WASHINGTON, Oct. 17, 2012 – The already-shaky concept of trying to calculate indirect land-use change (ILUC) in the measurement of greenhouse gas emissions in biofuels policy may take another hit in Europe.
After severe criticism from biofuels producer interests, the European Commission’s climate directorate is said to be having second thoughts about a proposal that would allocate charges for greenhouse gas emissions from biofuels based on theoretical displacement of forests to grow biofuel stocks.
ILUC is cited by biofuel critics who claim that the production of grains and other crops used to make biofuels here in the United States is leading to the displacement of sensitive acreage overseas to make up for the alleged loss of food production. EPA factored in ILUC in establishing an expanded federal Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2) in 2010, but rendered its impact negligible with forecasts of advanced technology that will significantly improve crop yields.
Any cause-and-effect relationship for ILUC “cannot so far be scientifically proven,” the Union for the Promotion of Oil and Protein Plants (UFOP) said last month. “The main victims would be German and European rapeseed producers, the pioneers of its development, who began cultivation on fallow land at the beginning of the 1990s,” UFOP said.
“The EU Commission is wrong if they believe that they can turn back the clock on biofuel policy without any environmental crop damage,” it added. UFOP urged the commission to “assess the question of the ‘ILUC hypothesis’ on a scientific basis. The study used as the basis for the proposal for the introduction of ILUC factors “has not so far been subject to any scientific review.”
The European Biodiesel Board also questioned the proposal, claiming that such a policy change would risk 450,000 jobs. COPA-COGECA, the EU-wide farm organization, also objected.
Informa’s authoritative newsletter Agra Europe reported online today that the commission would at least partially backtrack on the climate directorate’s proposal to add crop-specific ILUC factors to the carbon savings they use to compare to fossil fuels.
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