The European Union agreed Thursday on a series of measures to promote green energy after resolving a long-running battle over biofuels.
But Italy would not drop its demand to review the legislation in 2014, preventing the EU from signing off on a deal to get 20 percent of the region’s energy from renewable sources by 2020.
“We have agreement on everything except the deletion of the review clause,” the European Parliament’s lead negotiator, Claude Turmes, said after talks that went on until the early hours.
The green energy laws are a major part of an EU package to fight climate change, which it hopes will help spur a global deal with other big polluters like China and the United States.
“Europe faces a moment of truth over the next week on the issue of climate change as to whether this package goes through and goes through with environmental integrity,” said the British secretary for energy and climate change, Ed Miliband.
Until Thursday, debate over biofuels had been deadlocked, holding back other measures to promote wind farms, solar power and energy from tides.
The European Commission proposed in January that 10 percent of road transport fuel should come from renewable sources by 2020. Much of that would come from biofuels, creating a large market that is coveted by exporters like Brazil and Indonesia, along with EU farming nations.
But environmentalists say biofuels made from grains and oilseeds increase food prices and force subsistence farmers to expand agricultural land by hacking into rainforests and draining wetlands, a process known as indirect land-use change.
The stand-off over biofuels ended with an agreement that up to almost a third of the EU’s 10 percent goal would be met not through biofuels but through electric cars and trains.
“The 10 percent agri-fuels target has been seriously undermined,” said Turmes, the negotiator. “The future cars will be electric,” he added, “and there will be a strong push to get all trains in Europe to run on green electricity.”
The European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, will also come forward with proposals in 2010 to limit indirect land-use change, and biofuels made from non-food sources will be promoted. Turmes said Italy’s demand for a review would undermine investment security and put at risk thousands of new jobs. Environmental groups also criticized the proposal.
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