EU powers ahead with ’sustainable’ biofuel certification schemes

sexta-feira, 22 de julho de 2011

The EU has granted approval to the first seven biofuel schemes to be officially certified as sustainable, despite concerns from some green groups over the methods used to ensure the resulting biofuels will cut greenhouse gas emissions.

European commissioner for energy Günther Oettinger yesterday confirmed the seven voluntary certifcation schemes, which are intended to demonstrate that biofuels used to count towards the EU’s renewable energy targets are produced in a sustainable manner.

The schemes approved are: ISCC, a German government-financed scheme covering all types of biofuels; Bonsucro EU, a roundtable initiative for sugarcane-based biofuels focused on Brazil; RTRS EU RED, a roundtable initiative for soy-based biofuels focused on Argentina and Brazil; RSB EU RED, a roundtable initiative covering all types of biofuels; 2BSvs, a French industry scheme covering all types of biofuels; RSBA, a scheme from biofuel producer Abengoa covering its supply chain; and a scheme from biofuel producer Greenergy covering sugar cane ethanol from Brazil.

“The schemes recognised on the EU level today are a good example of a transparent and reliable system which ensures that these high standards are met,” said Oettinger.

However, a number NGOs are suing the Commission, alleging that the decision to approve the schemes was made without consultation, meaning they were unable to scrutinise or object to any of the schemes.

They are concerned the EU may meet its target of sourcing 10 per cent of transport fuel from renewable sources using biofuels made from energy crops that compete with food crops or indirectly contribute to deforestation.

They are also arguing that the EU’s failure to consult on whether to approve the certification schemes violates the Aarhus Convention, which guarantees all EU citizens and environmental organisations the right to participate in green decision-making and the right to information necessary for effective participation.

Janet Pritchard, climate and forests programme leader at ClientEarth, one of the NGOs suing the EU, told BusinessGreen it will continue with the lawsuit even though the Commission yesterday released a dossier of background information on the applications and criteria.

She said ClientEarth wll now “pore over” the documents, seeking more information on the methods used to critique the schemes. However, she said it was still unclear how the groups could appeal against the EU’s decision.

The Commission also confirmed yesterday that it was planning to approve another batch of certification schemes out of the 25 initially put forward.

Pritchard said it was unclear if the EU would consult on that second batch before voting.

A spokesperson for the EU was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.

Source: Bussiness Green