ePURE’s Roadmap to 2030 – The role of ethanol in decarbonising Europe’s road transport
The European Union has set the objectives to have at least 27% of renewables in its energy mix by 2030 and reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 40% compared to 1990 levels. The transport sector currently accounts for 25% of the EU’s total emissions, and while it has started to experience a small decrease of its emissions since 2008, it is the only one whose emissions have increased (by 20.5%) compared to 1990 levels(1). This means that to achieve the 2030 targets and put the EU on track for its 2050 objectives (a 60% reduction set out in the 2011 Transport White Paper), considerable efforts will be required to decrease emissions in transport. The impact assessment accompanying the Communication on the 2030 energy and climate framework estimates between 12-20% emissions reduction in transport is needed along with 12-14% incorporation of renewable energy sources in transport (RES-T)(2). Decarbonising transport is therefore of key importance to ensuring the success of the 2030 ambitions.
The European Council gave a mandate to the European Commission to ‘further examine instruments and measures for a comprehensive and technology neutral approach for the promotion of emissions reduction and energy efficiency in transport, for electric transportation and for renewable energy sources in transport also after 2020(3). The European Commission is preparing a Communication on transport decarbonisation for the period post-2020 (due July 2016), which should lead to actions for the ‘development and deployment of electric vehicles, second and third generation biofuels and other alternative, sustainable fuels’.
The EU must propose clear, consistent and binding measures that increase the climate performance of transport fuels, while decreasing the over-reliance on diesel and include incentives for the deployment of sustainable low carbon fuel technologies, including both conventional and cellulosic ethanol. The recommendations outlined in this Roadmap should be considered in the context of a number of industry wide issues that need to be addressed in policy formation.
Overview of policy recommendations:
- A binding policy framework to decarbonise transport is crucial to meeting EU climate ambitions.
- Rebalancing the diesel-petrol market is vital – preferential support for diesel must end.
- Taxation must support climate friendly fuels, not hinder them.
- Multiple counting rules work against the overall ambition to decrease the use of oil and reduce GHG emissions in transport.
- Low ILUC risk biofuels, such as EU ethanol, should contribute without restriction to the 2030 targets.
- Biofuels from existing investments should be allowed to contribute to the 2030 targets if they comply with the GHG thresholds set in the current legislation.
- The use of palm oil and its derivatives should be prohibited in the EU until global peatland conversion is controlled.
- EU agricultural cross-compliance obligations should be extended to biofuels produced from non-EU feedstock.
- Existing sustainability criteria for biofuels must be maintained and extended to all bioenergy uses.
- The Fuel Quality Directive must be extended and strengthened by introducing an ambitious and binding ramping up target to reduce the carbon intensity of transport fuels by at least 12% (against a 2010 baseline) by 2030, of which at least a quarter should come from advanced biofuels.
- Member States should be encouraged to maintain at least 10% renewable energy use in transport beyond 2020 to preserve the baseline agreed under the Renewable Energy Directive.
- A dedicated binding target to reduce transport fuel emissions by at least 3% should be achieved solely from advanced biofuels by 2030.
- Intermediate and long-term targets for advanced biofuels should be set that allow investments.
- Higher ethanol blends should be incentivised across the fuels value chain to maximise the reduction of emissions and air pollutants further.
(1) Directorate General Climate Action, European Commission
(2) Impact Assessment “A policy framework for climate and energy in the period from 2020 up to 2030”, European Commission (2014)
(3) European Council Conclusions, October 2014