Biofuels in Europe are struggling to meet the most basic thresholds for sustainability, according to the Times of London, which claims to have seen a government study that shows fossil fuels are better for the environment than “green fuels” made from crops.
The findings show that the United Kingdom’s biofuels mandate would result in millions of acres of forest being logged or burnt down and converted to plantations.
The study finds that some of the most basic crops used to make biofuels fail to meet the minimum sustainability standard set by the European Commission.
Less strict than the U.S. Renewable Portfolio Standard2 (in most cases), the standard calls for biofuels to reduce emissions by at least 35 percent compared with its fossil fuel equivalent. The study shows that palm oil increases emissions by 31 percent due to clearing of forests and grassland for plantations.
A leaked internal memo from the European Commission, which has proposed to declare palm plantations sustainable if they come from “continuously forested area,” suggests that governments are aiming to ramp up biofuels production seemingly at any cost.
According to the article, last year, 127 million liters of palm oil was added to diesel sold to motorists in the United Kingdom, including 64 million liters from Malaysia and 27 million liters from Indonesia.
The expansion of the palm industry in Indonesia has turned it into the third-largest CO2 emitter in the world, after China and the United States.