The Palm Scribe

EU position on Palm Oil unlikely to change: Indonesian Diplomat

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The European Commission is currently canvassing inputs and opinions on a draft proposal it had issued for a Delegated Act on sustainability criteria of biofuels, but the likeliness of it leading to a change in the European Union position on palm oil was very thin, an Indonesian diplomat said.

“The likeliness of the EU changing its position on palm oil which it already deems as high risk-ILUC (Indirect Land Use Change) is very small,” the Brussel-based diplomat said in an e-mailed answer to queries from The Palm Scribe.

Indonesia has criticized the use of the ILUC risk as a criteria, saying that it was not only discriminatorily, but was also a criteria that was mostly not recognized outside of the European Union and the United States. Indonesian officials have also said that Jakarta planned to challenge the EU’s restriction on the use of palm-oil based biofuels based on the method used to define its sustainability to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

“There are no clarity nor explanation on information related to the variables used in the formula to calculate the high indirect land use change risk, the one related to the productivity factor variable used in the stated formula,” the Indonesian diplomat said.

Lynn Rietdorf, European Commission Press officer for Climate Action and Energy, in an email to The Palm Scribe, said that the draft Delegated Act sets out specific criteria for determining the high ILUC-risk feedstock for which a significant expansion of the production area into land with high carbon stock is observed.

Rietdorf referred to an Annex for the said clarification but the Indonesian diplomat said the variable in the formula as contained in the Annex was clearly discriminatory.

The variable, the diplomat said, “Directly and explicitly discriminates against palm oil because the figure set for palm oil is already in excess to the low-risk ILUC category threshold.”

He added that the Annex already sets the average annual expansion of production area since 2008 for palm oil at four percent and its share of expansion into high carbon land at 18 percent.

The draft Delegated Act determines the level of ILUC risk based on the expansion of cultivated area into land with high carbon stock, with the average annual production area expansion since 2008 at higher than one percent for high ILUC risk and affecting more than 100,000 hectares. The share of such expansion into land with high-carbon stock is higher than 10 percent for the high ILUC risk feedstock.

The diplomat also said that there was also the view that the preparation of the Delegated Act appeared to not have been optimal as shown by the EU statement that said the draft Delegated Act was not supported by an impact assessment.

“The consultation mechanism for the formulation of the draft Delegated Act, with palm oil stakeholders in the European Union and producers, is deemed as having been met through the EU expert stakeholder workshop on December 19, 2018, even though not all stakeholders were present and there was no clear reference in the Delegated Act of the input,” from such consultation, he added.

The consultation period for the draft will end on March 8, 2019.

The EU revised Renewable Energy Directive establishes an overall policy for the promotion and use of energy from renewable sources in the European Union. It sets limits on high ILUC-risk biofuels, bio-liquids and biomass fuels with a significant expansion in a land with high carbon stock.

The limits will affect the amount of these fuels that the Member States can count when calculating the overall national share of renewables and the share of renewables in transport. These limits consist of a freeze at 2019 levels for the period 2021-2023, which will gradually decrease as of 31 December 2023 to zero by 2030.

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