France’s Constitutional Council, the highest constitutional authority in the country, ruled in favor of excluding palm oil from the list of biofuels that enjoy tax incentives. The decision enters into force on 1 January, 2020. Oil company Total has estimated it is worth between €70 million and €80 million per year.
In March, the European Commission decided that palm oil is not a green fuel and should not be promoted because it causes deforestation. The use of palm oil in diesel, which is driven by the EU’s renewable energy targets across the continent, will be gradually reduced as of 2023 and should reach zero in 2030, although exemptions remain.
The EU is the second largest importer of crude palm oil in the world. Europeans are increasingly eating less and less palm oil and instead are inadvertently burning more and more in cars and trucks. Last year, more than half (53%) of all palm imports were used to make biodiesel for cars and trucks—an all-time high.
According to the latest Commission study on deforestation and biofuels, 45% of global palm oil expansion has caused deforestation.
This ruling affirms the European Commission’s decision that palm oil diesel be labelled as unsustainable and consequently should not be promoted. We urge other European countries to follow France’s lead and stop forcing drivers to pay for fake ‘green’ fuels that destroy the world’s rainforests and their wildlife.—Laura Buffet, clean fuels director with the European NGO federation Transport & Environment (T&E)