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.
This is the sixth 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.
The EU’s current trade policy could undermine Europe’s goal of decarbonising transport by encouraging the consumption of unsustainable biofuels, a new report has found. With free trade talks between the EU and the Mercosur countries ongoing, there are serious concerns 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 says there is a need for coherence in EU trade and climate policies.