Parlementaire tussenkomsten

(16/05/06) Biobrandstoffen

Bart Staes - De Commissie lanceerde op 8 maart jl. haar strategie om biobrandstoffen te promoten (COM(2006)34). Dit is echter sociaal en ecologisch niet zo vanzelfsprekend. Zo is het noodzakelijk dat een verplichte certificering van biobrandstoffen wordt opgestart. Deze moet verzekeren dat alle biobrandstoffen die op de markt komen, en in aanmerking willen komen voor een gunstige fiscale behandeling, voldoen aan een set van sociale en ecologische criteria. Voorts is het negatief dat de Commissie laat uitschijnen dat in ruil voor de inzet van biobrandstoffen, automobielproducenten minder inspanningen zouden moeten doen om zuiniger wagens te ontwikkelen en op de markt te brengen.

Welke visie heeft de Commissaris in het licht van deze problematieken, op het verzekeren van de ecologische integriteit van de inzet van biobrandstoffen?

Andris Piebalgs (Commissaris Energie) - Biofuels are needed for two main reasons. Firstly, our energy security depends on developing alternatives to oil. Among the solutions that can be put into practice today, there is none with the same potential as biofuels. Secondly, the transport sector is not contributing enough to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Biofuels can significantly contribute to this aim.

The EU has decided to achieve rapid development of biofuels use. The Biofuels Directive, adopted in 2003, set a reference value of a 2% market share for biofuels in 2005 and 5.75% in 2010, compared with a 0.2% share in 2000. In adopting national indicative targets under the Directive, Member States have been somewhat less ambitious, but, overall, the target is a share of about 1.4% in 2005.

In the light of this, the review of the functioning of the Biofuels Directive, which the Commission is due to carry out this year, is particularly important. We have just launched the public consultation exercise for this review. The public consultation poses a number of questions. First of all, will the 5.75% objective for 2010 be achieved through the present policies and measures? If not, what can be done to ensure that the objective will be achieved? Should the Community set objectives for the share of biofuels in 2015 and 2020? The Commission has taken no position on these questions so far.

Turning to the question of environmental impact, it is important to start from the basis that biofuels bring a number of environmental benefits. However, it is also true that their production can have some adverse effects on the environment. I believe that second-generation biofuels can have even greater environmental benefits and their introduction should be accelerated as much as possible.

The Commission will make sure, therefore, that the promotion of biofuels continues to bring benefits in environmental terms, as well as the benefit of security of supply. For that reason, as part of the review of the Directive, the Commission is asking for views on the introduction of a certification system. This could ensure that only biofuels whose cultivation meets required environmental standards count towards objectives in the Directive. The initial reaction of environmental NGOs, fuel suppliers and other stakeholders has been encouragingly positive.

As regards car manufacturers' obligations, carmakers have voluntarily agreed to limit average CO2 emissions from new cars to 140g per km by 2008/2009. The Commission does not consider that the use of biofuels should in any way reduce the objectives agreed upon with the car industry.

Bart Staes – Dank u, commissaris, voor uw antwoord. Ik ben heel blij dat de Commissie werk wil maken van een verdere verduurzaming van onze mobiliteit. Dat is absoluut noodzakelijk. Ik neem nota van uw engagementen, maar ik wil u het volgende vragen. Het gaat niet alleen over de productie van biobrandstoffen hier in de Europese Unie, het gaat ook over de productie en eventueel de aankoop van biobrandstoffen van buiten de Europese Unie. En daar bereiken ons toch berichten dat die productie onder niet zo gunstige omstandigheden gebeurt: kaalslag van het Amazonewoud, sociale uitbuiting, overmatig gebruik van pesticiden. Wat zal de Commissie daaraan doen?

En dan hebt u geantwoord op mijn vraag inzake de automobielindustrie. Maar een vraag waarop u niet geantwoord hebt: moet de automobielindustrie er zich niet toe verplichten om ook wagens te gaan produceren die minder gebruiken? Dat is immers toch de inzet van het debat. Minder brandstoffen ...

(de spreker wordt onderbroken door de Voorzitter)

Andris Pibalgs - The same environmental sustainability standards should apply outside the Union as well. As I said in my answer to the first question, we should look upon the issues in our trade negotiations.

The development of biofuels should not be at the expense of the rainforests. It must also be done in a sustainable way. I believe that we have all the means to follow that path.

On the car industry’s obligation to make more efficient engines and more efficient cars, we will follow that path as well. It does not replace the other path, however: they are two separate tracks going in the same direction – security of supply, competitiveness and sustainability. But on the matter of improved standards for cars, the answer is the use of biofuels. Only both combined can give the necessary result.

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De Groenen/EVAGroenen en Europese Vrije Alliantie in het Europees Parlement.

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