Brussels, November 29, 2016
Today, Farm Europe presented its report on biofuels in the context of the debates on the “Low-Emission Mobility Strategy” and the upcoming Renewable Energy Directive (RED II).
The report analyses the impact of the development of biofuels in the European Union over the period 2005-2015 on agricultural land, food security and sustainability. It highlights the need for EU decision-makers to promote a fact-based strategic approach when it comes to biofuels and provides evidence on the capacity of EU biofuels to be a lever for both environmental sustainability and economic development in rural areas without any detrimental effects.
Palm Oil and UCO should be excluded
The report shows the need for a clear distinction between first generation EU-sourced biofuels – meaning biofuels made from oilseeds, cereals and sugar beets grown within the European Union – and biofuels made from imported palm oil and “waste oils” or imports from territories with unverifiable sustainability or displacement effects.
If, on one side, biofuels made from imported palm oil have highly damaging impacts on the climate and environment (including new demand for palm driving peatland drainage and deforestation), on the other side, EU-sourced biofuels have clearly positive climate, environmental and economic impacts, and are shown to have no adverse displacement effects. This distinction between the displacement effects – or indirect land use change effects – of the differing types of biofuels needs to be properly applied to both conventional and advanced biofuels in order to build a coherent and ambitious EU policy framework.
All EU-sourced biofuels should be encouraged
During the last 10 years, EU-sourced biofuels have had positive impacts on food security, on the EU agri-food systems and on the climate. Beyond the positive impact on transport decarbonisation (more than 50% Green House Gas savings), in directly assessing land use, displacement and food production trends within the European Union – and without building complex and uncertain models – the report shows that the development of EU-sourced biofuels:
- did not reduce the EU contribution to global food security. On the contrary, over the period, the EU increased by 10 million tonnes its capacity to export cereals ;
- allowed the European Union to reduce its level of dependency on imported protein soya feed – which is still a source of concern (20 million tonnes per year). Biofuels and feeds production in the EU are part of a single highly resource efficient value chain. Some 13 million tonnes of feeds “Made in Europe” depend on the production of 20 billion litres of biofuels (both biodiesel and bioethanol) – and the other way round. The capacity to produce feeds in the EU reduces EU demands for imports, notably from countries where tropical deforestation is a major concerns, and therefore should be taken as an ILUC credit ;
- had a positive contribution to EU agricultural land evolution, limiting the losses, thus, contributing to achieving a major objective of the European Union included in the Common Agricultural Policy (to maintain land in good agricultural status in order to maintain the potential of EU agricultural land). Despite the 360% growth of biofuels during the period assessed, the EU experienced a decrease of 6% of EU agricultural land and 4% of arable crop areas. Without the increase in demand via biofuels, it is clear that the restructuration process on going within the EU farming sector would have been exacerbated ;
- generated demand for farm output of 30 million tonnes per year, secure farm income of 5-7 billion euros, tens of billions of biorefinery investments in rural regions and 300.000 jobs.
Farm Europe’s report, by stressing the paramount importance of basing any biofuels policy decision on science and objectivity, shows that the EU policy framework should:
- recognise the positive outcomes of conventional biofuels based on EU-sourced feedstocks ;
- increase policy support for developing the EU contribution to global food security while reducing global emissions, using EU first generation biofuels as a lever ;
- promote efforts in favour of 2nd generation biofuels in parallel and not against the conventional ones ;^
- address effectively palm oil biofuels and imported UCO (waste oil) biofuels with coherent political actions.
On this basis, a sustainable development of EU-sourced conventional biofuels is an opportunity for both transport decarbonisation and the resilience of the EU agri-food sector.
Download the report here:
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