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.
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 EU should fill its post-Brexit budget gap with new revenues from taxing transport, which is Europe’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, former Italian prime minister Enrico Letta, ex-WTO head Pascal Lamy, former finance minister of Germany Hans Eichel and 14 other economists have told EU leaders. In advocating a green tax shift, they called for a higher minimum tax on road diesel, VAT on airline tickets for the first time and taxing aviation kerosene which is currently exempt. Sustainable transport group Transport & Environment welcomed the letter, citing its own analysis that such a green tax shift would generate additional revenues of more than €50 billion a year which would allow for the income tax burden to be reduced.
The European Parliament voted today to limit the support to biofuels made from food crops to 2017 national consumption levels and never higher than 7% of all transport fuels. Parliament also voted to remove biodiesel made from palm oil, the highest emitting biofuel in the market today, from the list of biofuels that can count towards the renewables target in 2021. This means that drivers will no longer be forced to burn palm oil in their cars and trucks.
European energy ministers meeting in Brussels today agreed European drivers should be obliged to burn massive quantities of food crops in their fuel tanks until 2030. Anti-poverty organisation Oxfam and green group Transport & Environment (T&E) deplored this policy that would only benefit the biofuels industry and contribute to hunger and environmental damage.
The industry committee of the European Parliament voted today to reinstate a ‘renewable’ energy target for transport in 2030 . Such a target would continue subsidising the use of high-emitting, food-based biofuels, green group Transport & Environment (T&E) and development NGO Oxfam said. If passed in the plenary of the Parliament, it would increase emissions in transport, push up global food prices and negatively impact people around the world who live from the land.
The European Commission and EU member states look set to agree to almost entirely remove sustainability criteria for bio jet fuel at the UN’s aviation agency (ICAO) Council meeting today in Montreal. The countries gathered at the ICAO meeting will trash ten sustainability points out of 12, which will mean that highly unsustainable biofuels would qualify for the aviation’s global carbon offsetting scheme dubbed CORSIA.
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.
Today, 25 countries convened by the UN International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) rightly rejected the 2050 Vision on Sustainable Aviation Fuels that included volume-based targets as originally proposed by the ICAO Secretariat. Brad Schallert, Deputy Director at World Wildlife Fund and a spokesperson for the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation, a network of nonprofit organizations representing millions of members, released the following statement in response.
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.