Press Release

Fit for 55 ‘fails’ to right wrongs of EU’s disastrous biofuels policy

July 14, 2021

The European Commission has backed down on a proposal to shift its ‘green fuels’ law towards non-liquid alternatives like electricity as part of its Fit for 55 package. This is despite 10 years of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) leading to widespread deforestation, habitat loss and biodiesel emissions greater than the fossil diesel it replaced, as the growth in “green” fuels was met mostly through crop biofuels like palm oil.

Laura Buffet, energy director at T&E, said: “The EU is failing to right the wrongs of a disastrous green fuels policy caused by heavy reliance on crop biofuels. This mistake is compounded by the decision not to bring forward the end date for support to palm oil biofuels, as some member states have done.”

The Commission now allows fuel suppliers to count renewable electricity to meet their targets, either by buying electricity credits or by expanding their own networks of charging stations. But it removed the extra weighting electricity was given towards meeting the targets, which reflected its higher efficiency compared to biofuels.

Laura Buffet: “We welcome the introduction of a system that rewards fuel suppliers for using renewable electricity as a transport fuel, and not only blending biofuels. This change reflects the growing electrification of transport and will help move the EU’s green fuels law away from the exclusive reliance on biofuels. But the EU must ensure it strengthens this system while ending support to crop biofuels.”

The new RED also increases the target for advanced biofuels from wastes and residues. T&E has raised concerns over the high target which could leave oil companies scouring the planet for scarce wastes and residues like palm residues or crude tall oil (from wood pulp). It could lead to market distortions and potential fraud.

High targets for hydrogen and e-fuels which go beyond the demand from aviation and shipping in 2030 also risk promoting hydrogen and e-fuels for road transport where they are far less efficient than electricity. Without a clear framework on how ‘green’ hydrogen and e-fuels will be defined, there is a heightened risk that they could be developed using fossil fuels.

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