Environmental groups object to EU ‘waste-based fossil fuels’ proposal

Environmental groups object to EU ‘waste-based fossil fuels’ proposal
European Commissioner for Climate Action Miguel Arias Cañete © Arno Mikkor (EU2017EE)

An alliance of environmental activism groups has written to the European Commission to warn against proposed revisions to the renewable energy directive’s ‘waste-based fossil fuels’ regulation.

The proposed revisions to the renewable energy directive initially listed ‘waste-based fossil fuels’ as liquid and gaseous fuels produced from waste streams of non-renewable origin, but which can be converted into – or used in the production of – renewable transport fuels

An amendment to the commission’s proposal by the European Parliament added to the definition of ‘waste-based fossil fuels’ waste which is produced from solid streams. This addition has already received support from four member states, and if implemented, could see the production of transport fuels from non-recyclable plastic waste.

What are the environmental concerns?

The environmental groups which have objected to the proposal include European-level organisations such as Zero Waste Europe and Friends of the Earth Europe, as well as national groups in Greece, Germany, Estonia, the UK, Ireland, Portugal and Bulgaria.

In a letter addressed to European Commissioner for the Environment Miguel Arias Cañete, Bulgarian Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova and José Blanco López MEP, the coalition argues that the policy of using non-recyclable plastics to create transport fuel would be ‘equivalent to the use of fossil sources’, and that it therefore serves to confuse European environmental and circular economy policy.

What does the coalition of environmental groups hope to achieve?

The letter reads: ‘The Renewable Energy Directive was developed to promote the use of energy from renewable sources in the EU, in order to fight climate change and encourage the shift to a low-carbon economy. Fuel production from non-renewable solid waste such as plastics is … the opposite of renewable energy.’

Further, the coalition explains that it views the inclusion of this policy in the renewable energy directive ‘a harmful distortion of the concept of renewable energy, and inconsistent with EU circular economy and climate policies’.

Concluding the letter, the groups call for the exclusion of non-renewable solid waste from the definition of ‘waste-based fossil fuels’ in the commission’s proposed revisions to the renewable energy directive.

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