University of Parma and IEFE/Bocconi University, Milan, Italy
Until 2008/2009, biofuels were considered among the best alternatives to oil consumption in a captive market such as transport fuels. Improvement of security of supply through partial substitution of imported oil, reduction of GHG emissions, improvement of income, and employment in the agricultural and rural sectors were quoted as the main drivers of the promotion of biofuels in Europe, as well as in the United States and Brazil. In the European Union, biofuels policy was supported mainly through Directive 2003/30. This article deals with the biofuel experience in Europe, providing a general analysis of the 2003/30 Directive. It includes an evaluation of the difficulties experienced in satisfying the requested targets, plus an assessment of the member states’ policies to support biofuels. Social and political consensus about biofuels decreased sharply when their ability to strongly decrease overall GHG emissions was questioned, and mainly when they were blamed of being responsible for the 2007-2008 food-price increase. Finally, a new Directive was approved on April 23rd, 2009, including the request for various certifications to prove the environmental sustainability of biofuels.
Key words: Greenhouse gas emissions, land-use changes, biofuels, EU policy.