The European Parliament narrowly voted on 11 September to cap the use of first-generation biofuels with negative indirect land use change, or ILUC effects. According to the Parliament, first-generation biofuels should account for no more than 6% of the 10% target for renewable energy use in transport by 2020 under the EU Renewable Energy Directive. This vote is expected to speed Europe’s transition to biofuels produced from sources that do not disrupt current land use patterns, such as algae and waste.
By a close 356-327-14 vote, the Parliament advanced a proposal to ensure that advanced biofuels with low ILUC effects account for at least 2.5 per cent of energy consumption in transport by 2020. The Parliament first-reading position also recognizes under the Renewable Energy Directive biofuels derived from bacteria and Carbon Capture Utilisation for transport purposes, which will benefit the aviation sector as well.
The Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group (or SAFUG, a consortium of airlines and aerospace firms of which Boeing is a part) has called for policymakers to consider mechanisms to lower the contribution of high ILUC risk biofuels and create incentives for sustainable fuels that have been certified as low risk of ILUC. SAFUG members made a public pledge to promote robust standards for sustainable aviation fuels.
The aviation industry is committed to developing high-efficiency, sustainable advanced biofuels. These fuels can reduce the sector’s carbon footprint, provide a more diverse (and thus resilient) supply of energy, and develop a new, environmentally progressive industry. And as the industry develops these fuels, it is working to ensure they avoid ILUC effects.
On 11 September, the Parliament vote fell two short of providing a mandate to the Rapporteur to negotiate with EU member states, which means that the member states must seek a common position on their own that will need to be reconciled with the Parliament vote if different.