Press Release

Commission favours unproven biofuels over clean electricity for transport

November 30, 2016

Backtracking on its commitment to promote the electrification of transport and a phaseout of food-based biofuels, the European Commission today proposed to keep supporting planet-wrecking biofuels until 2030 and not stimulate the uptake of clean electricity in transport. Moreover, the Commission is setting a target for advanced fuels 15 years in advance, without appropriate sustainability criteria, as if it hasn’t learned a lesson from mistakes with first generation biofuels.


Jelena Simjanovic, clean energy director of Transport & Environment (T&E), said: “Despite all its promises four months ago about electrifying transport and stopping bad biofuels, this proposal means our cars and trucks will be burning almost as much palm oil and other food-based biodiesel in 2030 as they do today. The Commission again rushes into a huge market for new and unproven biofuels, but it does nothing to reward suppliers of clean electricity in transport. The inconvenient truth is that this proposal will not reduce Europe’s transport emissions to any meaningful extent.”

The proposed Renewable Energy Directive says member states can still count a 3.8% share of food-based biofuels towards their renewable energy targets for 2030, barely down from the 4.9% market share they had in 2014. This will increase greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from European transport over the period 2021-2030 by an amount equivalent to the emissions from the Netherlands in 2014. These are extra emissions from using these biofuels instead of regular diesel and petrol.

On average, biodiesel from virgin vegetable oil leads to around 80% higher emissions than the fossil diesel it replaces. Biodiesel made from virgin vegetable oil is the most popular and cheapest biofuel in the European market with a market share of three-quarters in 2014. Of all biodiesel, palm oil has the highest GHG emissions – 303% of the emissions of fossil diesel, because palm expansion drives deforestation and peatland drainage in Southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa. Last year, 46% of all the palm oil used in Europe ended up in the tanks of cars and trucks. This makes drivers the leading (albeit unaware) consumers of palm oil in Europe.

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