French MEP Corinne Lepage, the European Parliament's lead rapporteur on European Union biofuel legislation, has set the scene for an intense policy debate on the European Commission's proposal to modify the biofuel provisions in the fuel quality and renewable energy directives, as set out in your article “Conflicting reports stir EU debate on biofuel” (EuropeanVoice.com, 27 March).
This legislative review process gives European policymakers an opportunity to set a positive agenda for growth and jobs in Europe's low carbon economy. The European renewable ethanol industry has taken up the challenge to decarbonise transport by investing in the production of the only biofuel that can be used in petrol engines, reducing emissions by 50%-90% compared to fossil fuels.
The biofuel debate now needs to move beyond stereotypes to a more nuanced discussion. Europe's policymakers recognise the importance and diversity of this industry. Indeed, the report by Lepage puts ideas on the table that will contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions for transport in Europe. But more needs to be done, notably in the development of advanced biofuel markets.
Without a healthy market for conventional renewable ethanol and without a longer-term perspective for the industry, the necessary investments into advanced biofuel are unlikely to take place. Europe's renewable ethanol sector has already invested nearly €8 billion in the past eight years, creating 70,000 direct and indirect jobs, and providing government revenue of €300 million in France alone.
If the EU is serious about decarbonising transport, it will need to develop measures that allow us to reach this objective as quickly and efficiently as possible. The European Renewable Ethanol Association (ePURE) is convinced that future growth in the biofuel market should come from the best-performing products in terms of greenhouse gas performance.
Renewable ethanol made in Europe should be promoted in order to combine a transition to low-carbon transport with responsible economic growth. This home-grown sustainable and renewable source of energy will benefit Europeans and the European economy while reducing transport emissions.
Over the next weeks and months, MEPs and the Council of Ministers have the important task to reconfirm EU leadership and commitment to decisive climate action that goes hand in hand with economic growth. They have a chance to demonstrate that, even in times of economic crisis, Europe has growth potential and reason to be proud of what is “made in Europe”.
Secretary-General of ePURE