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EU considers allowing 50% increase in food-based biofuel

The use of biofuels sourced from food crops could increase by as much as 50 per cent under new EU proposals, despite concerns over the environmental and social impact of using these so-called first-generation sources.

Rolling countryside rapeseed cropeAccording to The Guardian, a current cap on first generation fuels of 4.7 per cent of all biofuel used within the EU could be increased to as much as 7 per cent for 2020, following intense lobbying from the biofuel and agriculture industry.

Across Europe, an EU mandate requires 10 per cent of transport fuels to come from renewable fuels by 2020, much of this is expected to met by blending biofuel in with conventional petrol and diesel.

A cap to control the amount of which food-based fuels such as corn and palm oil contribute to this target was introduced in 2011 to help address concerns that such fuels were pushing up food prices, encouraging the destruction of natural habitats and failing to reduce GHG emissions.

Already biofuels account for around 5 per cent of transport fuel in the UK, much of which is ethanol sourced from corn and blended into petrol and rapeseed oil, which is blended into diesel.

Environmental and anti-poverty groups have expressed their outrage at the new plans and are urging MEPs to reject the new proposal.

"If EU energy ministers give their green light, they will be caving into pressure from self-interested biofuel lobbyists and encouraging further hunger, land-grabs and environmental damage," Marc Olivier Herman, biofuels expert for campaign group Oxfam told news agency Reuters.

The new proposals also change the way that indirect-land use factors—a key way measure of the sustainability of biofuel sources—are reported and drop a target for the use of advanced biofuels made from waste sources or algae.

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Faye Sunderland

Filed under: Biofuels

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