Malaysian Palm Oil Council

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EU Exclusion of Palm-based Bioenergy Will Fail Its Ambitions to Decarbonise

Increasing the use of sustainable bioenergy is the most effective way to reduce the carbon intensity of fuels for the transport and energy sectors in the European Union.

Wastes and residues from agricultural activities have the best potential to deliver zero-emissions energy as traditional sources of farm emissions from the biodegradation of farm wastes are converted into renewable sources of energy.

The European Union, in its drive to decarbonise, has opened a new session for public input into sustainable biofuels and biogases:

“Sustainable biofuels and biogases are important to increase the share of renewable energy in sectors that are difficult to decarbonise, such as the aviation and maritime sector.

There is an approved list of sustainable biofuel feedstocks in Annex IX (Parts A and B) to this regulation. The Commission must regularly review the list and add any feedstocks to the Annex that meet the criteria set out in Article 28(6).”

The Malaysian Palm Oil Council notes with concern, that an assessment of feedstocks awarded by The European Commission (DG ENER) under Tender ENER/C1/2019-412 to a consortium composed of E4tech (Lead), Cerulogy, the ICCT, Navigant, SCS Global Services and Wageningen University which purported to assist the European Commission in the evaluation of feedstocks, could provide the EU with a poorly informed decision to exclude bioenergy from palm-based waste sources.

While the MPOC applauds the EU recognition of bioenergy towards the decarbonisation of the EU, the MPOC is appalled by the extreme discrimination displayed by the EU, against bioenergy sources derived from palm.

The fight against climate change demands that all resources be used, as long as there is clear scientific evidence of their efficacy to reducing emissions for transport and energy. Evidence from palm oil producing countries have proved that palm-based bioenergy, is an efficient resource towards the decarbonisation of economies in both producer and user countries.

While bioenergy from first generation sources of palm oil continues to be debated, the MPOC finds the assessment of agricultural waste and residue feedstocks to be in need of urgent review as the current assessment is deeply flawed as evidenced by these points.

  1. The Assessment categorically excluded any feedstock with a direct connection to palm oil, based on information that is political rather than the stated ecological mission to reduce the EU’s emissions. Palm based feedstocks in POME, palm sludge oil, are clearly waste residues from agricultural activities that are not fit for use in the food or feed chain. These are evidenced waste products that will not cause market distortions or create additional demand for land and should not be arbitrarily excluded.
  2. The Assessment is clearly flawed when it classifies molasses as a renewable, carbon-free feedstock for biofuel when EU food producers have warned that the inclusion of molasses as renewable energy will severely hamper the production of yeast, a key element in preparing bread, beer, and wine, European yeast producers have warned. The same applies to olive pomace, which The Assessment recommended further investigation despite the fact that olive pomace oil is widely produced as an edible oil for consumers.
  3. The endorsement of UCOs by the EU and The Assessment fails to acknowledge two critical problems.
  4. For one, there is not enough verified sources of clean UCOs to support the EU’s ambition for UCOs to play a main role in reducing transport and energy emissions.
  5. For two, UCOs from the EU’s biggest source in China, potentially contains much more Latin American soy than palm oil, making it impossible to trace sources down to plantation,
  6. In contrast to this. palm based sources of bioenergy from productions wastes and residues in POME and sludge oil, offer a superior level of transparency and traceability that is unmatchable by any of the feedstocks listed in Annex IX.

Palm oil wastes and residues must be included in any considerations of the European Union, to decarbonise through bioenergy. There is more than enough scientific evidence to prove that farm wastes from palm oil production, is a feedstock that the EU needs, in order to meet its goals for the decarbonisation of its transport and energy sectors.

The Malaysian Palm Oil Council has presented its arguments to the European Commission through its public consultations initiative which closes Jan 02, 2022. The MPOC intends to challenge the recommendations of the consortium under EU Commission Tender ENER/C1/2019-412 should this flawed report be used as an excuse by the European Union to further deny the palm oil industry of its rightful place in global sustainability.

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