A rescue operation for palm oil biofuels tabled by the European Commission

A rescue operation for palm oil biofuels tabled by the European Commission

Palm oil in EU cars is a threat for forests and peatlands across the globe, thus, its contribution should not be counted towards EU climate and transport decarbonisation targets. Despite the scientific evidence, the European Commission is proposing to the European Parliament and Council a rescue operation for palm in a draft decision (1) aiming at implementing the Renewable Energy Directive (RED2) agreed among the co-legislators last year.

Instead of setting the criteria to freeze palm at 2019 levels and phase out from 2023 as foreseen in RED2, the European Commission tabled a plan which is a sleight of hand. It recognises that expansion of palm oil production is bad for the environment but, immediately after, offers a wide open door for the same palm oil to still be used in EU biofuels.

The name of the back door is the « low iLUC risk » concept as proposed in the draft decision.

The draft definition is far from the well-documented low iLUC science and does not in any way take into account the overall objective of the regulation which is cutting the link between the EU framework for biofuels and global deforestation.

On the contrary, the draft is a collection of loopholes, including a mean by which palm oil could be classified as high and low risk at the same time, a vague definition of unused land, a loose certification process, and, above all, an exemption for small plantations which number is growing at a steady pace, and are controlled by big operators for palm crushing, certification and export. It is estimated that by 2030 small holders will manage 60% of the palm oil plantation area and will double their production capacity (2). This means that under such a scenario proposed by the European Commission, in the coming years, EU imports of palm oil for biofuels would continue to expand. According to buisness estimates, small holders represents already now more than 6 million tonnes of palm oil, meaning more than twice the volume imported in Europe to produce biofuels.

Stefan Schreiber, President of Farm Europe’s Green Energy Platform said : « The European Commission decided to circumvent the mandate given by the co-legislators in order not to disturb its trade conversation with Indonesia and Malaysia. This puts at risk the capacity of the EU to fully mobilise sustainable biofuels in order to decarbonise transport and achieve its climate objectives. This strategy undermines the credibility of the RED2 and should not be accepted by the European Parliament and Council ».

  1. https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/regdel/#/delegatedActs/1248
  2. https://www.iopri.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/WPLACE-17-1.1.-OIL-PALM-SMALLHOLDER-Bungaran-Saragih.pdf

O artigo foi publicado originalmente em Farm Europe.

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