The Palm Scribe

European Union Says Its Renewable Energy Directive Open to Outside Contribution

The European Union Renewable Energy Directive, which has been criticized as being in contravention of international trade laws, remains open and transparent in its decision making process and also involves consultation with other stakeholders outside the union, including producers like Indonesia, an EU representative said here Thursday (01/11)
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The directive, better known as RED, is currently being modified as RED 2 and critics, especially from vegetable oil producing countries like Indonesia, say it is discriminative against palm oil and is based on scientific premises that were not yet internationally accepted.

“The decision making process is open and transparent, the commission has consulted and will continue to consult, Indonesian experts and stakeholders and we will welcome and consider any quantitative information that Indonesia is willing to disclose,” EU Ambassador to Indonesia and Brunei, Vincent Guerend, said addressing the 14th Indonesian Palm Oil Conference (IPOC 2018). He added that citizens and stakeholders can contribute through policy and lawmaking process.

“The objective here is to work together towards sustainability and the EU wants to work for hand and hand with Indonesia in this endeavor,” he said.

However, Guerendsaid that while the European Union is committed to consulting scientist from various countries to prepare the RED 2,  eventually the final decision will remain in the hands of the European Union.

“The ultimate objective of the European Union is to achieve a largely decarbonized economy by 2050,” he said, adding that “the Union wanted to increase the efforts by its transport sector towards a reduction in Greenhouse gas emission.”

Guerendsaid that The EU actions that are related to the RED are based on “scientific evidence and understanding of the impacts.” Under the proposed RED 2, there would be a classification of vegetable oil into those which has a high probability of causing Indirect Land Usage Change and those with low probability.  Food-based oils, including palm oil, are categorized in the high probability category and therefore would see its access to the European Union restricted.

Mahendra Siregar, the chairman of the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC) challenged the “scientific” side used in formulating the RED2.

“This directive, this policy, is based on a controversial module, ILUC. First it is not internationally acceptable, has been in use in the United States and in Europe, and secondly, it has at least seven methodological results which produce seven results. This means that scientifically, it is doubtful methodologically,” he said.

Mahendra also pointed out that the priorities of the European Union and those of countries producing vegetable oils, generally developing nations, were different.  The differences in background between advanced European Union and developing countries will result in a different conclusion, he said.

“It is important to underline that developing nations would have different priorities, trajectories, then what the Ambassador talked about,” Mahendra said,.

Responding to this, Guerendstressed that the European Union was not against palm oil. He stressed that the European Union was currently the second export market for Indonesian palm oil and palm oil products and that basically, the trade has been ascending.

“The EU market is big and very open and we intend to remain so,” he said.

He also pointed out that 22 percent of Indonesian palm oil entering the EU market was doing so under zero duty, 64 percent with duty below 5 percent and the rest with between 5 and 10 percent.

Guerendalso said that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been adopted by the entire world community.

“There are differences in priorities, but the underpinning values should not be different and I strongly believe that all can work together,” he said.

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