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EU keeps palm oil in the mix

The European Commission (EC) has gone most of the way toward banning the use of unsustainable palm oil in EU transport, but according to the European Renewable Ethanol Association (ePURE), it hasn’t quite closed the deal. Instead of acting on the RED II agreement and removing so-called high-indirect land-use change (ILUC) risk biofuels from the EU’s transport mix, it has left a door open.

Emmanuel Desplechin has been appointed new Secretary General of ePURE replacing Robert Wright (photo courtesy ePURE).

Emmanuel Desplechin, Secretary-General of the European Renewable Ethanol Association  (photo courtesy ePURE).

According to the European Renewable Ethanol Association (ePURE), the draft delegated act would still allow imported feedstock that “violates” the spirit of RED II agreement.

Making an exception for feedstock produced by smallholders isn’t just allowing high-ILUC-risk biofuels such as palm oil into Europe through the back door, it’s allowing it through the front door. The hard-won compromise reached on RED II couldn’t have been clearer in its message that Europe should phase out biofuels associated with the significant deforestation and peatland drainage that has defined most palm oil expansion, said Emmanuel Desplechin, Secretary-General of ePURE.

European renewable ethanol is made from European feedstock and delivers high greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction and is not associated with deforestation. Its use cuts GHG emissions by more than 70 percent on average compared to fossil petrol.

Low-ILUC-risk biofuels certified as such could escape from the phase-out, but these were clearly defined as either produced through improved agricultural practices or from unused land. By inventing a third, alternative criterion for smallholders, the Commission is making a mockery of the agreed RED II compromise, said Emmanuel Desplechin.

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