Some considerations for the environmental NGO's that campaign against biofuels

The EU trilogue discussions on the Fit-for-55 package have started in Brussels.

A number of NGO's started to campaign against the deployment of biofuels in the transport sector, where they single out the use of (food and feed) crop based biofuels. The solutions they propose for cutting emissions in mobility are to “avoid unnecessary transport, [..] modal shift [..] and accelerate electrification”. These are all important, but are not going to bring down fossil oil use in the mobility sector in time. The climate crisis is not going to wait.

We invite them to consider the remaining carbon budget and the lack of progress in cutting climate emissions in the mobility sector across EU27.

Ramping up renewable fuels to be used in the existing vehicle fleet, in aviation and shipping and in the fuel infrastructure is by far the fastest manner to reduce climate emission in mobility on large scale.

Now they make a point against crop-based biofuels, bringing forward outdated concerns about crop-based biofuels, where policy has already addressed mitigations for the risks they point out.

The policy direction is clear: we need to significantly ramp up waste-based biofuels (next to electrification).

Industry investments today are ramping up capacity for waste-based biofuels and e-fuels and this reaches synergies with the chemical sector to use the surplus green carbon in their processes, to avoid new fossil carbon in chemical building blocks.

Waste-based biofuels provide a lot of societal benefits: they provide extra income for rural regions (for agricultural residues), they mitigate pollution by getting energy out of wastes, strengthen sustainable land use and also have the potential to create negative emissions.

About the position of crop-based biofuels

The share of crop-based biofuels has been limited by EU policy. RED 2 further lowered the 7%-cap for Member States to 1%pt above their 2020-levels, in several cases this is well below the 7%-cap.

Furthermore, biofuels made from palm oil are being phased out and GHG-calculations now take into account undesired indirect impacts. On top of that, there are strict and ambitious sustainability conditions with which all players in the supply chain need to comply.

Overcoming fundamental problems of unsustainable land use will not be solved by only demanding sustainability in the production of crop-based biofuels. These sustainability requirements should be in force for the TOTAL food and feed production system, for all land uses.

Only demanding a change in the approximately 3% of the agricultural land used for crop-based biofuels in the EU will not be enough to generate the impact needed for improving biodiversity, soil conditions, and water quality in the whole system.

As we need to prevent new fossil carbon from entering our economy, we need to ramp up the deployment of another carbon base, also for non-food and non-feed uses, obviously under sustainable conditions.

We therefore invite these NGO's to join us on this fundamental challenge: how to redesign a sustainable land-use system for all societal functions, including more nature and more forests, so that we become fundamentally independent of fossil carbon sources.