STRASBOURG – The European Parliament rejected the opportunity to change the EU’s green fuels law which could have ended the use of food crops in biofuels. Oxfam and Transport & Environment have labelled the vote a missed opportunity to ease pressure on the global food crisis.
No majority could be found for either the Left’s proposal to end support for all crop biofuels, nor the Greens and Socialists & Democrats (S&D) proposals for reduction or specific restrictions on crop biofuels during times of food crises.
This means that the current rules on biofuels remain in place. Europe will continue to burn the equivalent of 15 million loaves of bread and 19 million bottles of sunflower and rapeseed oil every day to fuel its cars and trucks.
Food prices, already high, skyrocketed in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Record droughts across Europe and other parts of the world will only add to the crisis. This is pushing millions more people to the brink of starvation and many more into severe food poverty.
Maik Marahrens, Senior Campaigner at T&E, said: “The European Parliament missed a historic chance to stand up for the most vulnerable. If Europe alone were to release the grain it burns for biofuels to the global market, we could feed millions of people. Europe’s lawmakers failed to put right one of Europe’s most destructive climate policies.”
What else was voted on?
Soy/palm: There were some major positives. MEPs voted for soy and palm oil, which are major contributors to deforestation, to be phased out in 2023 in what is good news for biodiversity and local communities. This represents a significant win for NGOs, including T&E, who have campaigned for years to get deforestation driving biofuels out of the RED. However, without a reduction in the limit on food and feed crops, there is a high risk that soy and palm will be replaced by other food crops.
Transport fuels: The Parliament adopted a high target for renewable energy in transport, requiring a 16% reduction in the carbon footprint of EU fuels by 2030 – higher than the 13% target initially proposed by the Commission in 2021. There is a risk that this will increase the use of unsustainable biomass sources, such as intermediate crops for biofuels, warns T&E.
Hydrogen: The Parliament voted to eliminate the additionality principle by a very slim majority – the requirement that new hydrogen and e-fuels are met with additional renewables generation – for Renewable Fuels of Non-Biological Origins from the RED. This sends a bad signal to the European Commission, which is in the process of finalising its draft delegated act on additionality. T&E calls on the Commission to ensure that renewable hydrogen and e-fuels are produced with additional renewables to avoid making the energy grid dirtier in the short-term.
Geert Decock, Electricity & Energy Manager, said: “MEPs caved in to industry calls to weaken the sustainability criteria for green hydrogen and e-fuels. By adopting a quantity before quality approach, a slim majority of MEPs went against the letter and spirit of the Renewable Energy Directive. This is a bad day for anyone supporting the highest sustainability safeguards for the use of hydrogen and e-fuels to replace fossil fuels in planes and ships”.