The Renewable Energy Directive and Associated Sustainability Criteria – Sweden in a European and Global context

Project: Research


Global demand for transportation biofuels has increased significantly in recent years. This has commonly been stimulated by policy interventions seeking increased proportions of renewable energy in transport and improved national energy security of supply. While interventions have been effective in increasing biofuels use, a number of serious questions regarding the sustainability of the fuel supply chains meeting the new demand have been raised. These have been posed in terms environmental, economic and social terms. In Europe, new criteria have been imposed on biofuels in order for them to qualify for government support or count towards mandatory national renewable energy targets set up in the Renewable Energy Directive. Biofuels used in the EU, whether locally produced or imported, have to comply with sustainability criteria. These criteria aim at preventing the conversion of areas of high biodiversity and high carbon stock for the production of raw materials for biofuels. Sweden was one of the first countries to transpose the Renewable Energy Directive’s sustainability criteria into national law and is now taking stock of the impacts. The implementations of sustainability criteria are complex and new issues have emerged in the transposition and the reporting phase, and beyond.

One year after the first reporting of sustainability criteria for biofuels and liquid biofuels, we see a great need for a more in-depth analysis of the implications of the new sustainability requirements on biofuel production chains. Key questions for examination include: What can we learn from EU’s influential directive for control of European energy in the transport sector and the associated sustainability criteria? How can we better develop and adapt the sustainability criteria for Swedish conditions – and better integrate the relevant requirements in the other producing countries – particularly in the global South? Are we really contributing to sustainability in the biofuel sector and what kind of sustainability in that case?

To reach the objectives set for this application a broad and interdisciplinary approach is taken, combining applied and critical research methods.
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