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ECN publication
Developments in EU biofuels policy related to sustainability: overview and outlook.
Published by: Publication date:
ECN Policy Studies 16-11-2007
ECN report number: Document type:
ECN-V--07-023 Article
Number of pages: Full text:
10 Download PDF  

Published in: Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining (Wiley), , 2007, Vol.Volume 1, Issue 4, p.292-302.

In the current debate on present and future biofuels policy, sustainability issues play an important role. In this perspective, we discuss a number of factors in the framing of the biofuels sustainability debate, and describe their role over the last 25 years or so in which biofuels have been on the political agenda. Our first conclusion is that biofuels policy is related to several underlying objectives, such as climate change, security of supply and other drivers. Therefore, the policy will structurally need to be monitored in its impacts, in order to keep these impacts in concordance with these objectives. In the long term, biofuels policy might be substituted by instruments that more directly relate to the objectives. Second, current sustainability issues concerning biofuels relate to either the production chain or to the regional system in which biofuels compete for land. Finding suitable indicators and setting up monitoring schemes are key challenges. Furthermore, a safeguarding scheme needs to meet two conflicting requirements: on the one hand it is important to implement it over many regions and many sectors (including non-energy), but on the other hand the problem requires implementation in the short term. Starting with monitoring only may cause an issue of legitimacy. Finally, we propose some elements for a robust development strategy. This includes pushing forward with a sustainability safeguarding scheme, within the given constraints. During the start-up period of such schemes, non-certified biofuels and feedstock might be discouraged, simultaneously stimulating production initiatives operating under certification.

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