Europe keeps burning more palm oil in its diesel cars and trucks

The use of palm oil for biodiesel has been increasing in the EU - 3.35 Million tonnes of it was used in 2015. Currently 46% of palm oil imported to the EU is used for biodiesel, requiring around 1 million hectares of tropical land. The three largest producers of palm oil biodiesel are Italy, Spain and the Netherlands, accounting for 80% of production.  Italy and Spain are also large users, while the Netherlands exports most of its palm biodiesel. The three countries consume 38% of what they produce, while the remaining 62% is used in the rest of the EU member states - thus making palm oil use a European issue.

Despite earlier promises of the European Commission to phase out food-based biofuels, a recently leaked draft proposal on renewable energy proposes to keep 3.8% of them in Europe’s transport fuel mix; only 1.1 percentage points down from the current 4.9% level.  The Commission needs to stick to its promise and propose to phase-out palm-oil and other vegetable biodiesel by 2025, and land-based ethanol by 2030. This gives enough time for the industry to recover investments made and transition to a production of the second generation biofuels.