ePURE: EU should strengthen existing biofuel sustainability rules

By ePURE | July 26, 2016

A European Court of Auditors report published recently has found that there are a number of gaps in the European Commission’s existing biofuels sustainability certification framework. The European renewable ethanol association (ePURE) welcomes a number of the report’s findings despite the fact that the report assessed the sustainability frameworks in only four member states. The sustainability regime for biofuels in Europe can and should be strengthened further to ensure that only the most sustainable biofuels, like European ethanol, are promoted by EU policy after 2020.

ePURE fully agrees with the report’s findings regarding gaps in the existing biofuels sustainability framework which do not adequately safeguard against “conflict over land ownership, forced or child labour, poor working conditions for farmers and dangers to health and safety” and will support measures to address this. Biofuels found to have been produced under such circumstances should be totally prohibited in Europe.

In its recent Roadmap to 2030 ePURE calls for a number of measures to strengthen the sustainability of biofuels used in Europe, including:

 - The existing sustainability rules for biofuels should be maintained and strengthened to ensure robust and fraud proof certification.

- Full sustainability criteria and traceability requirements should be applied for all advanced biofuels and other bioenergy options, as they currently are for conventional biofuels.

- The same sustainability criteria applied to biofuels should be applied to all transport fuels, including petrol and diesel, to ensure that there is a level playing field for transport fuels.

- Allow biofuels with low indirect land use change (ILUC) risks to contribute to the EU 2030 climate targets.

- The use of palm oil, which has high land use impacts, should be prohibited in Europe, particularly in the biofuel sector.

- EU agricultural cross-compliance obligations should be extended to biofuels produced from non-EU crops and feedstock.

ePURE welcomes the commission’s current review of the sustainability of all bioenergy for the period aTer 2020 and urges it to learn lessons from the existing policy framework. The commission should adhere to its recent GLOBIOM study to identify and differentiate between those biofuels that are sustainable and those that have unacceptably high levels of ILUC risk, such as palm oil.

“We are the only sector in the entire world which actually apply any type of mandatory sustainability rules for our products. The GLOBIOM study clearly shows that there are a number of good biofuels, including European ethanol, that are entirely sustainable and the Commission should fully back these biofuels in its post-2020 policies. European ethanol has 63 percent GHG savings, low land use impacts and no negative social consequences or effects on food prices—it is the type of good biofuel that Europe should support,” said Robert Wright, secretary general of ePURE.