In a recent European Voice editorial “Oil deals a helpful blow to biofuel policy” (22/01/15) Ms. Jeanette Minns makes some rather unusual claims about Europe’s biofuels policy. In her editorial Ms. Minns celebrates low oil prices: claiming these oil price drops will kill the EU biofuels policy while simultaneously supporting the emergence of an advanced biofuels industry.
ePURE represents both conventional and advanced bioethanol producers. We therefore totally refute any notion that killing EU biofuels policy could support the emergence of advanced biofuels when it is actually advanced biofuels that need binding policy support mechanisms. Lower oil prices if anything can only damage the take up of advanced biofuels due in large part to the massive subsidises already given to the oil industry.
There is no reason to applaud low oil prices. Falling prices will ultimately lead to increased oil use and GHG emissions in Europe. This is totally counter productive to achieving Europe’s 2020+ climate and energy goals. Transport in Europe is already 95% dependent on oil which underlines the need to find and use more sustainable alternatives. With average GHG savings of 60% compared to fossil fuels, European ethanol is one of these alternatives.
Ms. Minns claims that EU biofuels policy has only served to benefit farmers outside of Europe. This couldn’t be further from the truth: over 90% of the crops used to produce ethanol in Europe, is grown in Europe by European farmers. We now employ 50,000 people in mostly rural areas, bringing investment into areas of Europe that need it the most. Evidence from the World Bank, UN FAO, UN IPCC and others, shows that many negative claims about biofuels have been largely unfounded or exaggerated.
We need to move beyond an emotional debate about biofuels. We need to discuss how Europe can best promote the very best biofuels. Ms. Minns is wrong to think that advanced biofuels will commercially deploy on the basis of low oil prices, when it is abundantely clear that advanced biofuels need specific, dedicated policy support. Such a debate must be pragmatic, forward looking and find realistic solutions, such as mitigation, that will pull biofuels policy in the right direction.
European renewable ethanol association (ePURE)