Fri, 11 Jun 2010


By Associated Press, Brussels
The European Union's top energy official set what he calls the world's toughest standards for biofuels Thursday, demanding that producers meet strict environmental criteria in exchange for the right to market their products.

EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger says he's crafted the world's "most stringent" certification regime to make "sure our biofuels meet the highest environmental standards."

Biofuel makers will be forced to prove they do not create greenhouse gas emissions or destroy forests or wetlands. The rules take effect immediately.

All EU nations have a target to replace 10 percent of transport fuel with biofuels by 2020 - up from 3.4 percent in 2008. Biofuels are usually mixed with petrol or diesel to allow car engines use them.

Environmentalists have complained that such targets could force developing countries to turn unspoiled tropical forest, peatlands or wetlands over to these new cash crops, thus removing a valuable way to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Activists are particularly worried about palm oil plantations in Malaysia and Indonesia, where native forests have been cleared for farmland. Palm oil is mostly added to food or products like soap and cosmetics, but is increasingly being used for biofuel.

To make sure most of its biofuel reduces real greenhouse gas emissions, the European Commission will create a system to calculate how much greenhouse gas is used to produce and transport the fuel until it arrives at the gas pump.