Agricultural Council approves iLUC Directive

UFOP emphasises a need for change to the GHG calculation method

Berlin, 22th July 2015 – On Monday last week the Agriculture Council approved the directive already adopted by the European Parliament on 28th April 2015 to amend the Renewable Energy and Fuel Quality Directive. With this, the so-called "ilUC Directive" can be published in the EU Official Journal. Member states must implement the directive in 2017.

In its announcement, the Council emphasised that this change to the directive is orientated towards biofuels made from recyclable materials with substantially improved greenhouse gas reduction effects. In a memo, Great Britain and the Netherlands reiterated their regret that the most sustainable and advanced biofuels cannot be included in the EU greenhouse gas reduction goal of 20 percent through the double-counting mechanism.

The Union for the Promotion of Oil and Protein Plants e.V. (UFOP) sees that the path is now clear for national implementation of the "iLUC Directive" by 2017. However, the union regrets that the fundamental pioneering role of conventional biofuels is being overlooked. Following this, as part of the bioeconomy strategy, previously only conventional biofuels would have to demonstrate a greenhouse gas reduction requirement increasing to at least 50 percent from 2017 as a condition of access to EU markets. Germany is to be the only EU member state to take the introduction of the obligation to reduce greenhouse gases a step further. In reference to the GHG results recently presented by the Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (BLE), UFOP highlights that, in Germany, the optimisation of GHG reduction is used as a competitive argument. Even the so-called advanced biofuels would have to be measured with these results. The Union points out that this evidence is still pending in view of the continuing lack of large-scale plants. 

UFOP makes reference to the inspection orders concluded with the iLUC Directive for the GHG balance calculation method. The Union welcomes the fact that the commission must also take into account the protein animal feed constituent generated by biofuel production, amongst other things. At the same time the Union points out that there is also a fundamental need for change to the GHG calculation for advanced biofuels made from recyclable materials, such a straw. Through double counting, recyclable materials are turned into valuable materials. For this reason, all expenditure, such as fertilisation, must be apportioned according to quantity. It is not appropriate that straw intended for this manufacturing purpose enters the GHG balance sheet with the GHG value "0". Here UFOP refers to the international regulations for ecological assessment.

UFOP therefore welcomes the compromise, now formally concluded by the Council, of a non-mandatory goal of 0.5 percent for biofuels made from recyclable materials, as well as the necessary research funding for the development of technologies as a precondition for market development from 2020. UFOP underlines its position that biofuel policy must be developed after 2020 by way of competition that is open in terms of technologies and also raw materials. In line with this, the GHG reduction obligation saw the launch in Germany of the GHG and technology competition, which, following UFOP's expectations, will certainly be pursued intensively by other member states.