EU’s failed biofuels policy

Europe’s thirst for biodiesel to fuel its cars and trucks has likely wiped out forests the size of the Netherlands since the introduction of the EU’s green fuels law in 2010[1], a new study shows. T&E, who carried out the study, calls on the EU to end support to palm and soy biodiesel immediately to avoid further deforestation, habitat loss and greater CO2 emissions than the fossil diesel it replaces.

The Renewable Energy Directive (RED) was introduced in 2010, setting a 10% renewable energy target for transport by 2020 for each member state. This has driven up demand for cheap crop-based biodiesel, such as palm and soy oil, which is mainly sourced from Asia and South America. It is likely that roughly 4 million hectares of forests have subsequently been razed, destroying an estimated 10% of the world’s remaining orangutan habitats.

Laura Buffet, energy director at T&E, said: “10 years of this ‘green’ fuels law and what have we got to show for it? Rampant deforestation, habitats wiped out and worse emissions than if we had used polluting diesel instead. A policy that was supposed to save the planet is actually trashing it. We cannot afford another decade of this failed policy. We need to break the biofuels monopoly in renewable transport and put electricity at the centre of the RED instead.”

Europe has burned around 39 million tonnes of palm and soy biodiesel alone in its cars and trucks since 2010, emitting up to three times more CO2 emissions than the fossil diesel it replaced. T&E says the EU needs to phase-out support to all crop biofuels by 2030 at the latest in its upcoming ‘Fit for 55’ package, under the RED review.

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