Thursday, May 22, 2008

Government proposes new measures to encourage sustainable Biofuels

Transport Secretary Douglas Alexander underlined the Government's commitment to sustainable biofuels today, as he launched a consultation on an environmental reporting system for this type of fuel 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 means that by 2010, 5% of all the fuel sold on UK forecourts should come from biofuels. This is expected to save 1 million tones of carbon a year, the equivalent of taking 1 million cars off the road.

In addition to the consultation, the Secretary of State today announced that:

* from April 2010 the Government aims to reward biofuels under the RTFO according to the amount of carbon they save. This will be subject to compatibility with EU and WTO requirements and future consultation on the environmental and economic impacts;

* from April 2011 the Government aims to reward biofuels under the RTFO 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 we expect to see from biofuels used to meet the RTFO, the proportion of biofuels from feedstock grown to recognised sustainability standards and the amount of information we expect 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.

Douglas Alexander said:

"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."

To receive certificates under the RTFO scheme from April 2008, it is intended that 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.

Our approach will be piloted with a number of transport fuel suppliers alongside the public consultation.

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