Page last updated at 14:49 GMT, Thursday, 11 September 2008 15:49 UK

EU in crop biofuel goal rethink

A field of wheat in Dover, UK
Campaigners say food crops should not fuel cars

European Union lawmakers have voted to set a limit on targets to increase the use of road transport biofuels.

Campaigners say that biofuels from grains and food crops contribute to food price inflation.

The original EU target that 10% of all road transport fuel should come from renewable sources by 2020 did not set limits for crop biofuels.

A committee of the European Parliament has now voted to limit such fuels to 6% of the 10% target.

At least 4% of the total will have to be achieved using electricity or hydrogen from renewable sources, or from second-generation biofuels from waste or non-food crops.

Green MEP Claude Turmes, of Luxembourg, welcomed the decision.

"While the maintenance of a binding target for biofuels is a bitter pill to swallow, the committee has at least strengthened the safeguards against the damaging impact of agri-fuels in this directive," he said.

The panel also approved a mid-term goal of 5% of road transport fuel from renewable sources by 2015, of which one fifth should not be food crop-based biofuels.

Analysts say that a couple of years ago, biofuels looked like a perfect solution for the 27-member bloc, which was keen to lower carbon emissions, protect the environment and find alternative energy solutions.

But the longer-term impact on food prices and deforestation, especially in the developing world, has prompted a rethink of the original targets.

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