EU biofuels policy – UFOP in favour of maintaining 7% cap

Berlin, 2th December 2016 – “The 7% cap for biofuels made from cultivated biomass, first established in 2015, must be maintained beyond 2020.” With this position, the Union for the Promotion of Oil and Protein Plants (UFOP) rejects the proposal made today by the EU Commission to reform the biofuels policy for the period between 2020 and 2030. At the same time, the union calls for this cap to be limited to biofuels raw materials that make a significant contribution to the reduction of protein feed imports, which are usually genetically modified.

With the extension of the definition of cultivated biomass to include an added benefit, the EU commission must now finally face up to the criticism that biofuels made from palm oil cannot be accepted. In spring 2016, policy-makers again stood back and watched as Indonesia’s rainforests burned.

UFOP points out that European rapeseed cultivation, and the associated increased variation in crop rotation with the most important honey plants for bee-keeping, are dependent on the biodiesel sales market. While rapeseed meal, as a GM-free protein feed and the most important element of the national and European protein crop strategy, could be put on the market without a problem, structural surpluses in the vegetable oil markets are stabilising. Not only Argentina, Indonesia and Malaysia, but also the USA have recently increased their biofuel admixture requirements.

The proposal by the EU Commission plans for a gradual reduction in the proportion of biofuels from cultivated biomass from 7 % to 3.8 percent by 2030. UFOP points out that the existing cap of 7 % was merely a pragmatic compromise intended to protect investments for existing biofuel plants and to continue the qualitative development of certification systems. In addition, the current law gives Member States the power to set a lower cap nationally. From UFOP’s perspective, there is no reason to keep Member States from fulfilling their responsibilities.

On the contrary: instead of a cap, the EU Commission should campaign for the EU-wide introduction of the obligation to reduce greenhouse gases following the German example. Germany has shown that better climate protection can be achieved with less biomass as a result of the competition for efficiency triggered by this requirement. Biofuels introduced onto the market are already making a significant contribution to greenhouse gas reduction. The Commission's proposal would result in more greenhouse gases needing to be saved in a shorter time in order to meet the Paris climate protection goal. UFOP emphasises that this is irresponsible.

UFOP stresses that, as a result of the Paris Agreement and the Climate Action Plan 2050 in Germany, the course is set for pushing ahead with the market introduction of advanced biofuels as well as the electrification of transport as part of an evolutionary strategy that is open to different technologies and raw materials. Here too, it is up to Member States to adjust their respective national framework conditions so that the success of this project can ultimately be measured by the proportion of fossil fuels, and therefore also the proportion of biofuels on the market, starting to reduce as soon as possible.

UFOP criticises the campaigns against cultivated biofuels, which were initiated by environmental organisations in the run-up to the EU Commission's proposal, on the grounds that they have lost sight of what is really important. The aim of all endeavours must be to advance the decarbonisation of various economic sectors, or, in other words, the replacement of finite fossil fuels with renewable energies. First generation biofuels are, and will remain, the most important means of achieving this aim.