In its response to the Government’s consultation on implementing the transport elements of the European Renewable Energy Directive (RED), the Council has called for the introduction of mandatory certification of biofuels, including both environmental and social sustainability criteria.

As part of its implementation of the RED, the Government has proposed that biofuel supplied in the UK and counted towards the UK’s Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) must demonstrably meet certain environmental standards, for example, by delivering minimum greenhouse gas emission savings.

With regards to social sustainability standards – relating to the upholding of basic rights such as the right to food or ensuring just reward – no similar requirement has been proposed. Rather, the Government has suggested that only verified information relating to measures enforced to take into account social impacts (for example, food security impacts) should be provided. Furthermore, provision of the information would not be necessary in order for a biofuel to be counted towards the RTFO.

Drawing on its recent report Biofuels: ethical issues, the Council urges the Government to replace its current national biofuel targets with a more sophisticated target-based strategy that fully accounts for the wider consequences of biofuel production – including social impacts.

The Council therefore recommends that in order to count towards the UK RTFO, biofuels must be shown to have met both environmental criteria and social criteria. A certification scheme should be used to this end; a good starting point is the voluntary scheme developed by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels.

Read the Council’s response to the Government’s RED consultation.

The Council also submitted a response to the Government’s consultation on the implementation of the European Fuel Quality Directive.

Find out more about our work on biofuels.