Industry MEPs vote to keep subsidising food-based biofuels until 2030

The industry committee of the European Parliament voted today to reinstate a ‘renewable’ energy target for transport in 2030 [1]. 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 Commission proposal for the recast of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) excluded a target for renewables in transport and focused instead on a target for advanced fuels.

Laura Buffet, clean fuels manager at T&E, said: “If history is any indication, Europe should stop subsidising food-based biofuels. The science has proven time and again that most food-based biofuels in Europe increase emissions and drive deforestation. We urge the full European Parliament to support the phase out of food-based biofuels in 2030 and reject any new crop biofuels target in transport.”

Marc-Olivier Herman, EU economic justice policy lead at Oxfam International, said: “The obligation to use biofuels in transport has left a trail of destruction around the planet. People have been deprived of their right to land and are subject to abuse by companies operating in the supply chain of European biofuel producers. Today’s proposal from the Parliament’s industry committee means even more food for fuel and more devastation in many countries around the world, from Indonesia to Peru. Members of the European Parliament must stop this madness at the plenary vote in January.”

The industry committee also voted in favour of a 10% blending mandate for advanced fuels, including advanced biofuels and renewable electricity. The proposal lacks an adequate sustainability framework. This means this target is too high to be sustainable.

MEPs supported widening the definition of advanced biofuels to anything that is not produced from food or feed crops. Under such a definition, unsustainable feedstocks, including co-products of the palm oil industry would qualify as advanced biofuels. In principle, the raw materials for advanced biofuels should be limited to waste and residues, which comply with the waste hierarchy, cascading use and strong sustainability criteria.

T&E’s analysis, based on the results of the Globiom study for the European Commission, shows that on average EU food-based biodiesel produces 80% more CO2 emissions than the fossil diesel it replaces. Biodiesel made from soy is two times worse for the climate than fossil diesel. European rapeseed biodiesel, produces 20% more emissions than diesel, when land-use change emissions (ILUC) are accounted for. Four out of five litres of biofuel consumed in Europe is biodiesel. [2]

The EU policy push for crop-based biodiesel has led to the creation of a growing market for vegetable oils. Between 2005 and 2015, total vegetable oil consumption in the EU decreased in the food sector (from 15.1 to 13.7 million tonnes), whereas it almost quadrupled in the bioenergy sector (going from 2.9 to 10.5 million tonnes). [2] More than half (53%) of feedstocks (vegetable oils mainly from rapeseed, palm and soy) used to produce crop biodiesel in EU installations in 2015 was imported. [3]

The European Parliament is currently reviewing a Commission proposal to recast the Renewable Energy Directive. The European Parliament in plenary will vote on this file in the week of 15 January 2018.

Footnotes: 

[1] The industry committee voted in favour of a 12% target for renewable energy in transport by 2030. The current 2020 target for ‘renewables’ in transport is set at 10%. The share of biofuels in transport was 4,2% in 2015.

[2] 2017 EU Energy Statistical Pocketbook.

[3] European Commission DG AGRI Medium-Term Agricultural Outlook.


Contact the press team

Nico Muzi
Communications Director
+32 (0)484 27 87 91 
nico.muzi@transportenvironment.org

Share