The Commission made public on Tuesday a decision taken last week to endorse the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil scheme, which means the palm oil producers it licenses can qualify for subsidies.
“Palm oil is driving deforestation, wildlife loss, community conflicts, and accelerating climate change. Instead of greenwashing palm oil, the EU should outright ban its use as a biofuel,” said Robbie Blake, biofuels campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe.
Concern that some biofuels create more problems than they solve led to a major policy shift in September when the EU executive announced a proposal to limit how much biodiesel and bioethanol could be made from food crops.
Last month, it announced new rules to encourage a shift away from first-generation biofuels, blamed for stoking food price inflation, forcing forest clearance and draining of peat land. The aim is to move towards a second generation of fuels made from waste or algae, for instance.
The Commission’s own research has shown palm oil has the highest emissions of any biofuel when so-called ILUC factors – the indirect land use change caused by using it for fuel – are considered.