The European Union’s (EU) agriculture is highly varied in terms of Member States’ (MS) average farm size, business type, weather, soil, social and economic conditions. In order to ensure effective policy frameworks and subsequent sustainable and balanced development, public policy must take into account these variations and advances.
For those who are not familiar with the Taxonomy Regulation, it aims at “launching an ambitious and comprehensive strategy for sustainable finance with the aim of redirecting capital flows to help generate sustainable and inclusive growth”.
A draft Delegated Act “establishing the technical screening criteria for determining the conditions under which an economic activity qualifies as contributing substantially to climate change mitigation or climate change adaptation and for determining whether that economic activity causes no significant harm to any of the other environmental objectives” was now leaked, shedding light on the intentions of the Commission services.
On biogas and biofuels the draft Delegated Act sets out the relevant criteria. They should normally be in line with the existing criteria for sustainability spelled out in the Renewable Energy Directive (RED II).
But although there is a dutiful link to the RED II, the following sentence is added up in the Annex I –point 4.13: “Food-and feed crops are not used for the manufacture of biofuels for use in transport.”
On which grounds do the Commission services go beyond what is actual EU law on the sustainability of biofuels? On which grounds do they depart from the sustainability criteria spelled out in RED II?
What are the facts that underpin excluding sustainable crops? The Commission herself has recently acknowledged that EU crop based biofuels are sustainable. No impact on food and feed prices, no environmental downside.
On the contrary, those biofuels that would now be excluded are by far and large the main contributor to decarbonizing the transport sector. On top of promoting employment in rural areas, sustaining farmers’ incomes and improving the availability of high quality protein for animal feed.
How do the Commission services want to reach the new ambitious targets of decarbonisation of the transport sector, within the EU Green Deal, if they wish to cut those sustainable biofuels from the benefits of sustainable finance?
The sentence is thus tantamount to “shooting ones feet”. It shatters the potential of sustainable biofuels to decarbonize transport. It should be erased.