on indirect land usage it is a real shame David Cameron's own MEPs disagreed with him and voted against this report."