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Minimising the negative impact of biofuels

On the 21 March 2013, European Union environment ministers debated the Commission proposal to address the impact of biofuels production on indirect land-use change, and to introduce new rules to encourage a shift to biofuels that deliver greater greenhouse gas savings.

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The use of biofuels has been growing in the EU in response to the targets set out in the Renewable Energy and Fuel Quality Directives.

Most of today's biofuels are produced from crops grown on agricultural land, such as wheat and rapeseed. When agricultural land previously destined for food or feed is diverted to the production of biofuels, the non-fuel demand will still need to be satisfied. When this production is realised through the use of additional land, its conversion could lead to substantial greenhouse gas emissions. 

The ministers agreed on the need to address possible negative impacts of indirect land-use change but expressed different views on how best to resolve the problem while reaching the climate and energy targets of the European Union. Some raised concerns about possible impacts of changes in the current policy on existing investments and market stability. 

Other topics on the agenda of the Environment Council

  • Environmental Impact Assessments

The ministers also debated changes to the way that environmental impact studies are carried out. The goal is to improve the effectiveness of the process, without adding too much bureaucratic red tape.

The ministers hope to be able to reach an agreement on the reforms during the second half of this year.

  • REACH Chemicals Review - Chemical Plants

The meeting also took stock of the REACH chemicals regulations, five years after they were introduced. Most countries welcomed the European Commission's attempts to reduce the burden of these rules concerning hazardous chemicals on small and medium-sized companies. 

 Main results of the Environment Council meeting

Video highlights


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