Fianna Fáil Spokesperson for Communications, Transport and Natural Resources, Michael Moynihan TD, has strongly criticized proposed EU legislation which aims to cap crop-based bio-fuel production to a maximum of 5% of total transport fuel.
The EU has also proposed that all public subsidies for crop-based bio-fuels be terminated after the current legislation expires in 2020, which according to Deputy Moynihan would effectively decimate a European sector now worth €17 billion a year.
Previously, the Commission’s target had been to increase crop-based bio-fuels and bio-liquids to a minimum of 10% of transport fuels, now they are proposing capping this to a maximum of 5%.
Deputy Moynihan commented: “Not only will this be disastrous for struggling indigenous biomass industries but plans to revive domestic sugar production will also take a hit, as these plans were linked to bio-fuel production. After the indigenous sugar industry was shut down in 2006, due to faulty accounting information provided from Europe, the EU Commission is now proposing to yet again thwart efforts to ensure a thriving sugar industry in this country.
“It is estimated that a revived indigenous sugar industry would create 5,000 jobs, would be highly profitable, and would greatly assist struggling tillage farmers who rely on beet for their crop rotation and who have been pushed to their limits in recent months and years. The proposed plan for the revival of the Irish sugar industry is coupled with the additional production of ethanol fuel, an increased use of which is a stated goal of the Commission’s proposals.
“The debate which has led to these draft proposals centres on the belief that increased bio-fuel production from crops would lead to less land being available for food production. This seems to miss the point that food production is not possible without fuel and as hydro-carbon reserves increasingly diminish, it is paramount for Ireland and the EU to have a sufficient indigenous supply of transport fuel. Without this, Europe will undoubtedly remain highly dependent on increasingly expensive imported oil.
“The EU currently has a binding target which aims at sourcing 10% of road transport fuel from renewable sources by the end of the decade but by limiting crop-based bio-fuels to 5%, this target is impossible. The only alternative to meeting this target is to develop so-called “advanced” bio-fuels made from municipal waste, algae, or forest residues.
“By not supporting this industry, European bio-fuel will merely be replaced by non-EU bio-fuel and fossil fuel imports. Europe imports approximately 84% of its transport fuel from abroad and this decision will only serve to decrease Europe’s energy security and increase Greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector.
“I have made my views on this matter clear to the European Commissioner for Energy, Gunther Oettinger, when he recently visited the Committee for Communications and Transport. I now call on the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources to back Irish tillage farmers and bio-fuel producers on this issue and make plain to the EU Commission the misguided nature of such a dramatic U-turn on sound policy.”