Summary of the report on web discussion on Biofuels The prevailing opinion among participants of the discussion was that 10% share of renewable energy resources in transport till 2020 could not be achieved sustainably. Biofuels can present just one part of the solution, under condition that the production and usage of it is cleaner than today. It is important that the vehicle is more efficient. The participants think that the reduction of emission in transport can be reached also through public transport growth, through reducing the number of vehicles, through education and raising awareness, through walking more and by programmes for health strengthening. This problem should be dealt by long-term strategy. This discussion put out the reasonableness of setting the long-term objectives if today’s objectives have not been achieved yet. The question of influence on decision makers to tackle transport emissions was also exposed. There should be the combination of measures not just one (e.g. biofuels). Place and time: web forum Predsedovanje.si, 5 March 2008 – 20 May 2008 Topic: Discussion on biofuels Number of participants in the web discussion: 6 Number of received opinions and suggestions: 7 Number of visits of the web discussion: 4183 Institutional framework: Focus association for sustainable development Reporting on the progress of the consultation: web portal Predsedovanje.si, interested public, Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning Webpage: http://www.predsedovanje.si/si/forum/biogoriva-v-transportu-EU.html Our proposals The current proposal is that the objective of 10% renewable energy in the transport sector is conditioned with fulfilment of the sustainability criteria, which is welcome. However, as numerous studies show, among which also an internal Commission study, there are serious doubts that the 10% objective is achievable under such criteria by 2020. We believe that people and their environment should not be victims of the swiftly growing transport sector and therefore we propose the following to be the minimum for a sustainable biofuel policy: We urge to reject the 10% target for renewable energy in the transport sector in the Renewable Energy Directive and limit the amount of biofuels that count towards the 10% greenhouse gas reduction target in the Fuel Quality Directive. The proposed sustainability criteria should be substantially strengthened to ensure sustainable production of biofuels. The sustainability criteria should be applied to all sorts of biofuels, regardless of where they have been produced. The greenhouse gas savings should be at least 60% compared with the EU’s current average fuel mix. Only biofuels that are truly beneficial to climate change mitigation should be used and the most efficient use of sustainable biomass should be secured. The proposed threshold should be applied immediately after the entry into force of both Directives and not in 2015. Minimum environmental safeguards (sustainable agricultural practices, limited use of fertilisers and agrochemicals, measures for the protection of water and soil, preventing extension of monocultures and the release into the environment of any invasive species or genetically modified organisms) should be part of the Directives. Mandatory social standards should be respected, based on international conventions and agreements. Safe working environment and conditions should be secured and land rights should be protected. The criteria must also provide for monitoring of impacts on food security and implementation of corrective measures when necessary. The system of verification and monitoring has to be improved to secure the implementation of the sustainability criteria. Indirect land-use change effects have to be adequately addressed. If these indirect impacts are not included, the system can fail to ensure that only sustainable biofuels are supported. The criteria should ensure that the biomass is used in the most efficient way, only where its greenhouse gas avoiding impact is largest. The amount of sustainable biomass that is available can be more efficiently used in the electricity and heating sector. The sustainability criteria must be applied to production of all forms of bio-energy, unattached to the origin of production. Only meaningful criteria can help preventing further damages in the environment and societies and therefore we strongly urge you not to support weak proposals for sustainability criteria, even if more time is needed to take the latest scientific evidence into consideration. The report will be sent to the non-governmental organisations, the Government Communication Office (GCO), to the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning and to other interested general public. The conclusions of the discussion will be presented to the presidency of the EU as a letter before the Environmental Council (5 June 2008) and before the Energy Council (6 June 2008). Marjetka Benčina, moderator Focus association for sustainable development www.focus.si The report was prepared as a part of the Informational-communicational web portal and other activities for the involvement of civil society in the Slovenian presidency of the European Union, co-financed by the Ministry of public administration (MPA) and the Government Communication Office (GCO). The project was implemented by CNVOS (Centre for Information Service, Cooperation and Development of NGOs www.cnvos.si).
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