EU Lawmakers Vote to Blacklist Soy Biodiesel Over Sustainability 

The European Parliament’s industry committee has voted to restrict soy oil as a feedstock for biofuel production. 

The move comes amid concerns over the environmental impact of soy cultivations in countries outside of Europe, which is where the vast majority of soybeans used in biodiesel production come from. Soy cultivation is a massive cause of deforestation. 

Restricting soy oil puts the crop on the same footing as palm oil within the European Union. 

Some 73 percent of soybeans used to produce soy biodiesel are imported to Europe from South America, where deforestation is a huge concern. 

EU lawmakers in the committee also want to bring forward the start date of the phase-out for both palm and soy oil. Currently, it is set for 2030. Lawmakers want this to be brought forward to as soon as the directive enters into force, possibly as soon as 2023. 

The decision comes alongside an updated committee position on the renewable energy directive. Provisions include an increased greenhouse gas emissions reduction target for the transportation sector of 16 percent and a goal of 45 percent renewable energy by 2030. 

Last year, the tabled proposal had greenhouse gas emission reduction targets at 13 percent, and renewable energy goals at 40 percent. So the new position is stronger on both. 

The updated 45 percent renewables target comes in response to Russia’s war in Ukraine. The committee voted in favor of an EU-wide objective to more than double the bloc’s production of renewable energy, which hovers around 22 percent currently, to 45 percent in 2030. 

The committee’s position is not yet law. It must first be approved by the full European Parliament. The vote is set for the plenary session in September in Strasbourg, Germany. 

The moves are victories for environmental campaigners and experts, who say much more needs to be done in order to stave off the worst of climate change. 

While environmental campaigners had their sights set on banning soy oil after palm oil, other limits for first-generation biofuels were left untouched. 

The committee also maintained a rule that says member states cannot go beyond a one percentage point increase in biofuel usage compared to the 2020 national share of these fuels in rail and road transport. 

The European Biodiesel Board was mostly positive about the committee’s position. It said the vote was a “step in the right direction,” and that it “confirmed the role of biodiesel from all sustainable feedstocks to reach the EU climate objectives.” 

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