In Belgium, Transport & Environment says food-based biofuels can still be counted towards the EU’s renewable energy target, the European Commission has proposed – in a stunning U-turn on its commitment to phase-out first-generation biofuels that are worse for the climate than fossil fuels. Member states will be able to use a maximum 3.8% share of food-based biofuels in transport towards the Renewable Energy Directive’s target for 2030, barely reduced from the current 4.9% market share at EU level.
It says that on average, biodiesel from virgin vegetable oil leads to around 80% higher emissions than the fossil diesel it replaces. This is based on biodiesel’s lifecycle emissions, including land-use change emissions which occur when new or existing cropland is used for biofuel feedstock production, thereby causing carbon sinks to be opened. In 2015, biodiesel made from rapeseed, palm oil and soy was the most popular biofuel in Europe with a market share of 80%.
So if it goes through, the Commission’s proposal will see greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from European transport increase over the period 2021-2030 by an amount equivalent to the emissions from the Netherlands in 2014, according to T&E’s calculations. These extra emissions are solely because of the use of these crop biofuels instead of regular diesel and petrol.