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16 Oct 2020, 13:44
Kerstine Appunn

Germany's environment ministry defends its “no-food, no-palm oil” policy for future biofuels

Clean Energy Wire

Germany’s environment ministry (BMU) wants to stick to its draft law proposal for the use of renewable energies in the transport sector – including the severe limitation of food and feed crops and palm oil in biofuels by 2026 - despite harsh criticism from stakeholders.

The BMU’s law proposal is based on the European Union’s RED II directive which defines a series of sustainability and emission criteria for the use of bioliquids in transport. According to the directive, member states must require fuel suppliers to have a minimum of 14 percent of renewable energy in overall energy consumed in road and rail transport by 2030. A spokesperson for the environment ministry said that Germany was aiming to reach this goal by 2026 - easily meeting the EU target. The state of Baden-Württemberg has criticised the  target for lacking ambition compared its own climate goal in the transport sector. And the bioenergy lobby has criticised that pushing out food and feed crops-based biofuels would endanger these targets and lead to a stagnation of renewable energy in transport. Nevertheless, the BMU remains adamant that “promotion of biofuels […] paid for at the pump by the consumer must make a positive contribution to climate protection. This is not the case for many biofuels. For conventional biofuels, rapeseed or maize is grown on land that is not available for food”. Instead, only biofuels made from residual materials such as straw, manure or cooking oil are going to be promoted. Palm oil on the other hand will be completely phased-out by 2026.

Another line of criticism of the new greenhouse-gas reduction quota in transport has been the perceived focus on electric mobility, while other technologies such as hydrogen-based synthetic fuels were underfunded. But the BMU defended its decision to count the use of electricity in battery e-cars as double towards the RED II target, saying that the state could not be obliged to promote technologies that are “comparatively inefficient” in economic and ecological terms. “In the car sector, electric mobility is the most efficient alternative,” they said in a statement. The draft law still has to be approved by cabinet after which parliament and then the council of the 16 German states (Bundesrat) will have to pass the final bill.

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