Multiple-Authorship blog platform on issues related to sugarcane cultivation and industrial applications
Members of the European Parliament finally endorsed the COREPER text on ILUC yesterday morning in plenary. After the disappointment of not winning concessions from Member States on any of their main points, MEPs have – against the will of many – voted in favour of the Council ILUC text. Final rubber stamp (for real this time!) should be given by Member States at the next Energy Council on 8 June.
In the meantime, in case you are confused on the outcome of almost three years of negotiations, here below you can find a summary (I couldn’t help thinking about this movie, which also happened to be quoted by Mr Torvalds during yesterday’s debate!)
- Little consolation that the final cap agreed is set at 7%. My comment is: better than nothing! We have always criticized such a black and white approach, but we don’t want to be too negative and at least a higher cap than the 5% proposed by the Commission will allow a little share of bioethanol to remain in the EU biofuels market.
- The 0.5% non-binding target for advanced biofuels. With no incentives for advanced biofuels, their ability to participate to the 3% left of the 10% RED target is even more in doubt…
- …and, of course, the exclusion from the deal of the 6.5% sub-target for bioethanol. More sustainable biofuels will therefore not be incentivized in Europe and Member States will not move towards an E10 blend. A real disappointment for bioethanol, considering that biodiesel will cover most of the 7% cap.
It’s time to turn the ‘ILUC page’ and look beyond 2020. Policymakers need to start thinking already about the longer term and set up a credible framework for the post-2020. Low-ILUC biofuels should be promoted and sugarcane bioethanol is one of those.
We see two important milestones in particular: the revision of the Renewable Energy Directive in 2016/2017 and the wider discussions around the decarbonisation of transport. In both cases, we will be there to put sustainable biofuels at center stage.
Last Friday, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) held a workshop on the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) re-adoption process. Updates to CARB’s indirect land-use change (ILUC) modeling and carbon intensity lifecycle analysis reinforce a key fact – sugarcane ethanol is the most environmentally friendly biofuel supplying today’s market.
CARB’s revision of indirect land-use change (ILUC) modeling resulted in reduced penalties for Brazilian sugarcane ethanol and the lowest overall number in the LCFS, confirming it as the lowest-carbon biofuel available at commercial scale today.
This positive result is due to the sugarcane industry’s innovative sustainability efforts including reducing deforestation, promoting a double-crop system in production, and expanding mechanized harvesting instead of pre-harvesting burning techniques.
However, sugarcane ethanol’s environmental benefits in the LCFS would be even more significant if CARB included the emissions benefits of electricity cogeneration in sugarcane mills using leftover plant material, which displaces fossil fuel power generation.
UNICA was disappointed CARB has chosen to apply a U.S.-style average electricity mix to Brazil rather than crediting sugarcane biofuel producers for this marginal displacement of fossil energy. The average electricity mix approach may make sense for the U.S., but it does not realistically calculate the low-carbon benefits of bioenergy in sugarcane production, and we urge CARB to reconsider this decision.
LCFS re-adoption will have a major impact on America’s single largest transportation fuels market, but will also reverberate in states now launching their own LCFS policies. California has always led America in clean fuels policy, and CARB’s approach will once again stand as a national model for emulation – let’s ensure policymakers get biofuels policy right.