E.U. looks to remove palm oil from biofuels

E.U. biofuels groups praised a vote by the European Parliament on Jan. 17 to phase out the use of palm oil in biofuels and allow some crop-based fuels.

Still, more needs to be done, said ePURE leaders, the European renewable ethanol association.

“Europeans deserve a climate policy that lives up to the promises made by politicians,” said Emmanuel Desplechin, secretary general of the group. “The Parliament has sent a message that not all biofuels are created equal by focusing on getting rid of those that drive deforestation like palm oil. But its amendments still risk making it harder for E.U. member states to realistically boost renewables in transport.”

As part of the draft measures approved by European lawmakers, renewable energy would account for at least 35% of the E.U.’s overall energy use by 2030.

Along with banning palm oil from motor fuels by 2021, the proposed measures promote research in advanced technologies.

Biofuels made from other food and feed crops could not exceed 7% of all transport fuel under the proposal.

The E.U. needs a renewable energy policy that looks beyond labels like “conventional” or “advanced” and instead to the real sustainability credentials of biofuels, ePURE said. European renewable ethanol — produced from European crops, delivers 66% average greenhouse gas reductions over fossil petrol with no adverse effects.

“As the main E.U. institutions begin negotiations on renewables policy for the post-2020 period, the E.U. must remain committed to a meaningful binding target for renewables in transport — one that does not rely on artificial multipliers to create the illusion of better performance and make it easier for countries to meet their targets,” Desplechin said. “It should also keep in place the maximum contribution of crop-based biofuels at 7% — essential for safeguarding current and future investments. And it needs a strong commitment to ramping up advanced biofuels.”

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