UFOP Chairman Vogel: continue promoting biofuels after 2020 on the basis of an EU-wide obligation to reduce greenhouse gases

Berlin, 7th June 2016 – In a letter to the members of the responsible committees of the European Parliament, the Chairman of the Union for the Promotion of Oil and Protein Plants e.V. (UFOP), Wolfgang Vogel, argues the case for continuing to promote biofuels after 2020, including the biofuels that have already been introduced onto the market. Vogel stresses that biofuels, alongside improvements in engine efficiency, are the only effective short-term and medium-term measure for reducing the ever-increasing greenhouse gas emissions, especially in heavy goods traffic. In line with the obligation to reduce greenhouse gases, which has been in place in Germany since January 2015, they must face up to competition that is open to raw materials and technology.

UFOP’s Chairman justifies this demand with the internationally binding Paris climate protection agreement. In accordance with this, the signatories are obliged to submit national action plans by no later than 2020. Brazil has already announced, for example, that the expansion of the biofuel industry will be a fundamental pillar in its national climate protection strategy. Furthermore, countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and even the USA have already increased their national legal obligations regarding the use of biofuels. Within this context, Vogel stresses the importance of the 18 certification systems that have since been recognised by the European Commission and implemented worldwide.

If the EU were to stop promoting biofuels after 2020, it would inevitably give up its current policy-making position in shaping sustainability criteria and implementing and/or monitoring them nationally. Policy-makers are unaware of this pioneering role in environmental policy within the bioeconomy sector: this success has been lost in the discussions about fuel or food, or iLUC, which have not always been objective or scientifically balanced, stresses Vogel. Instead, the high sustainability standards as a result of the legal requirements specified by the EU must be further developed after 2020. This is because the so-called “advanced” biofuels made from recyclable materials and waste biomass will remain insignificant in terms of quantity for the foreseeable future. Those who remove the economic basis from the biofuels already introduced onto today’s market cannot expect the same economy to invest in new technologies that are considerably more expensive. Furthermore, studies confirm that e-mobility will not be able to make a significant contribution to climate protection for years to come. Policy-makers underestimate the challenges; even public bodies and authorities, amongst others, have not set a good example.

Vogel reiterates that the global agricultural markets are marked by considerable structural surpluses. A massive increase in prices on the international markets, as was seen in 2008 and 2009, which was the real catalyst for the food or fuel debate, cannot be seen at the moment. On the contrary: the pressure is increasing to create new alternative markets that are effective on a large scale. In light of the ambitious, tightly scheduled objective of achieving a 1.5 degree target, greenhouse gas efficiency must determine market access in global competition.

However, one precondition is that the method for balancing greenhouse gases is adjusted and that the rapeseed meal produced during rapeseed processing is considered and taken into account accordingly. Approximately one hectare of soy bean cultivation is replaced by every hectare of rapeseed in the EU. At present, the market is increasingly demanding dairy products declared as "not genetically modified". This demand can only be met with rapeseed meal in animal feed if there is a market for the rapeseed oil produced, emphasises UFOP’s Chairman. Fuel, food or feed do not, therefore, present a contradiction, but are rather common components of an integrated development concept.

You can download the Policy Information here.