The European commission is backing away from its insistence on imposing a compulsory 10% quota of biofuels in all petrol and diesel by 2020, a central plank of its programme to lead the world in combating climate change.
Amid a worsening global food crisis exacerbated, say experts and critics, by the race to divert food or feed crops into biomass for the manufacture of vehicle fuel, and inundated by a flood of expert advice criticising the shift to renewable fuel, the commission appears to be getting cold feet about its biofuels target.
Under the proposals, to be turned into law within a year, biofuels are to supply a tenth of all road vehicle fuel by 2020 as part of the drive to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by the same deadline.
The 10% target is "binding" under the proposed legislation. But pressed by its scientific advisers, UN authorities, leaders in Europe, non-government organisations and environmental lobbies, the commission is engaged in a rethink.
"The target is now secondary," said a commission official, adding that high standards of "sustainability" being drafted for biofuels sourcing and manufacture would make it impossible for the target to be met.
As ever, having the bureaucrats trying to pick a technological winner was a disaster.