To date, biofuels used in Europe must comply with a set of EU legally binding sustainability criteria. These criteria were set by the Renewable Energy Directive (Article 17) and completed with the Directive on Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC Directive). These criteria must be respected for biofuels consumed in Europe in order to count towards the 2020 Renewable Energy and Renewable Energy transport targets, and be entitled to receive incentives.

To be considered sustainable, biofuels must achieve greenhouse gas savings of at least 50% in comparison to fossil fuels. In 2018, it will rise again to 60%, but only for new production plants. All life cycle emissions are taken into account when calculating greenhouse gas savings. This includes emissions from cultivation, processing, and transport. Biofuels cannot be grown in areas converted from land with previously high carbon stock such as wetlands or forests. Biofuels cannot be produced from raw materials obtained from land with high biodiversity such as primary forests or highly biodiverse grassland.

The role of biomass

Biofuels are essential to reach the EU 2020's 10% RES in the transport sector. According to Member State projections, biomass will contribute to more than 85% of this target.

Bioenergy Europe's position

Bioenergy Europe supports the approach of the EU institutions to set common rules to ensure biofuels sustainability. However, Bioenergy Europe regrets the instability of the legislative framework which has recently changed (ILUC) and does not bring certainty to investors. While sustainability criteria is important, policy framework stability is also essential.