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UK Government Proposes New Measures to Encourage Sustainable Biofuels
22 June 2007
UK Transport Secretary Douglas Alexander launched a public consultation on an environmental reporting system for biofuels and a package of measures to complement the reporting requirement.
The consultation is a key part of work on the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO), which targets a 2.5% renewable fuel component in 2008/9, then 3.75% in 2009/10, and 5% in 2010/11. Areas covered in the consultation are: the scope and format of monthly and annual reports; verification requirements; and default values to be used to calculate the carbon savings offered by different biofuels when precise data is not available.
In addition to the consultation:
Starting in April 2010, the government will reward biofuels under the RTFO based on the amount of carbon the fuel saves. This will be subject to compatibility with EU and WTO requirements and future consultation on the environmental and economic impacts;
Starting in April 2011, the government will reward biofuels only if they meet appropriate sustainability standards. This will be subject to the same provisos as above and subject to the development of such standards for the relevant feedstocks.
The government will ask the RTFO Administrator to report every three months on the effectiveness of the RTFO’s environmental reporting system, and on the carbon and sustainability effects of the RTFO;
The government intends to set challenging targets for: the level of greenhouse gas savings from biofuels used to meet the RTFO; the proportion of biofuels from feedstock grown to recognized sustainability standards; and the amount of information to be included in sustainability reports;
The government has asked the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership to explore the feasibility of a voluntary labelling scheme, allowing responsible retailers to show that the biofuels they supply are genuinely sustainable. Any scheme would need to be compatible with WTO rules.
Proposed targets for biofuels are:
50% of biofuel feedstocks should meet a qualifying sustainability standard in 2009/10, rising to 80% in 2010/11;
The fuel supplied should have an annual greenhouse gas saving of 40% over fossil fuels in 2008/09, 50% in 2009/10 and 60% in 2010/11; and
Transport fuel suppliers should be able to complete, with known data, 35% of the relevant data fields within the monthly reports in 2008/09, 65% in 2009/10, and 80% in 2010/11.
Biofuels present an opportunity to address the climate change impact of transport. But we must ensure appropriate safeguards are in place. The UK is leading international debate on this issue. We are one of the first countries to develop a detailed methodology to allow transport fuel suppliers to report in detail on the carbon and sustainability impacts of their biofuels. And the comprehensive package of new measures we are proposing today only strengthens this global leadership role, by making clear our determination to put in place a mandatory sustainability framework for biofuels, putting us at the forefront globally of tackling this important issue.—Douglas Alexander
To receive certificates under the RTFO scheme from April 2008, transport fuel suppliers will have to complete a report on the carbon savings offered by their biofuels, as well as on the wider sustainability impacts associated with them. The RTFO Administrator will publish information on the environmental impacts of the RTFO. The consultation sets out the detail of the proposed requirements for these reports.
The consultation closes on 13 September. The RTFO Administrator will publish the final version of the reporting requirements as soon as possible after the RTFO Order has been made. The Department for Transport (DfT) will pilot the approach with a number of transport fuel suppliers alongside the public consultation.
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