Biofuels “Made in Europe” delivers concrete and tangible solutions to reduce emissions

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Speech at Euractiv Biofuel’s event 

In a few minutes, I will not develop all the science, arguments and figures on the positive impacts of EU sourced biofuels for the EU from both an economic, environmental and rural development point of view.

This has been done many times without changing the « accepted wisdom » of many in Brussels on biofuels, that is inspired by baseless claims or statements – it seems.

As Farm Europe, we contributed to this  debate with our report, which goes back to facts, analysing biofuels from a land, agriculture and food security perspective over the period 2005-2015.

And it’s clear! Today, in Europe, EU sourced biofuels are not competing with food. Food is competing with urbanisation and forests. In the specific case of biofuels, it’s not the issue of producing energy OR food, rather it’s producing both, food AND energy.

Sustainable biofuels (I) help limiting the crisis that is affecting the EU agriculture, (II) reduce EU dependence to imported feeds, and (III) have no negative impact on prices to consumers. In Europe, we have never produced more biofuels than today… food prices are far from being high… And this is truth as well at a global level as underlined several times by FAO and the World Bank.

There is clear evidence that EU sourced biofuels contribute to transport decarbonisation, more than halving carbon emissions, in comparisons with fossil fuels – and they represent a solution that is available today, with no possible doubts.

There is clear evidence as well, that these biofuels bring economic benefits for our economies, by reducing our trade deficit and generating jobs and growth, in particular within the farming sector, which is in great need for good news nowadays.

We should be very targeted in our approach at EU level, making a clear distinction between EU sourced biofuels, fossil fuels indeed, but also other biofuels from palm oil. Palm Oil Biofuels – even based on Use Cooking Oil, sometime imported – makes very poor sense for the EU from both an environmental and economic perspective. I do not talk about any sustainable use of palm oil in EU food industry – which is also a topic where we should avoid shortcuts. My purpose here focuses only on biofuels.

At the end of the day, the question is not analysing even more, finding the best way to present figures and arguments. It’s try to understand why we still have this negative perception and why such a proposal from the EC is today on the table, which would phase out to a large extend 1G biofuels, without any justification?

Personally, I think, from my past experience, that it mainly relies on the vision of our agriculture and food systems – or maybe the absence of a common strategic vision. Do we accept the words growth, profitability and competitiveness for our food systems and agriculture or do we promote a vision of decline? Do we want to grow forests all across the EU rather than crops, and limit agriculture to just providing our food, even without exporting? Do we want to use EU agriculture as a lever for a green economy or are there other economic priorities, for exemple secure de position of fossile fuels and encourage PalmOilBiofuels via UCO ?

If we are to opt for this second option, then we need to get ready for a steady increase of the CAP budget, and a complete abandonment of the market orientation of our agriculture. If not, we need to be serious and promote a real ambition of our agriculture and related industries based on green growth – and 1G biofuels are a key part of the development of these food systems.

In simple words, an alternative to fossil fuels that is available now.