EU leaders are halting further decarbonisation of the transport sector

UFOP: Sustainability certification a thing of the past?

Berlin, 30/10/2014 – The Union zur Förderung von Oel- und Proteinpflanzen (UFOP) fears the phasing out of the decarbonisation strategy in the transport sector (the replacement of fossil fuels with biofuels), which has been followed until now, should there be no update to the initial targets for the reduction of green house gas emissions in the transport sector, which are binding for all member states. In view of the European Council's decisions, UFOP believes that the continuation of the biofuel strategy, the most important element of green house gas reduction to date, is under threat. The association is concerned that the decision casts doubt on the prospects for the biofuel industry after 2020.
With today's decision, EU Heads of State and Government have challenged the EU Commission to further develop instruments and measures for a technologically neutral concept to promote emissions reduction and energy efficiency in the transport sector from 2020. UFOP expresses concern that this measure does not recognise the existing success of biofuels. The association is worried that there will be a shift in priorities in the area of research and development, without contributing any tangible relief for climate protection in the period from 2020 to 2030. UFOP recalls the fact that biofuels, alongside the implementation of renewable energy guidelines, must meet specific green house gas reduction and sustainability requirements. For the business groups concerned in the European Union and in non-member states, these requirements impact on the generation of raw materials, as well as on transport and processing. For this purpose, the EU Commission has since authorised 17 certification systems. UFOP fears that, under the current status of the Council's decision, this sustainability certification is close to being eradicated.
There is a much greater need for a strategic focus based on the biofuels already introduced on the market which includes expanding the share of renewable energies from diverse biomass sources, as well as from other sources, in a way that is both gradual and open to technology. However, according to criticisms by UFOP, this concrete resolution is lacking. They claim the policy is based on too-high expectations of technical advancements. Policy should be gauged on the basis of past experience rather than future promise. The fact is that new technologies generally come with high prices, meaning acceptance problems across a wide consumer base are to be expected.
The authorisation granted by the member states to include the transport sector in the emissions trading scheme is likely to lead to fragmentation in the European approach to decarbonisation. In contrast to this, the current promotion of biofuels and other renewable energy sources provides a concrete and effective contribution to diversification based on renewable resources and the reduction of fossil fuels. The decision is however a warning signal for the business groups concerned to further explore the issue of technological developments and new investments for the development of new biomass resources.