European countries will no longer be forced to subsidise food-based biofuels to meet the EU’s future green energy targets, under an agreement reached early this morning by EU governments, the European Parliament and the Commission. For those EU countries that decide to mandate food-based biofuels after 2020, the deal limits their contribution to the levels achieved nationally in 2020.
The use of palm oil for EU biofuels dwarfs the amount used to make cookies, hazelnut spreads, ice cream, shampoo, lipsticks – and other food and cosmetic products. That’s according to new industry data which shows diesel cars and trucks burned 51% of all the palm oil used in Europe in 2017.
Spending 60% of the EU’s key infrastructure fund on contributing to climate objectives – as proposed by the European Commission today – will ensure smarter and cleaner spending, green NGO Transport & Environment (T&E) has said. The Connecting Europe Facility would have €42.3 billion to co-finance investments including €30 billion for transport, as part of the draft 2021-2027 EU budget just published.
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 European Commission today proposed the EU’s first-ever fuel economy standards for new trucks. The 2025 target of 15% will save truck owners €5,000 in reduced fuel bills every year, strengthen European truckmakers’ competitiveness and cut millions of tonnes of climate-changing emissions. Sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E) welcomes the proposal but cautions that the Commission’s plan falls short of the ambition demanded by hauliers and businesses and what’s needed to hit the EU’s own climate goals.
European Commissioners are coming under unprecedented pressure to set ambitious truck CO2 emissions standards after a rare alliance of global brands, transport companies and hauliers associations last month demanded that CO2 cuts of 24% by 2025 be targeted. In a letter to Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, Carrefour, IKEA, Unilever, Heineken, Nestlé, logistics giant Geodis, national transport associations and other big players said the target was necessary if the EU was to remain the leader in the fight against climate change.
The biggest failure of the current car CO2 has been the failure to deliver emissions reductions on the road. Whilst new car CO2 emissions measured using the obsolete laboratory test (NEDC) have fallen by 31% since 2000, on the road the reduction is just, 11%. The gap between test and real-world performance has leapt from 9 to 42% weakening the regulation, increasing CO2 emissions and raising fuel bills for drivers. The underlying issue was basing the regulation on laboratory tests. Whilst the new WLTP addresses some loopholes, its introduction also creates new flexibilities that the car industry are planning to exploit to undermine both the current regulation to 2020/1 and proposed future regulations for 2025/30.
As diesel sales slump and those of electric vehicles pass one million, batteries are fast becoming a major part of the EU’s industrial future. It is not just talk this time. Investment is happening: LG Chem is planning for production in Poland and Samsung SDI is doing likewise in Hungary; NorthVolt has just signed a large loan to build a demo plant in Sweden, and Saft, a subsidiary of Total, announced a battery consortium with Siemens, Solvay and MAN. Amidst all this, the environmental benefits of electric cars are under intense scrutiny with news articles on this a regular feature in most EU countries. So, do electric cars reduce car CO2 emissions or do they just shift the problem elsewhere?
Earlier this year, the European Parliament voted on the renewable energy directive (RED). While the outcome was not ideal, we welcomed Parliament’s vote because it caps food-based biofuels, redirects investments into the fuels of the future (electricity, advanced biofuels) and ends support for palm oil biodiesel.