Biofuels in the European context: facts and uncertainties

Mar 2008

Together with other stakeholders, the Joint Research Centre (JRC) has been studying aspects relevant to biofuels in different contexts for a number of years. In order to provide an up-to-date analysis of policy issues and thereby contribute to the current debate, it has pulled together these results and other available studies. This has resulted in the present report which is presented as a contribution to an ongoing debate.
The report presents facts, findings and models regarding biofuels in a broad context. It points out the associated uncertainties. The document identifies scenarios which may evolve in either a predictable or non predictable way in the future but which in turn may considerably influence the debate. Finally, this report has identified open issues.
The draft report was prepared as a contribution to the January 2008 Commission proposal for a Directive on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources which was made against the background of the commitment by the European Council of March 2007 to a set of targets on energy and climate change. In particular, the European Council agreed to a target of a 20% share of renewable energies in overall Community energy consumption by 2020, and a specific target on biofuels.
Findings in the report confirm the need for the inclusion of environmental sustainability criteria for the use of biofuels and the need for close monitoring of sustainability performance during the implementation phase as foreseen in the proposed Directive. This should include actual greenhouse gas savings, including emissions from land use change.

By: R. Edwards (IES), S. Szekeres (IPTS), F. Neuwahl (IPTS), V. Mahieu (IES)

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