LONDON The European Union's executive Commission will call for a 60 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions from transport by 2050, in a draft paper to be published in the summer, an EU official said on Wednesday.
The proposed transport targets are based on an existing EU goal to cut the bloc's greenhouse gas emissions by about 80 percent by the middle of the century.
"If we're going to achieve these targets, the transport system must cut its emissions by 60 percent below 1990 levels," said Kyriakos Maniatis, who is responsible for technical biofuel issues at the directorate general for energy at the European Commission.
"It's a draft ... but most probably they're going to come very close to (these figures)," he added, speaking at a biofuels conference in central London.
The emissions cuts include a roughly 40 percent cut from maritime fuels compared with 2005 levels.
In road transport, electric vehicles could supply some of the emissions cuts, but that would be impractical for heavy duty road freight given demands of range and energy demand.
For trucks, in particular, biofuels produced from sugars, oils or fibre would supply the alternative to conventional fossil fuels.
"Biofuels should more or less account for 40 percent of energy consumption for long distance road traffic," said Maniatis.
Aviation would depend on synthetic kerosene, produced from solid biomass using a process called Fischer-Tropsch, or else biodiesel made from vegetable oils.
In one possible complication for the targets, the EU's "sustainability criteria" are meant to limit the use of biofuels which have unwanted side effects, such as competing with food production, or else leading to the destruction of tropical forests where these are re-planted with energy crops.
Such criteria could prevent the use of certain feedstocks such as palm oil, said Maniatis.
"There's the problem that biodiesel and HVO (hydrogenated vegetable oils), at least for Europe, might face problems of availability because of (questions over) their sustainability."
In addition to the 2050 target, the EU wants to get a fifth of all its energy from renewable sources by 2020, including a 10 percent share of green energy in transport fuels, and to cut the carbon intensity of road fuels by 6 percent.
(Reporting by Gerard Wynn; editing by Keiron Henderson)