EU parliament committee denies prospects for domestic biofuels

By UFOP | October 30, 2017

The Union for the Promotion of Oil and Protein Plants (UFOP) expressed its disappointment in the result of the vote in the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment in late October, concerning reforms in biofuel policy from 2020-’30 (RED II). As a result of the decision, biofuels made from cultivated biomass are to be completely phased out by 2030. At the same time indirect land use change (iLUC) factors are to be introduced for calculating the greenhouse gas balance as of 2021. There would be very serious consequences for European rapeseed cultivation. Biodiesel made from rapeseed oil could no longer be sold on the market as of 2021.

For years the introduction of iLUC factors for taking into account so-called indirect land use changes has been a highly controversial topic among the scientific community. In UFOP’s opinion, a reliable scientific basis as a prerequisite for a legal regulation does not currently exist. Taking into account the iLUC factors for vegetable oil biofuels—which have previously only been available for reporting—would have the result that legally required greenhouse gas savings of at least 60 percent are no longer possible to achieve. This would lead to the immediate end of today’s vegetable oil-based biofuels.

From UFOP’s perspective, iLUC factors address the problems surrounding palm oil and deforestation; however, they primarily concern European rapeseed cultivation. This is due to the fact that from the 11 million metric tons (3.3 billion gallons) of EU biodiesel, an average of 6.5 million tons was produced of European rapeseed oil. The decision of the environmental committee therefore specifically affects European rapeseed producers.

UFOP is also concerned that the committee in particular is clearly not aware that a narrowing of options for the future use of biomass is also being created in other areas of application with the introduction of iLUC factors in the biofuels sector. This use would therefore also be inhibited.

Similarly, it is incomprehensible to UFOP that the European Parliament is currently vehemently calling for a European strategy on proteins, while the environmental committee wants to withdraw the production of Europe’s most important domestic GMO-free protein source—rapeseed meal—and take away the basis of a livelihood with its recent vote.

UFOP now places high expectations on the members of the European Parliament’s Industrial Committee, which is responsible for this reform, to recognize the concerns and proposals of the economic chain involved, from agriculture through to biodiesel processing, and to take these into account in the final vote. This is because jobs and investments running into the billions are standing behind this processing chain.

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