The Oil Palm

The Brussels Biofuels Debate, Part III: MEP Vidal-Quadras Scraps ‘Deficient’ ILUC Factors From Commission’s Proposal

Spanish MEP and Draftsman for the influential Industry, Research and Energy Committee (ITRE), Alejo Vidal-Quadras, has dismissed the European Commission’s proposal to introduce Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) factors as part of therevision of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED).

MEP Vidal-Quadras’ report, submitted to the ITRE Committee in the European Parliament, states that, ‘not enough scientific evidence is available to introduce ILUC factors into EU legislation’ and recognizes that the introduction of an arbitrary ILUC factor would compromise the survival of the European biofuels industry and undermine the European Union’s greenhouse gas reduction targets. MEP Quadras points out that ILUC is an untested science and that calculations remain, ‘vulnerable to the deficiencies and limits of themodels used to give a specific value of emissions derived from ILUC to the different types of crops’.

The Report produced by MEP Vidal-Quadras outlines a far more constructive approach to biofuels policy. Instead of discriminating against first generation and foreign-sourced biofuels like palm oil, MEP Quadras scraps the arbitrary target set by the European Commission and reprimands the Commission for overlooking increased yield performance and production of co-products in biofuel production when analyzing GHG emissions. These are two areas where the oil palm industry offers considerable advantages compared to other biofuel feedstock. The Malaysian palm oil industry can be supportive of MEP Vidal-Quadras’ report,which is practical and removes much of the most discriminatory aspects.

ILUC is not based on sound scientific evidence and cannot underpin a predictableregulatory framework that businesses and importers require. MEP Quadras’ recognition of the deficiencies and limits of the ILUC model is welcome, and should instruct not only the current revision of RED, but all future legislative proposals by the European Commission on biofuels. Other MEPs, including French MEP Corinne Lepage, are still seeking to introduce arbitrary factors on imported products under the false pretext of improving ‘sustainability’. This is dishonest and discriminatory, and it is welcome that other European politicians such as MEP Vidal-Quadras are aware of the realities of international trade, and are prepared to criticize the anti-scientitic nature of ILUC.