EU renewable and agriculture associations: taxpayers' money is used to fund campaigns against the use of sustainable fuel
8 March 2023. Associations representing the EU renewable energy and agriculture industries ask the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) to reconsider its support to the non-governmental organisation Transport & Environment (T&E), which has led targeted and misleading campaigns against the use of biomass and sustainable liquid biofuel.
More than 20 associations have signed an open letter to NORAD - one of the main funders of T&E - urging the agency to reconsider the use of Norwegian taxpayers’ money. “NORAD states that its aim is to promote initiatives that reduce the impact of climate change. However, we are concerned that NORAD, an agency funded by Norwegian taxpayers, supports T&E, an organisation that attempts to discredit renewable energy sources such as biofuels and biomass that are important for the EU’s climate change policy and energy independence”, associations in an open letter to NORAD write. According to associations, the funding NORAD provides enables T&E to lobby directly against adopted EU policies, as EU lawmakers have repeatedly confirmed their support for the use of sustainable biofuels to displace fossil fuel.
The organisations signing the open letter underscore that NORAD is one of the main funders of T&E. According to publicly available data of T&E, NORAD allocates NOK 9 million (approx. EUR 820 000) annually to fund T&E for the period from 2021 to 2025. This comes on top of other donors such as the European Commission or the German Ministry of Environment.
T&E seeks to discredit the use of sustainable liquid biofuel in the transport sector, ignoring the scientifically proven benefits of biofuel in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector and in achieving decarbonisation targets. “Worryingly, T&E aggressively promotes e-mobility as the only alternative to fossil fuels in the transport sector and calls for the abandonment of other renewable fuels from now on. T&E should be aware that, since the EU transport market is currently dominated by cars with internal combustion engines, abandoning biofuels would only increase the use of fossil fuels in the EU”, the authors of the open letter write.
“Furthermore, we are concerned that some environmental NGOs also advocate for non-recognition of primary wood as a renewable resource (i.e., biomass), thus supporting the use of fossil fuels in the heating sector. The ultimate goal of the NGOs that actively support this position is the exclusion of biomass from the list of renewable energy sources from 2030. This would equate biomass with the burning of fossil fuels, essentially ruining the biomass sector, an important supplier of heat in many Northern and Eastern European countries.
“It is important to emphasise that replacing biomass with electric heat pumps in the heat sector is not possible – the only alternative is natural gas. The same is true for biofuels – they are unlikely to be replaced by electric vehicles in the medium term. On the contrary, a reduction in the use of biofuels would lead to a significant increase in the share of petroleum fuels in the transport sector”, associations write.
The open letter was signed by more than 20 associations representing the EU renewable energy and agriculture sectors: World Biomass Association, European renewable ethanol association ePURE, Swedish Bioenergy Association SVEBIO, Association of the German Biofuel Industry and associations from Latvia and Lithuania and Poland.