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MEP bids to green EU fuel carbon reduction plan

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The European parliament's rapporteur on EU proposals to make oil firms cut lifecycle carbon emissions from fuels is insisting that the plans include biofuel sustainability criteria to prevent deforestation and water shortages.

Dutch socialist MEP Dorette Corbey says the criteria must be added to the law even though similar sustainability rules are already being developed by the commission as part of a separate EU biofuel promotion initiative. Her demands come in a set of amendments to proposals made by the European commission in January.

The commission proposes revising the 1998 fuel quality directive to oblige fuel producers to reduce lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions by 10 per cent between 2010 and 2020 (EED 31/01/07). The cuts would come from increased use of lower-carbon fuels such as biofuels, or by improving conventional fuel production efficiency.

But Ms Corbey says the law must include criteria ensuring that the biomass used to produce biofuels is 'at least partly traceable' and that all firms in the biomass chain are certified. Biomass production would be banned near nature areas and the criteria would have to ensure no deforestation or water shortages occur. The standards are based on ideas already advanced by the Netherlands, Germany and the UK, she says.

The rapporteur acknowledges existing European commission moves to draw up sustainability criteria in preparation for a planned directive aiming to raise the share of biofuels in transport fuels to 10 per cent by 2020 (EED 24/04/07).

These may eventually supersede criteria agreed in the fuel quality law, she says, but in the meantime separate criteria are needed to prevent the life-cycle reduction obligation causing unsustainable biofuel production.

In contrast to the commission proposals, Ms Corbey says there is no need for the sustainability criteria in the fuel quality law to include a minimum threshold for carbon savings. This would be superfluous because fuel suppliers will not invest in biofuels that do not deliver carbon reductions, she says.

Adding biofuel sustainability criteria could create extra areas of disagreement in plans that have already been questioned by the council of ministers (EED 12/06/07). This could also prompt wider debate on whether an EU biofuel promotion target is necessary at all if a fuel carbon reduction goal is agreed.

Elsewhere in her amendments Ms Corbey backs the 10 per cent life-cycle reduction target but says it would be 'easier to implement' by setting interim targets of two per cent every two years instead of one per cent annually as proposed by the commission. She also sets out minimum standards for measuring life-cycle fuel emissions.

She wants to accelerate the mandatory introduction of sulphur-free fuels for inland waterway vessels by two years to December 2009, and to align fuel quality standards for non-road mobile machinery such as tractors with those for diesel road vehicles by the same deadline. She proposes to cut the maximum level of polyaromatic hydrocarbons in fuel to six per cent and to ban the additive MMT.

MEPs are expected to debate Ms Corbey's proposals at a meeting of the parliament's environment committee on 11 September.

Courtesy of ENDS Europe Daily

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