Minister announces lower biofuel target


The Government today announced a lower target for biofuel use that it says reflects concerns about the environmental impact of growing crops for fuel.

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan this morning outlined a revised target of 3 per cent of transport fuel by 2010. A target of 5.75 per cent was set last year by the Minister for Transport, Noel Dempsey.

Although it has reduced its target, Minister Ryan said this morning that the Government remained committed to achieving the EU goal of 10 per cent of transport fuel from biofuels by 2020.

Until recently, biofuels had been considered a viable alternative to fossil fuels such as oil and gas.

However, the transfer of land from food for biofuel crops has been linked with increased global food prices. In addition, a number of studies have led to doubts as to whether biofuels are as environmentally friendly as originally thought.

Under the revised plan, biofuels in Ireland must be entirely compliant with EU sustainability criteria, which are currently being finalised. In addition, biofuels must come from sustainable sources.

“This new target reflects growing concerns, that increases in the amounts of biofuels being produced were having some adverse environmental and developmental effects around the world,” said Mr Ryan.

“However, biofuels remain a fundamentally good idea, given that we need alternative sources of fuel. The era of cheap oil is over and Ireland requires new methods of fuelling our transport fleet,” he added.

The Minister said the Government’s targets up to 2020 will be continually reviewed to take into consideration evidence on the effects of biofuels on global food prices.