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.
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.
The European Commission’s leaked draft proposal to continue supporting land-based biofuels until 2030 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.
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?
This is the final in a blog series on how to decarbonise land freight by 2050. All the blogs are based on our report Roadmap to climate-friendly land freight and buses in Europe, leading up to a public debate, Zero emissions land freight, taking place in Brussels on 27 September.
The debate about transport fuels decarbonisation is a key issue in the ongoing recast of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED II). The EU has a unique opportunity to design a framework that will drive the most sustainable alternative fuels in transport for the period 2020-2030 and beyond.
The EU should have sustainability criteria when considering anti-dumping duties for imports of biodiesel, such as those from Argentina, so that biofuels that emit more carbon than fossil fuels are kept out, sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E) has said. Today European governments decided to significantly lower the duties (to between 4.5 and 8.1%) on Argentine biodiesel following a ruling by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) striking them down. T&E said the EU must show coherence in its trade and climate policies.
While fuel and ticket taxes, an effective emissions trading system, aircraft standards and other policies (discussed in our decarbonisation of aviation briefing) are essential to lower aviation emissions, sustainable, advanced low-carbon fuels will likely have to contribute too. This paper outlines how supply of sustainable fuels could be encouraged through the Renewable Energy Directive (REDII) in the period 2020-30.
Crop-based biofuels were seen as a way to reduce the EU’s dependence on fossil fuels and decarbonise the transport sector. But emerging evidence about negative environmental and climate impacts of these biofuels has led to the European Commission proposing to gradually phase-out the policy support in the EU. Industry stakeholders argue that this would adversely affect past investments and put jobs at risk.
A free trade agreement between the EU and the Mercosur countries – talks over which resumed this week – could undermine Europe’s goal to stop consuming unsustainable biofuels in transport. A new report by Transport & Environment (T&E) published today shows that the removal of trade barriers in energy and raw materials could lead to an increase in imports of unsustainable biodiesel from Argentina, if sustainability safeguards are not put in place. The report highlights the need for coherence in EU trade and climate policies.