Transport is responsible for more than 25 % of the EU’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and a major contributor to climate change. Cutting emissions from transport is pivotal to achieving the EU target of becoming climate neutral by 2050.
To support a reduction in GHG emissions from transport, the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) sets the target that fuel suppliers should reduce the emission intensity of fuels sold in the EU by 6 % by 2020, compared with 2010. In 2017, the average emission intensity of fuels in the EU was 3.4 % lower than in 2010, thus failing to meet the indicative target of a 4 % reduction by 2017. In 2018, the average emission intensity of fuels in the EU was 3.7% lower than in 2010, and in 2019, a 4.3% reduction had been achieved. Despite the improvement, as of 2019, the EU was not on track to meet its 2020 target.
The decrease in emission intensity of road transport fuels between 2018 and 2019 can be attributed mainly to an increase (from 5.2% to 5.6%) in the proportion of biofuels used, as biofuels have a lower emission intensity than fossil fuels. Also, there was a decrease in the emission intensity of the biofuels used between 2018 and 2019, because of a small decrease in the use of oil crops, which generally have a higher emission intensity than other feedstocks in biofuel production.
Biofuel use has contributed to a reduction in the GHG emission intensity of road transport in the EU. However, it is important to ensure that rising demand for biofuels does not have a negative impact on land use by displacing the production of food and feed crops and driving the conversion of land — such as forests and wetlands — to agricultural land, leading indirectly to increased GHG emissions. This phenomenon is known as indirect land us change (ILUC). The FQD requires that Member States identify the feedstock from which their biofuels originate and estimate emissions resulting from ILUC for certain feedstocks.
However, emissions from ILUC are not considered for assessing compliance with the 6% 2020 reduction target. If ILUC is taken into account, the average GHG emission intensity of fuels consumed in 2019 is only 2.6% lower than in 2010; it decreased between 2018 and 2019 because of the decreased use of oils crops substituted by sugars.