Communicating And Advocating ILUC Science


Project in a nutshell:

2C, in partnership Transport and Environment (T&E), in cooperation with Stichting BirdLife Europe (BLE) and the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) performed advocacy and communication work at national level on the topic of Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) and biofuels sustainability. Early 2016 

Period: 2015 – present (ongoing)

Sponsor and Support: NORAD and T&E

Value: EUR 10,000


In 2009, the European Union (EU) adopted the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) introducing a 20% target for renewable energy by 2020 and a specific 10% target for renewables in transport. A separate target, aiming at 6% greenhouse gas reduction from transport fuels has been introduced through the fuel quality directive (FQD). With these two targets expected to be met mainly through land based biofuels according to the Member States’ plans, these policies have transformed the EU into a main driver for the development of biofuels worldwide. These biofuels are accelerating pressure on global land use and driving the expansion of crops into natural habitats leading to massive greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and damages to biodiversity.

The most important gap in these standards is that they fail to address the issue known as indirect land use change (ILUC) – the process whereby existing agricultural land is taken for biofuels production, driving food and feed demand toward newly cleared land. A significant body of science has proven that ILUC negates the supposed climate benefits of the biofuels policy and that most biofuels currently supported in the EU are actually increasing net emissions when compared to the fossil fuels they replace[1].

To address this issue, the Commission released a legislative proposal in October 2012, which was a good first step but lacked ambition. This proposal was submitted to the European Parliament which adopted its first reading position in September 2013. The Council adopted its first reading position under the Greek Presidency in June 2014 and this position is expected to be transmitted to the European Parliament early January 2015. This will mark the beginning of the 2nd reading process, during which the Environment Committee is expected to adopt a position and negotiate with the Council (so-called “trilogues”) to finalize a 2nd reading position.

The 2nd reading process is governed by strong deadlines[2] and the Environment Committee is expected to consider the file around 21st/22nd of January, vote around the 23rd/24th of February and finalize its position in Plenary in April 2015.

Early 2015 will hence be crucial to move the dossier forward and allow a biofuels reform to finally materialize. The goal will be to get a strong position from the Environment Committee and make sure that the trilogues lead to an ambitious 2nd reading position from Council and Parliament. During the entire process, NGOs in Brussels and at national level are expected to inform policy-makers about the latest scientific information and advocate for an ambitious reform to reduce EU demand for unsustainable biofuels. Most of this advocacy work is expected to take place in the period January-April 2015.

Following the finalization of the reform, Member States will have to transpose the new EU rules in national law, meaning that NGOs will have to start following this process closely at national level. The political debate will also focus even more on the post 2020 policies and the framework needed to decarbonize transport fuels. We therefore expect national NGOs to engage in discussions with NGOs in Brussels on the strategy for post-2020 policies and to advocate for dedicated legislative framework to decarbonise transport fuels with MEPs and ministry officials.


[1] “Driving to destruction: The impacts of Europe’s biofuel plans on carbon emissions and land”, November 2010,

[2] Parliament has only 3 months (+1 month additional) to finalize its 2nd reading position.