One of the key areas of debate in the REDII proposal is whether to introduce a national transport target in addition to one for advanced fuels. This briefing shows that the effect of a national transport target is to continue the support for food-based biofuels through the backdoor, going against their phase-out. This will also water down the greenhouse gas savings provided by the advanced fuels. Depending on the target levels and electricity multipliers, the contribution of food-based biofuels could grow, leading to further agricultural land expansion and direct and indirect land use change (ILUC).
The European Parliament could be on course to end state support for biodiesel from vegetable oils in 2030 after a vote in its environment committee. MEPs strongly backed the phase-out of food-based biofuels by 2030 as well as the termination of the use of palm oil biodiesel in the Renewable Energy Directive, as early as 2021.
Rainforests are cleared and burned, people are pushed off their land and endangered species such as the orangutans are dying to allow an expansion in production of palm oil and other food-based biofuels to power our cars.
The negotiations of the new Renewable Energy Directive for 2020-2030 have re-launched the debate on renewable energy in transport, notably on food-based biofuels. The impacts of the EU biofuels policy on climate and environment are poorly informed and understood. This briefing provides a reality check on 10 things that decision makers and citizens do not know about biofuels:1. Four in every five litres of biofuel in the EU is biodiesel2. Around half of EU production of crop biodiesel is based on imports of feedstock, not crops grown by EU farmers3. A third of EU crop biodiesel is made from palm oil, making drivers the top consumers of palm oil in Europe4. EU biodiesel production growth since 2009 has been based on imports and waste oils5. Of all EU rapeseed oil, 60% is consumed in the biodiesel sector6. Palm biodiesel is three times worse for the climate than fossil diesel7. Phasing out palm oil alone is not going to fix the biofuels policy8. The co-production of animal feed cannot justify the support for crop biofuels9. There is an acute lack of transparency about the biofuels used in the EU with data either unavailable or very hard to access10. Most drivers don’t know and are not told they are filling up their car tanks with vegetable oils and other food crops
An analysis of the European Commission’s agriculture data shows that 53% of feedstocks (vegetable oils mainly from rapeseed, palm and soya) used to produce crop biodiesel in EU installations in 2015 was imported, not grown in Europe as the biofuels industry would like people to think. The Transport & Environment (T&E) analysis (Link to Briefing:) also shows that the ethanol industry is a minor player in the EU biofuels market today as four out of every five litres of biofuel consumed in Europe is biodiesel, according to the 2017 EU Energy Statistical Pocketbook.
Europe’s biofuels policies do increase global food prices. That’s the wide scientific consensus, according to a review of more than 100 economic modelling studies of the impact on food prices from increased demand for biofuels made from food crops. Increased demand for biodiesel has driven the price of vegetable oils in the EU, such as rapeseed, palm oil, soy and sunflower, up 171% per exajoule (EJ) of biodiesel produced, according to the analysis by consultancy Cerulogy for BirdLife Europe and T&E.
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.