Parliament votes for cascading principle
The Environmental Committee of the European Parliament voted on their position on the proposed directive on Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) on Tuesday 24 February.

The ILUC directive, which amends the so-called Renewable Energy Directive (2009/28/EC) and the Fuel Quality Directive (98/70/EC), has been a long process. It is now in its second reading in Parliament, after the last rapporteur, Corrine Lepage, failed to receive negotiation mandate.

This time around the amended report was adopted with 39 votes in favour and 26 against. The Finnish rapporteur Nils Torvalds, ALDE, received negotiation mandate for the upcoming trilogue with the European Commission and the Council of the EU. The first trilogue session will be held in Stasbourg on 10 March.

The outcomes of the vote were both positive and negative from the forest owner point of view. Most alarming was the inclusion of the cascading principle as a binding element under the sustainability criteria of the Renewable Energy (RES) Directive Article 17.

Although the formulation of the text is watered down by adding that consideration should be taken to “regional and local economic and technological circumstances” when taking account the cascading principle, it is still of concern. Including it in the RES Directive alters it from a principle into EU legislation, without being clearly defined or assessed of its impacts. Furthermore, it will restrain the use of wood biomass for energy, contradicting the very objective of the ILUC directive. The original Commission proposal from 2012 did not include the cascading principle at all and the Council position included it in the reporting articles of RES (22 and 23), but not in the sustainability requirements.

Despite the cascading use principle, CEPF supports the inclusion of a binding target of 1,25% for advanced biofuels, providing a positive incentive for renewable raw materials, such as woody biomass from the European forests, which do not cause land use change.

CEPF, Copa-Cogeca and ELO sent a joint letter (see below) to the European Commission Vice-Presidents Katainen and Šefčovič and Commissioners Cañete and Hogan, in which they express their concerns on the outcome of the recent EP COM ENVI vote on ILUC.