The Commission confirms a rescue operation for palm oil biofuels

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Despite the agreement reached on the Renewable Energy Directive last year and the concerns expressed on the draft submitted for consultation a month ago, the European Commission confirmed its intention to rescue palm oil in EU biofuels, in breach with the decision of the colegislators and with the will of the European citizen expressed strongly including via the #NotInMyTank website by almost 65.000 people.

The delegated act tabled today would allow large quantities of palm to be excluded from the freeze at 2019 level and phasing out from 2023 decided by the co-legislators that now have a very short period of time to object and request a new text, in line with the RED2 deal.

The text proposed by the Commission recognises that expansion of palm production is bad for the environment but, immediately after, offers a wide open door for the same palm to still be used in EU biofuels.

The low iLUC definition  does not take into account the overall objective of the regulation which is to cut the link between the EU framework for biofuels and global deforestation.

On the contrary, the text is a collection of loopholes, in particular an exemption for small plantations whose number is growing at a steady pace, and are controlled by big operators for palm crushing, certification and export even when independent. It is estimated that by 2030 small holders will manage 60% of the palm oil plantation area and will double their production capacity (1).

This means that under such a scenario proposed by the European Commission, in the coming years, EU imports of palm oil for biofuels would continue to expand. According to business estimates, small holders represent already now more than 6 million tonnes of palm oil, meaning more than twice the volume imported in Europe to produce biofuels.

Stefan Schreiber, President of Farm Europe’s Green Energy Platform said : « The European Commission decided, despite the consultation process, to circumvent the mandate given by the co-legislators in order not to disturb its trade conversation with Indonesia and Malaysia. This puts at risk the capacity of the EU to fully mobilise sustainable biofuels in order to decarbonise transport and achieve its climate objectives. This strategy undermines the credibility of the RED2 and should not be accepted by the European Parliament and Council ».