EU legislators called on to recognize advantages of biodiesel

By The European Biodiesel Board | January 27, 2015

On the occasion of a high-level policy conference in Brussels organized by the biodiesel supply chain, prominent researchers have underlined the benefits of biodiesel as well as their reservations regarding the readiness of the ILUC science for EU policymaking. The EBB, EOA and FEDIOL call on EU decision makers to safeguard existing investments from the introduction of ILUC methodology, be it for reporting or accounting.

The event “Biodiesel: Direct Advantages for Europe,” which took place in the European Parliament in January after the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety committee discussions on the ILUC file, brought together a wide spectrum of stakeholders. The co-host of the event, French centre-right MEP Delahaye, stated that “we need to fully grasp the consequences of a shift in the European biofuels policy, for farmers who saw new opportunities and prospects in the production of first-generation biofuels, but also for the industry who invested.” Her centre-left counterpart MEP Kumpula-Natri from Finland concluded that “With regards to setting up a real European bioeconomy, alleviating climate change and strengthening the EU’s energy security, and due to increasing demand of transport fuels, existing biofuel investments need to remain part of the answer. They are an important part of future sustainable transport solutions.” Opening the debate, Carlo Hamelinck (Ecofys) reminded that transport is responsible for 25 percent of all global GHG emissions and that biofuels are an important part of future sustainable transport solutions.

With emission savings 80 percent better than what is commonly thought according to Ecofys calculations, the curent EU legislation substantially underestimates biofuels’ climate benefits.

Mike Hambly (U.K. National Farmers Union) insisted on the fact that the European biofuels policy has enabled the EU to produce 30 percent of its protein needs domestically. Introducing ILUC methodology into EU policymaking would rule out domestically produced rapeseed and biodiesel, affecting a major source of farming revenue in lesser productive European regions and 10,00 rural jobs.

Alexandre Gohin (INRA) highlighted that land use changes cannot be directly observed and that choices on data and parameters in economic models have dramatic effects on ILUC assessments. For example, using OECD-FAO figures for crop yield responses in the fully transparent and public GTAP-BIO model leads to 80 percent lower ILUC figures for biodiesel, compared to those produced by the opaque IFPRI model used by the commission.

From an international perspective, Fred Ghatala (International Standards Organization) reminded that after reviewing 161 publications, ISO had a consensus that ILUC science is inconclusive and unable to assign causality to biofuels. ISO therefore decided not to include ILUC into standards until the science is more developed.

Bearing in mind these ILUC science uncertainties, Rafaelo Garofalo (EBB, on behalf of the biodiesel supply chain) called on EU legislators at the end of the conference, to safeguard jobs and investments by at the very least protecting the existing biofuel production from ILUC factors, be it for reporting or accounting. Considering the GHG savings of biodiesel produced from waste and residues and the difficulties that EU member states will face to fulfill their advanced biofuel objectives, such feedstocks should be counted towards this subtarget. Finally, he called for a renewed policy framework beyond 2020 for EU investments to materialize and to enable onto the market more sustainable biofuels, both conventional and advanced, with the corresponding benefits in terms of energy security, economic growth and climate change mitigation.


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