Majority of Germans positive towards transportation biofuels survey finds
Two-thirds of Germans have a positive attitude towards biofuels, while almost half consider biofuels will be increasingly important for future climate change mitigation according to a survey.
"If more than two-thirds of Germans are in favour of biofuels, policymakers must take this into account and gear up the use of sustainable biofuels in road transport in order to achieve climate targets," said Norbert Schindler, Chairman of the German Bioethanol Industry Association (BDBe).
The Biofuels 2020 survey was conducted by the Kantar market research institute in August 2020 on behalf of the German Bioethanol Industry Association (BDBe), Association of the German Biofuels Industry (VDB), Association of the Oilseed Crushing and Oil Refining Industry in Germany (OVID) and Union for the Promotion of Oil and Protein Plants (UFOP).
It found that 65 percent of Germans have a fundamentally positive attitude towards biofuels while 43 percent of survey participants expect biofuels to become increasingly significant in combatting climate change.
If more than two-thirds of Germans are in favour of biofuels, policymakers must take this into account and gear up the use of sustainable biofuels in road transport in order to achieve climate targets. Most Germans see a mix of drive concepts as the best approach, remarked Norbert Schindler, Chairman of the German Bioethanol Industry Association (BDBe).
A growing role for biofuels in climate change mitigation
The survey also found that almost 70 percent of all respondents, including half of those with a sceptical stance, would fill up with biofuels provided these are certified as sustainable and guaranteed to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) by at least 60 percent.
Most of those surveyed view a mix of different drive concepts as the solution to climate protection issues in the transport sector: 49 percent consider that electric mobility will play a major part in reducing GHGs. 43 percent believe that in five to ten years’ time biofuels will also become increasingly significant in combating climate change.
Fuel cells with hydrogen are given a similar rating (46 percent) when considering the drive solution of the future. Industry associations are calling for policies that adequately reflect these findings.
Politicians must not ignore these significant data on public attitudes to transport policy and climate change, Norbert Schindler underlined.
Preference for domestic feedstocks
Protecting the environment and resources are cited in particular by Germans as the reasons for their positive perception of biofuels. Domestic feedstocks such as sugar beet (77 percent), rapeseed (75 percent) or fodder cereals (66 percent) were ranked particularly high.
The study confirms the particular importance of regional sourcing for public acceptance of cultivated biomass. Fodder cereals, rapeseed and sugar beet are grown for this purpose on some 850 000 hectares (ha) across Germany, making them an important alternative source of income for local farmers. The survey presented here confirms the nuanced appraisal of feedstock originating in Germany and the climate and environmental protection benefits, emphasised Detlef Kurreck, Chairman UFOP.
According to the survey, only a third of respondents are sceptical about biofuels, while 24 percent are keen to see higher blends of bioethanol or biodiesel. Many even call for 100 percent biofuel options.
Certified sustainability as a pre-requisite for biofuels use
Use of agricultural commodities for energy production is cited as the main reason for moderate use about these fuels, as sceptics believe this causes hunger.
Nobody is starving anywhere in the world because we are cultivating rapeseed in Germany. On the contrary: consumers enjoy rapeseed honey and farm animals love protein-rich rapeseed meal. Human nutrition ultimately also benefits from the meat, milk or eggs those animals produce. We, therefore, urge policymakers to acknowledge the contribution biofuels make to climate change mitigation and the agricultural value-added chain and to take due account of this in measures for the national implementation of RED II, said Jaana Kleinschmit von Lengefeld, President of OVID.
About one in two of those with a sceptical stance would use biofuels in their vehicles if sustainability was guaranteed. That is already standard practice today, the trade bodies point out, and has been a statutory requirement since 2011.
For example, only biofuels with an officially approved sustainability certificate may be used, biomass processed into biofuels may not come from land that is deemed worthy of protection or that has been cleared, and the biofuel must make a significant contribution to cutting GHG emissions.
The certified carbon dioxide (CO2) balance of renewable biofuels includes all emissions from land-use changes, fertilisation, fuel consumption during harvest, transport, distribution, production and during combustion in engines.
Sustainable biofuels have thus proven their benefits in combatting climate change, the associations conclude.