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UNICA regrets the Commission’s black and white approach to biofuels in the Communication on low-emission mobility

BRUSSELS/SÃO PAULO – 20 July, 2016. Today the European Commission published a Communication on low-emission mobility which lays down its vision and strategy for transport over the next few decades. While the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) acknowledges the Commission’s clear support signal towards advanced biofuels – as they certainly represent one way forward to decarbonize transport – it is also deeply concerned about the gradual phase out of first-generation biofuels.  As the Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) Directive last year, this approach discriminates against all first-generation biofuels regardless of their actual GHG emission reductions. Such a U-turn only creates legislative instability and confusion for investors and does not help the EU in achieving its ambitious climate targets.

“By refusing to take into consideration the concrete positive impacts of ethanol produced from sugarcane, the proposal effectively turns a blind eye to one of the cleanest alternatives on the market today” said UNICA President Elizabeth Farina.

Unlike other first-generation biofuels, sugarcane ethanol is one of the best performers in terms of GHG emissions reduction, even when indirect land-use change is considered. Moreover, Brazilian sugarcane ethanol does not face the alleged food vs. energy dilemma since, according to recent studies, including by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI, 2016), it has a negligible impact on food prices. Other countries are also looking at reducing their emissions from transports. Brazil, for instance, has replaced 45% of its gasoline consumption with sugarcane ethanol and the United States classified this specific biofuel as an advanced alternative.

“By progressively eliminating first-generation biofuels, the Commission does not solve the problem of emissions from the 94% of energy in transport which will still be coming from liquid fuels in 2030” said Géraldine Kutas, Head of Public Affairs at UNICA.

UNICA hopes that the assessment of the impact of a gradual phasing-out of first-generation biofuels takes into account the investment already made by the industry. The development of advanced biofuels would depend on a healthy conventional biofuel industry, which is going to face great instability and economic losses in the years to come due to the regulatory shift generated by the ILUC Directive first and this strategy now.

The discriminatory approach towards first generation biofuels makes this Communication on low-emission mobility a missed opportunity.

Now, UNICA looks forward to the opportunity to maintain a fruitful and constructive dialogue with the Commission in the upcoming phase towards the new Renewable Directive and a new policy for sustainable bioenergy and biofuels for the period post-2020.

UNICA is the leading trade association for the sugarcane industry in Brazil, representing 60 percent of the country’s sugarcane production and processing. UNICA’s priorities include serving as a source for credible information and analysis about the efficiency and sustainability of sugarcane products, particularly ethanol. The association works to encourage the continuous advancement of sustainable practices throughout the sugarcane industry and to promote sugarcane-based biofuels as a clean, reliable and renewable alternative to fossil fuels.


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