The European Union relies on foreign companies to supply 80% of its oil imports, according to a new study on the continent’s oil dependency. Russian firms supply more than one-third (36%) of imported crude, and just two of the top 10 oil suppliers to the EU are European – Shell and Norway’s Statoil.
Food-based biofuels can still be counted towards the EU’s renewable energy target, the European Commission has proposed – in a stunning U-turn on its commitment to phase-out first-generation biofuels that are worse for the climate than fossil fuels. Member states will be able to use a maximum 3.8% share of food-based biofuels in transport towards the Renewable Energy Directive’s target for 2030, barely reduced from the current 4.9% market share at EU level.
By Jelena Simjanovic, clean energy directorWHAT I LEARNED IN 2016: I joined T&E in late summer, soon after the European Commission published its Low-emission Mobility Strategy. Its goals looked promising: increasing efficiency of the transport system; speeding up the development of low-emission alternative energy for transport; and moving towards zero-emission vehicles. While I had a general idea about biofuels and sustainability issues around them, I entered the transport world after 10 years of working on a variety of energy sector issues and carbon markets. I feel privileged to have a job where I can learn as much as I have learned in the past five months, while at the same time utilising my extensive knowledge of the electricity and energy markets for the discussion on transport electrification and development.
When oil prices were rising fast, some 10 years ago, the idea of ‘peak oil’ re-emerged – the (false) idea that the world’s oil supplies were about to run out. Several recent publications now hint at an entirely different kind of ‘peak oil’ – one caused by shortfall in demand, not supply.
Some of the world’s most valuable forests are still being destroyed in order to make palm oil, of which a considerable portion ends up as biodiesel for use on Europe’s roads. That is the striking message from an investigation by a global alliance of NGOs, including T&E, that has uncovered horrific deforestation in Indonesia’s pristine rainforest in the remote province of Papua. T&E says this highlights the urgent need for the EU to correct the anomalies in European legislation that allow climate-harming biofuels to count towards climate targets.
National emissions-reduction targets proposed for the transport, agriculture and buildings sectors include loopholes that would put their delivery at serious risk, environmental groups have warned. The regulation proposed by the European Commission will determine how member states share the burden of meeting the EU’s climate goals by 2030.
Fears that Europe’s transport is still lagging behind other industrial sectors in tackling climate change have been confirmed by the latest data from the European Environment Agency (EEA). Its data show greenhouse gases from transport have grown for the first time since 2007. T&E says the figures are worse than the EEA says, and calls on the EU to take ‘ambitious’ action.
The use of palm oil for biodiesel in Europe spiked to an all-time high in 2014. Forty-five percent of all the palm oil used in Europe powered cars and trucks, data obtained by green group Transport & Environment (T&E) revealed. The figures came from EU vegetable oil industry association Fediol, which confirmed the data after T&E’s publication. This is the first time that the sources of biodiesel in Europe have been made public.