Industry and Farmers See Biofuels as a Crucial Market ‘Outside CAP’
by Sarantis Michalopoulos (ERUACTIV) Farmers see biofuels as a crucial source of income but investors clashed with NGOs at an event organised by EURACTIV last week (12 May), over the European Commission’s post-2020 biofuels proposal and the realities of its impact on rural areas.
The Commission has proposed reducing the share of conventional biofuels used in transport from a maximum of 7% in 2021 to 3.8% in 2030 [see background].
It also set an obligation to raise the share of other ‘low emissions fuels’, such as renewable electricity and advanced biofuels in transport to 6.8%.
But the impact of this reviewed policy on rural development is still unclear. Farmers and ethanol investors focused on the practical implications for rural development, such as employment and new markets outside the CAP subsidies.
On the other hand, the NGO Oxfam highlighted the global impact of EU biofuels policy and noted that a complete phase-out by 2030 should be implemented.
Without income, farming is lost
He (Eddie Punch, general secretary of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association) also referred to protein imports, saying that 70% of the EU’s plant protein comes from South America. “Biofuels offer us the opportunity to replace some of that with the by-products of the biofuel generation,” he emphasised.
As for greenhouse gas emissions, he noted that farmers are already under pressure to deliver cuts. In the event of a setback in the transport sector, such as the phase-out of biofuels, farmers will be forced to foot the bill and reduce emissions even more in ways that are probably not doable or sustainable for the sector, Punch added.
For the head of the ICSA, indirect land use change (ILUC) emissions are not a big evil inside the EU. “ILUC comes outside the EU. Palm oil in Asia is one and the most significant causes. If we don’t have protein bio-products in Europe, we have to import protein from soya plantations in South America, which indirectly takes out rainforest down there.” READ MORE