More than half of the palm oil imported into the EU is used to make biodiesel for cars and trucks. Palm oil used for biodiesel has increased sharply over the last years while food consumption of palm oil is declining.
Hundreds of Indonesian leaders of indigenous communities, farmers’ unions, smallholder organizations, human rights groups and environmental NGOs have signed an open letter to the EU Presidency, Europe’s Heads of State and the President of the Republic of Indonesia against the use of palm oil in biofuels.
The environment committee of the European Parliament voted today to phase out the support for biodiesel from vegetable oils in 2030 and terminate the use of palm oil biodiesel as early as 2021. However, MEPs decided to exempt some food-based biofuels such as bioethanol and crops grown on marginal land from this phase out. They also voted to increase the overall target for advanced fuels to 9% of fuels supplied in 2030. Transport & Environment (T&E) welcomes the decision to stop food-based biodiesel but warns that the proposed blending mandate for advanced biofuels is too high to be sustainable.
Several environmental groups today handed over a citizens’ petition to the United Nations’ aviation body, ICAO, urging the agency to scrap its plan for the vast use of biofuels in planes. The petition, signed by 172,000 citizens across the globe and coordinated by the conservation group Rainforest Rescue, states that using biofuels on a large scale will inevitably accelerate palm oil expansion, triggering massive deforestation and a surge on greenhouse gas emissions. The International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) will discuss the biofuels plan today at its Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels in Mexico City.
Despite industry’s desperate efforts to deny the impact of biofuels on food prices, a new study shows there is wide scientific consensus that biofuels policies increase global food prices. The analysis, conducted by consultancy Cerulogy for BirdLife Europe & Central Asia and Transport & Environment, reviews over 100 economic modelling studies of the impact on food prices because of increased demand for biofuels made from food crops.
Policies to promote food based biofuels do lead to increases in food prices, an extensive independent literature review has concluded. The analysis considered over one hundred economic modelling studies of the potential impact on prices of increased biofuel demand and over two dozen assessments of the role biofuels demand played in the 2006-08 food price crisis.
This is the seventh in a series of eight snippets about how to decarbonise land freight by 2050. Based on a new T&E study, the series will culminate in a public debate in Brussels on 27 September.
Despite all the glaring evidence proving that palm-oil biodiesel is three times more polluting than fossil diesel, European transport still keeps burning more and more palm oil to power its diesel cars and trucks. 2015 data from OILWORLD, industry's reference for vegetable oils market analysis, shows a 3% increase in the use of palm oil for biodiesel. European biodiesel is now the main end product of imported palm oil, reaching an all-time-high share of 46%. This makes drivers the leading (albeit unaware) consumers of palm oil in Europe.
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 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.