UK Government

Renewable Fuels Agency: RFA reports on the impacts of the RTFO

Press Release   •   Jan 28, 2010 11:10 GMT

The Renewable Fuels Agency (RFA) today (28 January 2010) reported on the impacts of the biofuel supplied in the first year of the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO)1.

This confirms the RFA as the first regulator in the world to monitor and report verified information on the carbon and sustainability performance of biofuels.

Several fossil fuel suppliers are shown by the report to have failed to demonstrate the sustainability of their biofuels. Morgan Stanley and Topaz both missed all three Government performance targets, while Chevron, Murco and Topaz failed to report any fuel meeting the RTFO’s Environmental Qualifying Standard. As well as companies with poor results, there were several that failed to have their data verified to the RFA’s satisfaction. BP, Murco and Prax reported meeting at least one target, but as their data was not properly assured the RFA could not confirm this.

At the other end of the scale, ConocoPhillips, Greenergy and Mabanaft are identified for meeting all three Government targets. ConocoPhillips and Mabanaft sourced feedstock certified to the British ‘ACCS’ sustainability standard, Greenergy undertook independent sustainability audits of Brazilian sugar cane and Mabanaft and Greenergy supplied much of their fuel from wastes and by products. There are also a large number of companies supplying only biofuels and meeting all three sustainability targets – this includes all companies supplying biodiesel from used cooking oil.

The RFA’s CEO Nick Goodall said, “We have seen many companies meeting the challenge of sourcing their biofuels responsibly. However, too many are lagging behind and dragging overall performance down. With mandatory sustainability criteria due to be introduced by the end of 2010, companies like Morgan Stanley and Topaz need to make a step change in performance.”

The report also follows up on the Agency's 'Gallagher Review', which called for indirect effects of biofuels to be addressed, by proposing a new methodology to identify biofuels with a low risk of causing indirect land use change (iLUC). The study identifies example cases where iLUC could be avoided, including:

• Palm cultivation on underutilised but fertile low value grassland in Indonesia;

• Reducing land demand for cattle pasture by integrating cattle with soy or sugar cane plantations in Brazil;

• Taking simple measures to improve yields for sugar cane in the Philippines and palm oil in Liberia.

RFA’s Head of Carbon and Sustainability Aaron Berry commented, “Biofuel suppliers should be encouraged to support projects like these, which avoid indirect effects, as they reduce the risk of causing indirect carbon emissions and raising food prices.”

The full report and supporting studies, containing a wide ranging examination of the impacts of UK biofuel use, are available at www.renewablefuelsagency.gov.uk/yearone

Contact: Chris Malins, 07500 573 521, chris.malins@rfa.gsi.gov.uk, 020 7944 8454

Notes: 1) The RTFO applies across the whole of the UK. Refiners, importers and any others who supply more than 450,000 litres of relevant hydrocarbon oil annually to the UK market are obligated by it

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