A coalition of 21 NGOs urged Climate and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete to exclude soy- and palm oil-based biodiesel from the list of biofuels eligible to count toward renewable energy targets for transport.
In a landmark decision, the European Commission last night acknowledged in a delegated act that oil palm cultivation causes significant deforestation, and thus biodiesel produced from palm oil cannot be counted towards meeting EU green fuel targets. However, under mounting pressure, including trade war threats, from the governments of Malaysia and Indonesia, the Commission has introduced several loopholes, including an exemption for additional palm oil produced in independent small plantations (less than five hectares) or produced on ‘unused’ land.
The European Parliament today adopted a new law to phase out highest-emitting biofuels made from palm and soybean oil. The law states that these harmful biofuels cannot grow above each country’s 2019 consumption levels and should gradually decrease from 2023 onwards until reaching 0% in 2030. Whilst the principle of phasing out palm and soy biofuels is enshrined in the new law, the Commission has until 1 February 2019 to publish a delegated act establishing the science-based criteria to carry out the commitments made by the EU Parliament and governments.
The EU’s certification system for the sustainability of biofuels is ‘not fully reliable’, the European Court of Auditors (ECA), the independent EU body in charge of scrutinising Europe’s public spending, has said. In a report in July it found that the certification system ‘did not adequately cover some important aspects necessary to ensure the sustainability of biofuels’. The majority of ‘sustainable’ EU biofuels are certified through European Commission-recognised voluntary schemes.