A proposal made by a German federal minister suggests that global food-supply shortages could be eliminated by limiting the domestic production of biofuels, the German Bioethanol Industry Association (BDBe) has said.
The German Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection, Steffi Lemke proposed to reduce the share of biofuels in the transport sector.
The use of biofuels was already severely restricted due to the revised 2030 reduction quota for greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions. A reduction would also impact the production of domestic animal feed.
The BDBe criticised:
“Using the Ukraine war and the associated price increases on global agricultural markets as justification to cut the upper limit for biofuel use in half again is only logical at first glance.”
The quality of domestic feed grain, which is processed into bioethanol, is not suitable for human consumption, the BDBe said, and the production only accounts for a small share of the grain harvest.
The association added that grains are not cultivated specifically for fuel production.
Co-products, including high-quality and protein-rich animal feed, are derived during the production of bioethanol, which are vital for domestic livestock farmers and thus increase food security.
Chair of the BDBe Norbert Schindler explained that every tonne of ethanol represents an equal amount of animal feed, as well as biogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) for the food sector or organic fertiliser for agriculture.
Proposals by the federal minister to reduce the share of biofuels in transport will increase GHG emissions by about 80 million tonnes of CO2 by 2030, according to the association.
The BDBe said that replacing the positive environmental contribution of biofuels in the short and medium term is impossible from today’s perspective.
BDBe chair Schindler said that the federal minister is creating a “giant void” in climate-change mitigation. He explained:
“The proposal would drastically lower the cap for sustainable biofuels made from cultivated biomass, thereby limiting the only possibility currently available to reduce CO2 emissions in road transport.”
Currently, biofuels account for 98% of renewable energy used in the transport sector and reduce CO2 emissions by about 13 million tonnes per year, according to the association.
Biofuels currently replace 4.5 million tonnes of fossil fuels, therefore not using biofuels will lead to greater dependence on oil imports which threaten energy security, according to Schindler.
This will also result in even higher fuel prices, the chair said, as fossil petrol and diesel will have to compensate for biofuel losses.
Bioethanol, according to the association, is a relatively inexpensive way of reducing GHG emissions in the transport sector as it is not subject to the carbon price.
“Since ethanol is also used as a basic chemical throughout Europe and no longer originates from fossil sources, plans by the federal minister also threaten supply and production chains in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries,” the chair added.