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Biofuels essential for fulfilling Germany's national climate targets – BBE

The German Federal Government’s six-month Presidency of the Council of the European Union began on July 1, 2020. As a goal of its agenda, the Federal Government stated that it wishes to “work towards climate-friendly, sustainable and affordable mobility”. The Bundesverband Bioenergie e.V. (BBE) welcome this objective and point out that openness to technological ideas and the sustainably available potential of biofuels need to be considered in order to fulfil national climate protection targets.

Brandenburg Tor, Berlin, Germany.

The German Federal Government’s six-month Presidency of the Council of the European Union began on July 1, 2020. As a goal of its agenda, the Federal Government stated that it wishes to “work towards climate-friendly, sustainable and affordable mobility”. The Bundesverband Bioenergie e.V. (BBE) welcome this objective and point out that openness to technological ideas and the sustainably available potential of biofuels need to be considered in order to fulfil national climate protection targets.

According to Bundesverband Bioenergie e.V. (BBE), the umbrella association of the German federal bioenergy industry, the German Presidency of the Council of the European Union must set the course for a future-proof biofuel sector

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 canceled out technological efficiency gains and greenhouse gas (GHG) savings.

De-fossilisation of the transport sector poses a central challenge not least with respect to overall economic significance. Yet time is running out for climate protection as measured by the GHG budget, which is still in place globally in order to ensure compliance with the 1.5°C target.

The “European 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 six months of the German Council Presidency, BBE says.

As a rule, the biofuel sector underscores openness to technological ideas in order to open up new fields of technology and opportunities to create value in the economy. This is necessary and correct for robustly formulated and proactive economic and climate policies.

Sustainable biofuels key to transport decarbonisation

According to BBE, it is only sustainable biofuels with their diverse raw material basis and production that can now noticeably contribute to climate protection in transport. For agriculture and forestry, biofuels offer an important alternative income source in globally saturated markets. Without biofuels, GHG emissions in the German transport sector would have been about 9.5 million tonnes CO2eq higher in 2018.

Achieving the 2030 target in accordance with the Climate Protection Act requires the sector to make a massive reduction in GHG 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. 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 Climate Protection Act stipulates an ambitious, annually updated reduction path. Failures to meet targets incur penalties and must be corrected in the near-term by the Federal Government. The use of all biofuels is indispensable for achieving the 2030 transport target and can save considerable quantities of money which would be due should the target be breached.

Enormous challenges for the German Council Presidency

The German Council Presidency has to deal with the European Green Deal and the consequences of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic 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.

Against this background, the associations of the German biofuel industry present a joint position paper, supplemented by proposed measures for further development of the Federal Government climate policies for the transport sector.

The measures in brief:

  • Increase the share of renewable energies in transport;
  • Raise capping limit for biofuels from cultivated biomass and hence create a level playing field on an international level;
  • Increase GHG reduction quota;
  • Establish framework conditions for higher blending quotas;
  • Tighten requirements for sustainability certification and documentation obligations
  • Enable crediting of biofuels to CO2 fleet emission values;
  • Fund biofuel system research and model regions.

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