Announced just less than a month ago, the European commission will seek to impose a limit of 5% on the use of crop-based biofuels. The initiative comes as part of a larger plan to raise the share of renewable energy to 10% by 2020. EU climate commissioner, Connie Hedegaard, and the energy commissioner, Güenther Oettinger, made a joint statement, acknowledging that the use of agricultural land for fuel production is problematic and ultimately bad for the environment. The draft proposals, which aim to limit the consumption level of food-based biofuels, are expected to be published this month, but will require the approval of EU governments to become law.

Terrytown Gas Station Tanker

The new plan will hopefully help settle the “food vs. fuel” debate regarding the risks of diverting farmland or crops for biofuels production in detriment of the food supply. Most of the currently used biofuels are derived from sugarcane, corn, vegetable oils and animal fats. According to recent studies, second generation biofuels that use non-food crops or inedible waste products (cellulosic ethanol, algae fuel, biohydrogen, biomethanol, etc.) could potentially combine farming for food and fuel, and simultaneously generate electricity.

At an informal meeting recently held in Cyprus, energy ministers debated on the role of biofuels in the global sustainable development. Oettinger stated that the use of biofuels depended on developing a new generation of sources which are more costly than those made directly from crops. Opposing the plan are biofuel producers that warn of its negative impact of Europe’s economy. “European governments and the European commission must not cave in to pressure from the biofuels industry,” said Natalia Alonso, head of the EU office of Oxfam Campaign group.

Via Guardian UK

Photos by Jim Champion and  Infrogmation