The use of palm oil for biodiesel has been increasing in the EU - 3.35 Million tonnes of it was used in 2015. Currently 46% of palm oil imported to the EU is used for biodiesel, requiring around 1 million hectares of tropical land. The three largest producers of palm oil biodiesel are Italy, Spain and the Netherlands, accounting for 80% of production. Italy and Spain are also large users, while the Netherlands exports most of its palm biodiesel. The three countries consume 38% of what they produce, while the remaining 62% is used in the rest of the EU member states - thus making palm oil use a European issue.
Last July, the European Commission’s Strategy for Low Emission Mobility promised a ‘phaseout of food-based biofuels’. However, this promise of a phase-out is not visible in Annex X of a leaked draft proposal of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED). The leak points to the Commission’s intention to keep 3.8% of 1G biofuels in transport fuels in 2030. This is only 1.1 percentage point less than the 4.9% share of 1G biofuels in transport in 2014. In this briefing T&E analyses: how much would the Commission’s draft proposal increase EU transport greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the 2021-2030 period compared to a ‘proper’ phase-out of 1G biofuels?; how much underestimation of EU transport GHG emissions in the 2021-2030 period would the draft proposal lead to – as a result of the zero-counting of biofuels – compared to a ‘proper’ phase-out of 1G fuels?
European heads of state have agreed that in 2030, 27% of Europe’s energy should come from renewable sources. Not all renewables are sustainable though; for instance, food-based biofuels as well as burning whole trees imported from the US in EU power plants has come in for a lot of criticism.
The European Commission is currently working on a new Renewable Energy Directive (RED) and a new bioenergy sustainability policy for the period 2020-2030, which will have implications on the long-term pathway to decarbonise transport fuels. At the end of October, T&E, together with BirdLife Europe, ActionAid and Fern, wrote a letter to the European Commission to highlight their recommendations for a post 2020 sustainable low carbon transport fuels policy. We encourage the European Commission to phase-out food-based biofuels by 2030 and to prioritize a GHG-based target over a blending mandate for incentivizing truly low carbon advanced fuels and electricity.
This paper outlines the common views of 11 NGOs, including Transport & Environment, for a sustainable bioenergy policy for the EU's 2020-2030 renewable energy policy framework . To ensure bioenergy is genuinely sustainable, comprehensive safeguards need to be introduced which check that bioenergy is truly low carbon, resource efficient and avoids negative consequences on biodiversity, soil, water, land use and people.
This study, commissioned by Transport & Environment and undertaken by Cambridge Econometrics, shows that the EU’s dependence on crude oil and diesel imports has increased in the last 15 years (such that 88% of all crude oil is imported). In 2015 Europe spent in total around €215bn on crude oil and diesel imports.
Aviation is responsible for 5% of man-made climate change; the sector currently emits around 2.3% of annual global CO2 emissions. Without action this is expected to grow considerably.
This summer, the European Commission will present new targets for member states’ Effort Sharing Decision sectors for the period 2021 to 2030 and publish a communication on decarbonising transport. The ESD sets an overall EU climate target of -30% by 2030 below 2005 levels for sectors not included under the EU emissions trading system (non-ETS emissions) – mainly surface transport, buildings and agriculture. The ESD requires member states to limit their GHG emissions by meeting individual binding annual limits. This ‘recipe for Spain’ serves as a guideline on how to reduce emissions from transport and secure the climate target.
This summer, the European Commission will present new targets for member states’ Effort Sharing Decision sectors for the period 2021 to 2030 and publish a communication on decarbonising transport. Germany’s anticipated 2030 reduction target for all sectors covered by the ESD will be -39%. Thus, Germany will have to decrease its transport emissions to 97 MtCO2 eq by 2030. This ‘recipe for Germany’ serves as a guideline on how to reduce emissions from transport and secure the climate target.
This briefing details the feedstock used in biodiesel in Europe between 2010 and 2014. It is based on official industry data from Fediol obtained by T&E. The analysis shows that all of the 34% growth in EU biodiesel since 2010 comes from imported palm oil. The expansion of these plantations into natural rainforest is both having a devastating impact on biodiversity and causing net greenhouse gas emissions, to the effect that palm oil biodiesel is three times worse for the climate than fossil diesel.