The Renewable Energy Directive (RED, 2009/28/EG) specified the binding goal of replacing at least 10% of the requirement for fossil fuels (disregarding air traffic) with energy from renewable sources from 2020. This increases the European Union's requirements for biofuel. In the context of setting up national action plans the member states have determined the national biofuel requirements to achieve the goal. According to this, around 21 million tons of biofuel, primarily biodiesel and HVO (Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil), must be provided for the diesel market alone.
This is associated with an increased demand for raw materials for the purposes of biofuel production. The question of the effects of this increase was already anchored in the directive, in which the EU Commission was commissioned to investigate possible indirect land use change (iLUC) and, if applicable, to present suggestions for adapting the legal framework conditions. This process is well underway and has led to intense and extremely controversial discussions inside and outside the EU.
UFOP does not doubt that the increased demand for biomass has effects on land use orientation. However a specific cause-effect relationship cannot be demonstrated on the basis of the study commissioned by the Commission. The quantities of raw materials required by the EU, relative to global agricultural production, are too small for this.
The intensity of the discussion between the business concerned, the EU Commission and parliamentarians in Berlin and Brussels has sharply increased at the moment. The focus is on the question of whether the so-called "iLUC factors" need to be taken into account as an additional negative value for biofuels in the greenhouse gas (GHG) balance sheet calculation. UFOP fears that in the worst case this additional requirement for GHG saving for the European biodiesel and HVO sector would mean the end of biofuel production based on plant oil. As the GHG reduction of at least 50% required from 2018 on as a precondition for market access in the EU cannot be achieved. Other markets would have to be sought out for the oilseeds previously produced in the EU for this purpose or the oil obtained from them. For the investments in the biofuels industry amounting to billions of euros an early end of the amortisation would be required. This puts many jobs in jeopardy. For the EU objectives, this would result in a supply gap that could not be closed.
The implementation of the RED requirements is a major challenge, as the iLUC hypothesis implies that the local cultivation of raw materials for biofuel production leads to the clearing of rainforest overseas and thus the destruction of biotopes. The burden of the sharply increased greenhouse gas emissions caused by this are now to be attributed to European farmers. European rapeseed growers, who produce under the strictest technical conditions designed to protect the natural environment, would thus be punished for inadequate forest protection laws in third-party states, while in countries like Indonesia, for example, tree-felling continued despite the imposition of iLUC.
Against this background UFOP's goal is to carry on fact-based and thus technical discussions with the political decision-makers: the EU Commission, the federal government and the members of parliament in Brussels and Berlin. For this purpose UFOP makes available information such as studies or specialist publications and offers itself as a discussion partner.