Just a few weeks after the publication of a study questioning its policy that prioritizes first generation biofuels, the European Union (EU) has changed its course, focusing now on biowastes rather than food crops as biofuel source.
According to Roger Harabbin, a BBC environment analyst, the previous policy was easily accepted by other environmentalists before they actually understood the consequences thereof. The United Nations sent a special reporter that would expose both direct and indirect effects of the biofuels‘ policy on the poor.
Finally, the European Commission (EC), EU’s executive body, has came to realization that clearing land, in preparation for planting biofuel crops, will most often than not compensate the purpose of reducing gas emissions as this process eliminates trees that are already acting as carbon sinks.
Hence, the EU has amended its policy such that it now promotes usage of biowastes such as straw, algae, and farm waste in producing biofuels. Furthermore, it has placed a 5% cap on first-generation biofuels share allowed in transport fuels. Also, a minimum requirement of 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions will be implemented to new biofuel installations.
There are still arguments regarding the policy with regards to biofuel crops and its targeted 10% biofuels share by 2020. For instance, the 5% cap is still higher than the present shares, which may still pressure the food sector.
On the other hand, it is a good start that EU has been listening to concerns on biofuels production as they take advantage of the biowastes. Hopefully, time will come that biofuel production will solely depend on biowastes to maximize food for the poor and minimize materials that are put to waste.