I have recently been receiving a lot of emails and letters from constituents about a vote in the Strasbourg this week about a piece of legislation to amend the fuel quality directive and renewable energy directive. One of the more important aspects of this legislation is the proposed cap on the amount of biofuels that can be produced in Europe in order to protect food supplies.
On 11 July 2013, the European Parliament’s environment committee (ENVI) voted through this piece of legislation with a large majority. This report will now be voted on this week.
Labour MEPs believe the EU’s climate policies in the transport sector should be based on genuine environmental and social sustainability. This means that biofuels should offer genuine and clear greenhouse gas savings, and that those associated with indirect land use change (ILUC) should be accounted for. It also means that biofuels policy should not have an adverse affect on food prices and food security for vulnerable populations. In addition, advanced (non-food crop-based) biofuels that can provide definitive greenhouse gas savings and be genuinely sustainable will help provide alternative fuel sources for the future. The ENVI committee’s report included specific targets for advanced biofuels, as well as for renewable electricity in rail and automotive transport.
Labour members in the ENVI committee supported a compromise position on a cap of 5.5%, believing this was a good outcome given the differing views and opposition to a low cap from right-wing MEPs. In the upcoming plenary vote, we will push for as a low a cap as possible, and for binding ILUC factors to be retained in the Parliament’s report.
Even after the whole Parliament’s vote this week, this draft legislation will have to be discussed and negotiated with representatives from the national governments across the EU. There is therefore still a long way to go before a final position on this issue will be decided.
I really appreciate hearing from constituents, especially on issues as important as this. I would encourage constituents to also highlight them to their MP and the UK government if they have not done so already.