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Hidden intentions behind pressure to drop biofuel mandates in the CEE countries

Date

26 Mar 2020

Sections

Agriculture & Food
Biofuels stakeholders from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia call out proposals to reduce biofuel mandates as destructive for people, the economy and the climate
Although the European Union committed to phase out subsidies for fossil fuels by 2020, one spectacular last subsidy is now in the works in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).
 
In some CEE Member States, governments are now considering suspending, or have already suspended, biofuel blending mandates as a response, suggested by parties unnamed, to the current crisis, a crisis that threatens to reduce demand for liquid fuels to 50%. 
 
"Suspending biofuel mandates" is a polite way of saying "substituting oil for biofuels." With a decline in overall liquid fuel demand, demand for biofuels will fall by an equivalent amount without any government action, which is already a problem for Europe's economies. Worsening that situation by de facto banning biofuels in favor of oil is daft. 
 
Every ton of oil that replaces biofuels in the CEE region (where oil is imported and biofuel is produced from local crops) means:
  • job losses will be multiplied severely—the per liter number of jobs supported by biofuels is 2-5 times greater for biorefineries than for oil refineries;
  • since our biofuels have average GHG savings of >65%, climate progress will be reversed
  • dramatic drops in farmers’ incomes;
  • and a ton of high protein GMO-free animal feed will never be produced, animal feed that is today vital to ensure Europe's food self-sufficiency, in particular in dairy, eggs and meat production.
Summarizing all of the above, a ton of biofuel refused by a fuel blender sets in motion a cascade of economic dominoes deepening the crisis situation we already have —transportation contracts unfulfilled; farmers unable to sell their crops; feed suppliers to dairies defaulting on their supply contracts; food companies facing shortages; higher prices or shortages in stores.
 
For the security of jobs, food and climate, reducing demand for CEE biofuels is indefensible. Indeed, if policymakers should instead require that CEE fuel suppliers for the duration of the crisis blend biofuels in the maximum amounts permitted by prevailing fuel standards. It’s the time to maximize the option of using local EU production to mitigate the economic crisis: biofuels are an integral part of protecting our energy and food security.

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