Oilseed producers demand rejection of delegate legislation to regulate low and high iLUC-risk biofuels by EU Parliament

On 8 February 2019, the European Commission presented a draft delegated act regulating biofuel feedstocks with a high or low risk of triggering indirect land-use changes (iLUC). The proposal results from the trilogue negotiations on the reform of the Renewable Energies Directive (RED II) in June 2018. Due to the numerous exceptions contained in the draft, the Union for the Promotion of Oil and Protein Plants (UFOP) and the Fédération française des Producteurs d'Oléagineux et de Protéagineux (FOP) consider the draft to be unacceptable as it stands and call on the EU Parliament to reject the delegated act within the objection period before the end of the actual parliaments legislature.

The RED II-reform entered into force at the end of 2018. Article 26 (2) stipulates that the proportion of biofuels from food and feed crops with a high risk of indirect land-use change (iLUC) will be limited (capped) on the basis of the amount consumed in the calendar year 2019. The proportion of these biofuels must be gradually reduced to 0% from 31 December 2023 to 2030. In April 2017, the European Parliament (EP) put the EU Commission under political pressure to solve the "problem of biofuels from palm oil", which often triggered a critical public debate.

The draft delegated act now presented is intended to anchor into EU law, what are the high-iLUC risk materials and – in this case – to define which biofuels could be certified as low risk biofuels. However, it provides "loopholes" which must be closed from the point of view of UFOP and FOP. Anything else would run counter to the political will of the EP and endanger the further development of biofuels based on rapeseed oil. In particular the regulations for a special treatment for small holder plantations are critically seen, because thereby already accomplished and future deforestations get possibly legalized. The approval of cultivation on degraded land should also be criticised in its intended form. In this case, proof must be required that no cultivation has taken place on these areas for the last ten years. We are committed that new criteria must be proposed.

UFOP and FOP recall the EP's demand for an end of counting of palm oil-based biofuels with high iLUC-risk on the greenhouse gas reduction aims. Instead of palm oil, the cultivation of crops should be encouraged that make a significant contribution to animal nutrition, in particular to the EU protein supply. Feed as a by-product of the processing of rapeseed into sustainable biofuels is currently Europe's most important GMO-free protein source. Only if critical raw materials such as palm oil are removed from the biofuel targets the biofuel sector can continue to be an essential part of a European protein strategy such as it was currently being discussed by the EU Commission.

In general, both associations call for more courage in the European biofuel strategy with regarding to the use of biomass based biofuels, in particular sustainable biodiesel from rapeseed, which are already sufficiently available on the market. This will also make an important contribution to supporting European producer prices, which have been under pressure for years due to a global surplus situation. The contribution of biofuels from residual materials, such as straw, must be analysed very precisely in terms of the biomass potential available and should not be overestimated. Other alternatives such as eMobility or fuels from renewable electricity are currently being developed and will only become a noticeable alternative in some years.

The associations point out that many countries have committed themselves in the Paris climate protection agreement to submit national climate protection plans. Biofuels from cultivated biomass can make an important contribution to climate protection and must therefore play an important role in these plans in the transport sector. The associations point out that, with the exception of the use of sustainable biofuels, the transport sector has so far made practically no contribution to meet the climate protection targets.