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Biofuels: continuing a sustainable policy beyond 2020

 
 

During the international conference “Fuels of the Future” at Berlin’s CityCube, the renewable fuels industry is calling for the continuation of a sustainable European biofuels policy beyond 2020.


Berlin, 19 January 2015
More than 500 participants from over 30 countries have followed the invitation of five associations from the German bioenergy industry to get information on current market trends, to discuss political framework conditions, prospects for mobility and views on the sustainability certification of biofuels during the conference from 19 - 20 January 2015. The conference has been jointly organized by the German BioEnergy Association , the Union for the Promotion of Oil and Protein Plants , the German Bioethanol Industry Association , the German Biofuels Industry Association and the Biogas Association.


Two issues are of particular interest to the conference participants: The practical implementation of the new greenhouse gas reduction obligation in Germany that entered into force on 1 January 2015 and the urgently needed consideration of biofuels in the definition of new environmental targets for the transport sector by the European legislator for the time after 2020. If the latter is not achieved, the biofuels already introduced on market will no longer have any perspective. The negative consequences that must be expected from this affect the entire supply chain, from the cultivation of raw materials up to the production of biofuels. Since 2003, the European renewable ethanol industry has sustained around 50,000 direct and indirect jobs and the biodiesel industry.


With the greenhouse gas reduction obligation defined in the German legislation, the affected companies in the mineral oil industry will have to reduce their emissions by 3.5 percent in the years 2015 and 2016, calculated on the basis of the fuel quantities sold in the calendar year. For the period from 2017 to 2019, this reduction requirement increases to 4 % and reaches 6 % by 2020. Germany is the only member state of the European Union going ahead with a scheme, which, according the conference organizers, will also lead to a competition of greenhouse gas efficiency and optimization measures. Again, all stages of the supply chain will be affected. The producers of biofuels therefore demand a consistent documentation and strict controlling of reports on greenhouse gas savings across the EU to ensure that only real reduction values are taken into account. Several presentations in the conference deal with the question of what changes will occur in the markets as a consequence of this new type of competition and how the industry as a whole can respond to this.


Another focus will be on the EU fuels policy and the decarbonisation of transport. Here, the question arises which political instruments can be used to promote sustainably produced biofuels. In addition to numerous forums, the organizers have included a panel discussion with participants from the EU Commission, the European farmers and co-operatives association COPA/COGECA, the European Environmental Bureau and BP Europe SE to address this issue. Central to this discussion is the question of what impact the EU biofuel policy will have on the international biofuels industry, on relevant trade flows and the mobility of the future. In view of the position taken by the European Parliament in September 2013 on the European Commission’s proposals to amend the Renewable Energy Directive (2009/28/EC) and the Fuel Quality Directive (2009/30/EC), which was adopted by the Energy Council in June 2014, the industry still lacks planning security and a perspective for the time after 2020.


“An implementation of the present proposals would disadvantage the biodiesel and bioethanol established on the market while beyond 2020 the focus is expected to shift towards technologies that are still not available and will require billions of new investments”, criticizes Helmut Lamp, Chairman of the German BioEnergy Association, warning that: “To limit or even reduce the sale of certified biofuels produced in Europe would be a declaration of bankruptcy for the industrial policy and a fatal signal for other sectors of the bioeconomy. Beyond 2020, there has to be a competition in the biofuel sector open to all types of technologies, in which biodiesel and bioethanol are included in the EU’s biofuels strategy to contribute to climate protection and resource conservation. This makes it all the more incomprehensible that biofuels are not an explicit part of the greenhouse gas reduction policies neither in Germany’s climate protection targets for 2020 nor in the 2030 Framework for Climate and Energy Policies decided by the European Council”, says Lamp.

 

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