Top European Union policy makers will next week be faced with one of Europe’s most controversial climate policies, as they consider whether biofuels do more harm than good when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions.
The 27 European commissioners will for the first time discuss the issue all together at a regular meeting Wednesday, after diverging views among some members of the college put the EU in a deadlock and delayed action for months.
Brussels has been debating whether biofuels are better for the climate than conventional fuels, with some environmentalists calling for a radical rethink of EU policy that mandates a 10% use of renewable energy –mainly biofuels– in transport by 2020.
A backtrack on its policy could put at risk the biofuels market in Europe, one of the most promising worldwide, as the EU rules have already triggered billions of investments in biofuel production in Europe. It could also have potential consequences on global trade, as Brazil and the U.S. are among the main producers worldwide.
The commissioners will hold an “orientational debate” that’s generally meant to show where the majority stands on a compromise proposal that’s being drafted, people familiar with the discussion said.
The spat has opposed members of the European Commission, the EU executive body. The energy department is still supporting the current EU policy and favors the use of biofuels, not only because it sees them as a good way to reduce CO2 emissions of the transport sector, but also as a way to reduce the bloc’s dependence on fuel imports.
The climate change department instead is more skeptical about their viability as it stresses climate change as the main objective and wants to account also for so-called “indirect” emissions caused by biofuels before continuing to allow their use in the EU.