‘EU wants to use biodiesel and put palm oil into it’

An Irish policy analyst is currently preparing to participate in a campaign against an EU directive that allows for use of palm oil in biodiesel.

James Cogan, a policy analyst at Ethanol Europe, has raised concerns over EU legislation – under the Renewable Energy Directive – which he says was recently “rushed through” the EU Commission.

“For the last couple of years everyone in Brussels has been focused on the Renewable Energy Directive 2020-2030; the hugely important part of that is bioenergy mass – good bioenergy and bad bioenergy – and the use of plants that encourages deforestation in renewable energy,” Cogan said.

Ethanol Europe aims to advance the bioeconomy in ways that benefit both the global climate and rural communities. The company is dedicated to supplying verified sustainable bioproducts into European markets.

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) conversion of rainforest into plantations also contributes to climate change “as the process releases high amounts of carbon emissions into the air.

It also states that to produce palm oil the fruit is collected from trees that can live an average of 28 to 30 years.

The WWF added: “When the tress grow too high this makes it difficult to reach the fruit and so they are cut down to make room for new trees. This is contributing to deforestation of the rainforest.”

Meanwhile, Cogan claims that the EU has been using 5% to 10% of palm oil in diesel and claims that “everyone knew this was going on”.

He went on to say that the problem now is, that if a low-grade fuel that is good for the environment is produced, the market will then become flooded with bad product.

WWF says that currently, and in an effort to keep up with the incredibly high demand for the cheaply produced palm oil, acres of rainforest are being cut down leading to a loss of animal habitat for endangered species.

It states that over the last 16 years, “the quest for palm oil” has led to the death of an estimated 100,000 orangutans.

It points out too that other animals – such as elephants, rhinos and tigers – are also at risk.


Cogan, meanwhile, points to the the new EU legislation on renewable energy which, he says, “endeavours” on the one hand to stop palm oil “flooding the market”, but on the other hand, “opens up a new loophole” that allows for the use of palm oil in diesel.

The EU wants to use biodiesel and put palm oil into it.

Cogan added: “Italy, France and Germany use a lot of palm oil, so if this new law were to reduce the amount of palm oil diesel coming onto the market, the domestic market would become more robust.

“Palm oil diesel, however, would be horrific for the climate,” he warned.

He went on to say that the recently signed revised Renewable Energy Directive is supposed to include measures to deter and cut use of damaging palm diesel.

Cogan also pointed out that the new directive provided for the addition of a ‘delegated regulation’ to address such biofuels which come with a high risk of Indirect Land Use Change  (ILUC).

He confirmed that a draft of the ‘delegated regulation’ was published by the Commission in February and correctly identified palm oil diesel as being high risk.

“I don’t believe either that there are serious trade negotiations going on where someone is saying if you don’t buy any more palm oil from us we will stop importing your cars, for example. Also, EU biodiesel has already destroyed orangutans, birds and insects.”

Cogan says the Irish Government should be in Brussels shouting “no way are we having this in the legislation” in response to biodiesel and the use of palm oil.

His company is part of the lobby group Farm Europe which focuses on green energy, biofuels and farming issues.

“We plan to launch a rejection campaign to the use of palm oil in biodiesel and will fight it every step of the way,” he said.

National Energy and Climate Plan

Meanwhile, in a separate development under EU law, Ireland was required to produce a draft National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) to chart how the country would grow sustainably in the years to come.

This plan was launched by the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, Richard Bruton, last December.

The plan aims to reduce Ireland’s carbon emissions by 22 metric tonnes and promises to increase the country’s renewable power generation from 30% nationally, to at least 55% through solar, wind and biomass energy generation.

Also included is the removal of peat and coal for electricity generation.