Biodiesel Worse for the Environment than Fossil fuels, Warn Green Campaigners
by James Crisp (EurActiv) Instead of reducing them, using biodiesel in transport will increase polluting emissions by 4%, the same as putting an extra 12 million cars on the road in 2020, green campaigners have said.
Biodiesel is touted as one way to decarbonise the EU’s transport sector. But, according to NGO Transport and Environment (T&E), using it is actually worse for the environment than traditional fossil fuels.
T&E’s analysis builds on the long-delayed and controversial Globiom study, that was finally published last month.
A consortium of three respected research institutes, including Ecofys and IIASA and e4Tech, wrote the study.
But the findings were denied by Raffaello Garofalo, the secretary general of the European Biodiesel Board, an industry group, who branded the study “unreliable”.
“We are quite surprised by the biased campaign set-up by T&E,” said Garofalo who accused T&E of lobbying “against biodiesel and in favour of fossil fuels.” A graph released by T&E indeed shows fossil fuels emitting less than rapeseed, soy or palm oil.
T&E took the findings of the study added the direct emissions of biofuels from, for example, tractors and fertilisers, and subtracted the emissions from the alternative fossil fuel.
But ILUC emissions are not included in the carbon accounting of biofuels under the RED, currently under review with fresh legislation expected before the end of the year, and Fuel Quality Directive.
This means that ILUC-causing biofuels count towards the EU’s 2020 RED target, and can be eligible for public money at national level.
By 2020, 10% of energy used in transport in each member state has to be produced from renewable energy sources, such as biofuels, biogas, electricity or other renewable sources.
Dings said, “The cure is plainly worse than the disease. The 7% cap on food-based biofuels has helped though, and should be lowered to zero after 2020.
“If we do not end incentives for bad biofuels, the better ones will not stand a chance.”
Rather, Garofalo prefers referring to another model developed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which he said was a more reliable, “open and peer-reviewed process”. CARB is the same agency that investigated recent cars’ emissions rules violations in the US.
“The CARB ILUC model is an open and peer-reviewed process, which resulted in ILUC values for biodiesel that are four to five times lower than those found by the GLOBIOM study,” Garofalo said. READ MORE and MORE (Transport & Environment) and MORE (Biofuels Digest)
Excerpt from Biofuels Digest: AFP, the major international news service, reported last week that “Palm oil produced on tropical plantations that drive deforestation has become a major biofuel for vehicles in the European Union, industry figures released Tuesday by an environmental group revealed.”
Well, we could nit-picky about the grammar get. But instead, we’ll look at this story in the context of our 2014 guide to the 10 Top Mistakes in Covering Renewable Fuels.
1. Check facts, avoid expanding locally true conditions to universals, or mistaking upper limits of ranges for medians and averages.
Take this one from the AFP article.
“Second only to rapeseed as a biofuel, overall palm oil use in EU countries jumped six-fold from 2010 to 2015, accounting for a 34 percent increase in biodiesel consumption during that period, the figures showed.”
Sounds pretty definitive, eh? Well, maybe not. The US Foreign Agriculture Service says that EU biodiesel usage has dropped during this period.
One reason? EU rules allow for double-counting of especially emissions-reducing biodiesel, and obligated parties are able to comply with less blending of biodiesel if they use more emissions-friendly sources — and palm oil biodiesel is not one of them. So it can look like gallons are going up, using one set of figures dervived from mandates, when wet gallons are actually going down.
The source of “the figures showed” is a report issued by an NGO, Transport & Environment, which is actively campaigning against palm oil biodiesel (as is their right) — the figure is from a press release which ties back to a T&E report which makes the claim without any other supporting reference. READ MORE