Major Italian oil company fined €5 million for adverts greenwashing diesel made from palm oil
Italian oil giant Eni has been fined €5 million over its greenwashing of palm-oil based diesel as ‘green’. It ran a major marketing campaign to con consumers into mistakenly believing its ‘Eni Diesel+’ had a positive impact on the environment. T&E and an Italian environmental organisation had complained about the adverts. The ruling and fine deliver a blow to attempts by fossil fuel companies to portray biofuels to politicians as a way to decarbonise transport. In practice, diesel made from any sort of food crop causes deforestation due to indirect land use change (ILUC) impacts. Use of palm oil drives destruction of rainforests and wildlife, and EC data shows biodiesel from palm oil is 3 times worse for the climate than regular diesel when ILUC is accounted for. In March 2019 the EU ruled that the use of palm oil in diesel will be gradually reduced from 2023 and should reach zero in 2030, with some exemptions. But palm oil producing countries like Malaysia and Indonesia are pushing hard for palm oil to be used to produce jet fuel, with the pretence that it is lower carbon than conventional fuel.
Oil major slapped with €5m fine for greenwashing palm oil diesel
Italian oil giant Eni has been slapped with a €5 million fine over its greenwashing of palm-oil based diesel as ‘green’. The company ran a major marketing campaign that deceived consumers by claiming its ‘Eni Diesel+’ has a positive impact on the environment, Italy’s advertising watchdog ruled this week.
By Eoin Bannon (Transport & Environment)
January 16, 2020
In a landmark ruling against greenwashing, the Italy’s Competition and Market Authority (all’Autorità Garante per la Concorrenza e il Mercato) imposed the highest possible fine on the state-backed energy company.
The agency told Eni not to use the advertisement again after a complaint was lodged by Italy’s consumer organisation Movimento Difesa del Cittadino, environmental NGO Legambiente, and T&E. The oil company has been running ads on TV, radio, in cinemas, fuel stations, print and online platforms since 2016. Official estimates found it cost between €5m and €15m.
T&E said the authority’s decision delivers a blow to attempts by fossil fuel companies to portray biofuels to politicians as a way to decarbonise transport.
Veronica Aneris, T&E’s Italy manager, said: ‘There is no such thing as green diesel made from palm oil or any other food crop because they cause deforestation. Oil companies need to stop trying to mislead drivers and politicians with the fake claim that biodiesel protects the environment and our health. Instead they should invest in proper clean fuels such as renewable electricity. The government should push oil companies to do their fair share to decarbonise the economy.’
The Eni Diesel+ fuel is 15% composed of HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil) from Eni’s Venice refinery. This ENI refinery makes HVO from crude palm oil and its derivatives, as shown by official data from the governmental energy agency Gestore Servizi Energetici.
The watchdog ruling states that ‘it’s particularly deceitful to use the denomination “Green Diesel’ and the qualifications ‘green’ and ‘renewable’ to refer to the HVO component of the product’. This is mainly because of the indirect land-use change emissions associated with palm oil use. It also argues that there’s no justification or calculation that justifies the 40% reduction in air pollution.
Palm oil is known to be an important driver of the destruction of rainforests and wildlife. According to a study for the European Commission, biodiesel from palm oil is three times worse for the climate than regular diesel when indirect emissions from changes in the use of land are accounted for.
Italian green NGOs are urging the government to stop incentives for the use of palm oil in diesel, and over 50,000 Italians have already requested it at www.change.org/unpienodipalle.
Italy is the second largest palm oil biodiesel producer in the European Union. More than half (54%) of all palm oil and derivatives imported into Italy in 2018 was used to make biodiesel, mainly at Eni’s refinery at Porto Marghera, Venice.
The palm oil comes predominantly from Indonesia and, to a lesser extent, from Malaysia, two countries with notable deforestation rates in the past two decades.
Last March, the EU decided that palm oil is not a green fuel and should not be promoted because it causes deforestation. The use of palm oil in diesel will be gradually reduced from 2023 and should reach zero in 2030, with some exemptions. Thus, Italy, like any other EU country, can amend today the national targets for renewable energy in transport to remove incentives for using palm oil and its derivatives in biodiesel.
Palm oil may be blended in jet fuel as study shows suitable
April 16th, 2019
by AFIQ AZIZ (The Malaysian Reserve)
There are technologies currently available to produce biojet fuel, through conversion of biological resources
THE aviation sector can play a crucial role in boosting Malaysian palm oil, which has been saddled with discrimination in the West, low prices and high inventory.
As debates are still ongoing on palm oil fuel for vehicles, the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) suggests that the commodity can be mixed into biojet fuel — a composition to be blended with the fossil-based aviation fuel.
MPOB DG Datuk Dr Ahmad Kushairi Din said there are technologies currently available to produce biojet fuel, through conversion of biological resources such as oil, fats, palm fatty acid distillate (PFAD), algae and biomass.
“These technologies are different from the conversion of oils or fats into biodiesel that is used in the transportation sector. The biojet fuel is to be blended with the fossil-based aviation fuel,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) via an email reply.
While PFAD has been accepted as feedstock for sustainable aviation fuel, works are underway for palm oil to be accepted as well.
Ahmad Kushairi said MPOB has conducted a collaborative study with an American company to identify and screen the suitable feedstock from palm for biojet fuel production.
“PFAD and palm oil have been tested under this study in Chicago, US, for pilot plant trials.
“Based on the study, both have shown good conversion into biojet fuel with by-products such as diesel, naphtha, propane and others. The study showed that PFAD and palm oil are suitable feedstock for biojet fuel,” he said.
“But what we can affirm is that Malaysian palm oil industry’s commitment in participating in the CORSIA implementation (reduce carbon dioxide, or CO2, emission from international aviation), by developing sustainable aviation fuel using PFAD, used cooking oil, oil palm biomass and algae,” he said.
The usage of palm oil in biojet fuel mix can reduce palm oil stocks which put a pinch on prices. Recent data from MPOB showed that in March 2019, end-stocks dropped 4.6% to 2.92 million tonnes from February 2019.
According to Ahmad Kushairi, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has adopted the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) to reduce greenhouse gas emission for the aviation sector.
One of the carbon offsetting measures is to use sustainable biojet fuel accredited under CORSIA.
“With the commitment of CORSIA, the minimum blending of biojet fuel is 2% starting 2027, and the approved blending could be up to 50%,” he highlighted.
Under CORSIA, all airline operators with annual emissions greater than 10,000 tonnes of CO2 are required to report their emissions on an annual basis, with monitoring starting in January 2019.
The CO2 offsetting requirements in CORSIA will be implemented in 2021 in phases with mandatory implementation to begin in 2027.
Ahmad Kushairi said MPOB is currently conducting a feasibility study on aviation fuel for the economy and its impact to airline operators, bearing in mind that any effort to protect the environment comes with a cost.
“For example, a Malaysia-based airline would require 60,000 tonnes per year of biojet fuel to meet the 2% blending ratio requirement,” he said.
Currently, there are more than 80 airlines operating to and from Malaysian airports nationwide.
Ahmad Kushairi said in the Asean region, there is no biojet fuel production plant at the moment.
Currently, European firm Neste Corp is producing green diesel (hydro-treated vegetable oil) from waste oil and vegetable oils at one million tonnes per year capacity. The company has also announced to invest an additional €1.4 billion (RM6.51 billion) for setting up the second bio-refinery plant in Singapore by 2023 for biojet fuel and green diesel production with a capacity of 1.3 million tonnes per year.
Indonesia and Malaysia, the world’s top two producers of the vegetable oil, have threatened to challenge the European Union in the World Trade Organisation over the economic bloc’s plan to ban palm oil-based biofuel by 2030.
To minimise impact and reduce stocks, Malaysia started rolling out the B10 biodiesel (a blend of 10% palm oil in diesel) for the transportation sector last month, while Indonesia has introduced B20 since 2016.
An industry player told TMR that the government should demand ICAO to accept palm oil as part of the biojet fuel blend.
“We could lose this competitive market to our neighbours if we do not address this now. Alternatively, we could mandate the use of biojet fuel domestically using palm oil as feedstock.
“This initiative will help to increase usage of palm oil without subject to the ICAO regulations,” the person said.
UN plans for aviation biofuels (ie. much from palm oil) & carbon offsets condemned by 89 organisations worldwide
89 organisations from 34 countries have called on the UN’s International Civil Aviation Agency (ICAO) to ditch plans for aviation biofuels and carbon offsets, as the Agency’s governing body convenes in Montreal to finalise proposals for a controversial “Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme”. An Open Letter by the groups warns that ICAO’s proposal could incentivise airlines to use large quantities of biofuels made from palm oil in order to meet greenhouse gas targets – even though member states rejected biofuel targets last autumn amidst concerns about palm oil. Proposed biofuel targets for aircraft were rejected by member states in October 2017, but groups fear that the proposed new rules will introduce large-scale biofuel use ‘by the backdoor’. On sustainability certification for palm oil, “none of the schemes has been effective at slowing down deforestation, peatland draining or the loss of biodiversity”. On carbon offsets, the organisations say “There is no way of reaching the goal to limit global warming to 1.5oC unless all states and sectors rapidly phase out their carbon emissions. This means that there can be no role for offsets”. Instead the growth of the aviation sector needs to be limited – rather than depending on greenwash.