Biodiesel accounts for 80% of all biofuels used in the European Union, and around a third of this comes from palm oil, making drivers of cars and trucks the biggest consumers of palm oil in the bloc. The remaining 20% is bioethanol, which is mainly made from home-grown crops such as sugar beet and wheat.
Beyond the impact of EU biofuels policy on climate change, the scientists also criticised it for driving habitat and biodiversity loss, reducing areas’ resilience to local climatic conditions, undermining food security and increasing prices, and concentrating land in the hands of multinational companies at the expense of small-scale farmers.
“In short, a mixture of fuel crop oil relies on the unfounded assumption that this leads to more sustainable fuel use, but in reality causes ecological and social degradation,” the scientists wrote. “The policy serves as a veil that obscures the risks involved in fossil fuels while offering no more than a false solution for our energy requirements.”
The 177 signatories called on the Dutch government to acknowledge the damage caused by EU biofuels policy and to write a commitment to abandon them into the bloc’s 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
The EU encouraged the blending of fossil and biofuels in the 2009 Renewable Energy Directive, in a bid to cut greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector, and the current limit of crop-based biofuels in the transport energy mix stands at 7%. But studies of the impacts of land-use change associated with biofuels, and particularly biodiesel, have found in many cases that they are worse overall for the climate than fossil fuels.