The European Union has removed the single biggest driver for food based biofuel expansion in Europe: the infamous transport target, according to Transport & Environment (T&E), which represents 53 organisations from 26 countries across Europe.

T&E is referring to an agreement reached by EU governments, the European Union and the Commission on June 14.

“Governments now have no more excuse to force drivers to burn food or palm oil in their tanks after 2020 and should design policies that promote the use of renewable electricity or biofuels based on wastes and residues,” said Laura Buffet, T&E clean fuels manager.

For advanced fuels the new law sets a de facto target of 7%. Half of that will need to come from advanced biofuels from waste and residues whilst the rest is expected to come from renewable electricity and other fuels. In reality the shares of advanced biofuels and renewable electricity will be lower because of multipliers of 2 and 3.5 respectively.

“Europeans don’t want to be forced to burn palm oil or food in their cars,” concluded Buffet. “It’s a disaster for the climate and biodiversity. It’s a disgrace that Europeans could be burning palm oil for another 12 years and very sad to see the European Commission playing such an obstructive role in the final negotiations. But the battle is not over: each European government can in 2021 decide to ditch palm oil and other food-based biofuels.”

The EU’s Renewable Energy Directive was introduced to accelerate the uptake of renewables such as solar and wind but its transport chapter has promoted the use of food crops like palm oil, rapeseed oil and soy oil to make biofuels.

Biofuels can be counted as zero emissions energy for climate accounting purposes. If we would properly account for biofuels’ overall emissions, road transport emissions would be 10% higher.