The share of energy from renewable sources, such as solar or wind, should be at least 35% of the Union’s gross final consumption of energy by 2030, Members of the European Parliament from the Environment Committee said on October 23.
The Environment Committee voted on its opinion on the revision of the Renewable Energy Directive for the period 2021 – 2030.
The approved legislative text is part of the ongoing reform of the renewables energy directive, a central piece of the EU energy and climate change policy, which had already set a 20% target for 2020, back in 2009, with individual targets for each EU country.
The report was adopted by 32 votes to 29, with 4 abstentions. The Industry Committee, the committee leading on the file and responsible for the Parliament’s overall negotiating stance, is expected to adopt its position on November 28.
“I am delighted that the Parliament is demanding an end to the use of palm oil as a biofuel. Not all biofuels have the same environmental impact and EU policy needs to make a better distinction between the good and the bad,” said lead Dutch MEP Bas Eickhout from the GREENS party. “We have to prevent food and feed crop biofuels end up displacing food production and have a negative climate impact sometimes even exceeding fossil fuel emissions,” he added.
The European Commission proposed to prolong the scheme until 2030, raising the target to at least 27%, albeit as an EU-wide target. MEPs propose to reintroduce mandatory national targets to reach an EU 35% goal.
The draft legislation states that the share of biofuels in this effort should be no more than 7% of final consumption of energy in road and rail transport. MEPs propose to phase-out food-based, first-generation biofuels responsible for driving deforestation by 2030, and already from 2021 for those made from palm oil, while encouraging the development of cleaner biofuels, the European Parliament said.
MEPs also backed the Commission proposal that no food-based biofuels should be subject to minimum targets at EU level.
MEPs also set sustainability criteria for biofuels, bioliquids and biomass in order to minimise the risk of using unsustainable forest biomass claimed as “renewable energy” (that would therefore benefit from support schemes).
Jean-François Fauconnier, Renewables Policy Coordinator at Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, said calling for an at least 35% EU target, backed by binding national targets, is a step in the right direction. “Still it does not recognise the full potential of renewable energy in Europe, which is much higher. The Parliament’s Industry Committee needs to raise ambition and support an at least 45% target, which would bring us closer to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement,” he said. “The Environment Committee also failed to introduce comprehensive safeguards for bioenergy use, undermining the role sustainable bioenergy has to play in our transition to a 100% renewables based energy system,” he added.