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July 29, 2016

European Court Of Auditors Releases Report On EU Biofuel Sustainability Certifications


On July 21, 2016, the European Court of Auditors released Special Report No 18/2016: The EU system for the certification of sustainable biofuels. This report assessed the existing biofuels sustainability certification framework of the European Commission (EC) and highlighted key issues with the system. Issues with the certification framework could undermine the European Union's (EU) 2020 goals for renewable energy. The report determined that the EC does not properly track working conditions occurring during biofuel production, indirect land use-change (ILUC) caused by biofuel production, and environmental requirements of feedstock sources. The Court made several recommendations based on the audit:

1. For future recognitions, the Commission should carry out a more comprehensive assessment of voluntary schemes to ensure that the schemes:

(i) assess the extent to which certified biofuels production entails a significant risk of negative socioeconomic effects and of ILUC. To this end, the Commission should require voluntary schemes to report once a year based on their certification activities any relevant information concerning the above mentioned risk;
(ii) effectively verify that EU biofuel feedstock producers comply with EU environmental requirements for agriculture;
(iii) provide sufficient evidence of the origin of waste and residues used for the production of biofuels.

2. For future recognitions, the Commission should assess whether the voluntary schemes' governance reduces the risk of conflict of interests and request the voluntary schemes to ensure transparency.
3. The Commission should supervise recognised voluntary schemes by:

(i) checking that the schemes'certification operations comply with the standards presented for recognition;
(ii) requesting voluntary schemes to set up a transparent complaints system.

4. The Commission should propose that the Member States support their statistics with evidence on the reliability of the biofuels quantities reported.
5. To ensure comparability of the statistics on sustainable biofuels and to increase assurance on the reliability of data on advanced biofuels, the Commission should propose to the Member States a harmonisation of the definition of waste substances.