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Do we need a biofuel police?

At the Transport and Energy Council on Thursday (30 May), France, Germany and the Netherlands called the European Commission to launch controls in third countries to reinforce measures against imports of fraudulent biofuels. 

The Hague, Berlin and Paris urged the bloc’s executive to intensify the ongoing investigation on Chinese biodiesel exports to the EU and take “strong corrective actions to prevent the entry of fraudulent biofuels,” a note of the three delegations seen by Euractiv states. 

The three-member states proposed strengthening controls on production plants “wherever they are located in the world.” If operations do not accept the EU officials’ inspection, authorities should refuse the biofuel sustainability certification, preventing exports to the EU from that plant, the delegations proposed.

A biofuel police is an unprecedented proposal to tackle fraud in used cooked oils imports, one of the unintended consequences of the EU and global efforts to make aviation and transport more sustainable.  

Used Cooking Oil (UCO) is one of the simplest raw material to produce advanced biofuels, meaning those not obtained from feed and food crops.

And it was one of the cheapest options: according to data collected from the agricultural think tank Farm Europe, in 2017 a ton costed €800, while in 2022 the price had reached €1400 per ton. 

It’s the effect of a skyrocketing demand pushed by the race to produce sustainable aviation fuels. According to a recent report of the NGO Transport & Environment,  European UCO  consumption more than doubled in 2015-22.  

Nearly 80% of those products used in EU planes, trucks and cars, is imported, and 60% of the imports are from China.  

High demand has already triggered frauds, on which the EU and national authorities are investigating. Labelling normal vegetable oil (such as palm oil) as used oil, is the easiest way to take advantage of strong demand and inflated price. 

This has a double impact: biofuel from crops replace those made from waste, neutralising the intended benefits for climate and environment, and third countries companies compete unfairly with the EU ones.  

“[We] hope that the European Commission will follow up”, Farm Europe stated in an email supporting the initiative of Germany, France and the Netherlands.  

Among other recommendations, the agricultural think tank calls for “suspending imports from third countries suspected of fraud,” in “particular China” and strengthening the EU certification mechanism…

By Angelo Di Mambro | Euractiv

About İsmail Uğural

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