New EU biofuel rules not enough to help people or the planet

Europeans may still be forced to buy biofuels made from food crops until 2030, as a result of the deal struck by EU member states and the European Parliament this morning on the Renewable Energy Directive (RED II).  Oxfam warns that the directive, which allows member states to continue using such biofuels, could fuel climate change, food price spikes and land grabs.  

Oxfam’s EU Economic Justice Policy Lead, Marc-Olivier Herman, said:

“EU member states will still be allowed to burn massive amounts of food. Biofuels made from palm oil, rapeseed, and other food crops, are destroying forests, pushing people off their land, and could fuel the next spike in food prices. Biofuels made from food crops are not the answer to climate change, they are part of the problem. Sadly, EU rules for renewable energy in the transport sector remain on a road to nowhere.”

Notes to editors: 
  • The outcome of the three-way negotiations of the European Parliament, member states and the European Commission (trilogue) will govern the EU’s renewable energy policy for the next decade. The Renewable Energy Directive for the period 2021-2030 (REDII) introduces a binding target for “renewable energy in transport” of 14 percent with a maximum share of biofuels made from food crops of 7 percent and additional measures aimed at limiting the use of palm oil.
  • The text adopted today includes the following elements on biofuels:
    • A new binding target of 14 percent for renewable energy in transport by 2030 is introduced, accompanied by mandates imposed on fuel providers. The share of biofuels in transport in the EU was 4,2 percent in 2015.
    • Member States will be allowed to promote biofuels made from food or feed crops until 2030. They can count this towards their renewable energy targets, up to their 2020 consumption level with a maximum of 7% of their gross final energy consumption in road and rail transport. Member States that choose to limit their consumption of food-based biofuels below 7% can reduce their 14% transport accordingly. Member states that currently use food or feed crops in transport to a level below 2% will be allowed to increase their consumption to a maximum 2%.
    • The mandates also include a binding target of 3,5% of so-called ‘advanced’ biofuels made from certain feedstocks
  • 60% of the palm oil imported by the EU is now used to produce biofuel. The deal adopted today aims to reduce the share of palm oil used for biofuels. But those measures are likely to be ineffective as demand for palm oil for food, cosmetics and other products will continue to increase in order to substitute for other vegetable oils diverted to EU biodiesel production.
  • MEPs have been under intense pressure from the biofuel lobby and its allies. In 2015, European biofuel producers spent over EUR 3.7mn lobbying the EU. Oxfam’s report ‘Burning land, burning the climate – The biofuel industry’s capture of EU bioenergy policy’ sheds light on the trail of destruction left across the globe by the current EU biofuel policy. The report also documents the disproportionate influencing ‘fire power’ of the EU biofuel industry.
Contact information: 

Florian Oel | Brussels | florian.oel@oxfam.org | office +32 2 234 11 15 | mobile +32 473 56 22 60

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