"There are still some open questions, and that’s why we couldn’t reach a political agreement," lithuanian minister jaroslav neverovic said on thursday. He chaired the meeting because lithuania currently holds the presidency of EU states.
The EU is looking for ways to slow down the production of conventional biofuels from rapeseed, cereals or soybeans. Critics fear displacement of flat land for growing food. But calculating displacement effects from spray plants is considered difficult. Instead, the EU wants to require new biofuels from clear sludge or algae.
A minority of countries refused to accept a compromise proposal from lithuania. While poland and hungary took the compromise too far, it was criticized by italy, denmark, the netherlands and luxembourg as too lax. Germany wanted to agree despite reservations.
EU climate commissioner connie hedegaard spoke on twitter of an "unholy alliance between the most ambitious and least ambitious" EU member states. The delay also means uncertainty for the biofuel industry.
German industry associations, meanwhile, reacted with relief to the failure to reach an agreement. "The compromise did not contain adequate provisions to stop rainforest clearing". But he had severely damaged the european biofuel industry and agriculture," said elmar baumann, managing director of the association of the german biofuel industry (VDB). The german bioethanol industry association said there was no "scientifically sound basis" for calculating the displacement effects of biofuel.
The postponement was met with a mixed response from environmental associations. "Sitting out the decision is no solution," explained jenny walther-thob of the WWF. "We need a clear commitment not to tolerate hunger in the world."NABU federal manager leif miller, on the other hand, saw the blockade as positive: "no agreement is therefore always better than a lazy compromise at the expense of the environment and food security."
Lithuania had proposed capping the requirement for conventional biofuel in the transport sector at seven percent – the original commission proposal was more ambitious at five percent. Currently, the share of biofuel is already around five percent.
In addition, according to the proposal, it should be up to the EU states to define sub-targets for the expansion of environmentally friendly biofuel from algae or straw. The background to this is a target that the EU has set itself: according to this target, renewable energies are to account for ten percent of the transport sector by 2020.
EU energy commissioner gunther oettinger had warned of failure: "we believe we will be none the wiser in a year’s time," he said. Now that the agreement has failed for the time being, the legislative project is a long way off. It was not to be completed before the european elections in spring.