03 May 2022, 12:28
Edgar Meza

Germany to limit use of biofuel from crops in face of imminent food crisis

Frankfurter Rundschau

Germany’s environment minister is planning further reductions in biofuel production in view of growing food shortages due to the war in Ukraine, Frankfurter Rundschau reports. The war is “a dramatic reminder” that agricultural land is limited worldwide and urgently needed for food, said environment minister Steffi Lemke. People in the Global South in particular are already suffering from a lack of grain, she noted. It is "our responsibility as a large industrialised country that agricultural land is used for the production of food and not for the tank." Agrofuels are currently added to petrol and diesel to reduce the carbon footprint. Bioethanol, obtained from wheat, rye or sugar beets, accounts for 10 percent of petrol sold in Germany, while 7 percent of diesel consists of vegetable oil products made from rapeseed or palm oil. The climate relief effect of biofuels is also questionable, particularly in the case of palm oil, production of which often necessitates the destruction of rainforests. Lemke said the use of palm oil in diesel would be banned in Germany from 2023 and she now wanted to take further steps to reduce the use of agrofuels. Around 9 percent of the world grain harvest and 14 percent of corn and sugar beet are processed into agrofuel, according to the environment ministry. Non-profit organisation Environmental Action Germany (DUH) has also called for a ban on agrofuels. Industry representatives oppose the move, however, arguing that biofuels “significantly reduce the need for fossil fuels and thus contribute to security of supply and fewer dependencies". High raw material prices have already led to a decline in biofuel production.   

Germany’s previous government already sought to limit the use of biofuels and agreed to ban the use of palm oil in 2023.

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