Letter From Europe: The 7 Priorities to De-Carbonize Now through Sustainable biofuels, rather than waiting for future technologies

July 15, 2020 |

The European bioenergy sector has issued a series of 7 recommendations relating to “setting the course for a future-proof biofuel sector”. Then timing relates to the German Federal Government’s six month presidency of the Council of the European Union, which began on 1 July 2020. The German government expressed that it wished to “work towards climate-friendly, sustainable and affordable mobility”.

The industry detailed its 7-point recommendations in a position paper which you can download here.

The 7 Priorities

1. Increase the share of renewable energies in transport

2. Raise capping limit for biofuels from cultivated biomass and hence create a level playing field on an international level

3. Increase greenhouse gas reduction quota

4. Establish framework conditions for higher blending quotas

5. Tighten requirements for sustainability certification and documentation obligations

6. Enable crediting of biofuels to CO2 fleet emission values

7. Fund biofuel system research and model regions

The industry paper, which was coordinated in its development by UFOP, noted that “despite all efforts, the transport sector has made virtually no contribution to climate protection as yet in Germany. Both higher power to weight ratios in the vehicle fleet as well as an increase in goods transport by road have cancelled out technological efficiency gains and greenhouse gas savings.”

Yep, the easy steps of de-carbonization are done, and now come the tough sectors, like transport. UFOP and its coalition partners note:

Achieving the 2030 target in accordance with the Climate Protection Act requires the sector to make a massive reduction in greenhouse gas emissions: as greenhouse gas emissions resulting from transport here in Germany have risen further to 163.5 million tonnes, a reduction of 68.5 million tonnes is necessary in order to reach the legally stipulated value of 95 million tonnes and achieve the target in 2030. The trend in the transport sector has so far run counter to the target objective.

Do Something Now

The position paper notes:

As other measures such as e-mobility, hydrogen and other electricity-based fuels will only provide noticeable effects regarding climate protection after 2030, biofuels are set to become the medium of choice for greenhouse gas reduction in transport in the next 10 years, especially when it comes to vehicles.

The German Council Presidency has to deal with the Green Deal and the consequences of the corona crisis simultaneously. In comparison to its previous Council Presidency 13 years ago, the challenges could not be greater. The biofuel sector as a whole must also be given appropriate consideration in this context owing to its extensive value added chain, especially on the level of raw material production. Proper target and quota specifications lead directly to corresponding value added and workplace effects, as well as an effective contribution towards climate protection.

De-fossilization of the transport sector poses a central challenge not least in respect to overall economic significance. Yet time is running out for climate protection as measured by the greenhouse gas budget, which is still in place globally in order to ensure compliance with the 1.5°C target. The “Green Deal” thus envisages an increase in the climate protection target to between 50 and 55 percent by 2030, with the Environmental Committee even discussing a target specification of 65 percent on these grounds.

The enormous pressure to act on climate protection consequently calls for priorities to be set with regard to what measures can be implemented in the commitment period. The climate protection policies must be oriented to this target objective in the next 6 months of the German Council Presidency.

Without biofuels, greenhouse gas emissions in the German transport sector would have been about 9.5 million tonnes CO2eq.higher in 2018.

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