Renewable energy reality check: Why ‘multipliers’ only subtract from EU energy goals


Policymakers are considering several options for the role sustainable biofuels like ethanol will play in the EU energy mix for the 2020-2030 period. All of the scenarios for the Renewable Energy Directive recast (known as RED II) claim to have a high ambition for renewables in transport.

But the proposals from the European Parliament and Council fall short of what the EU needs to achieve its climate goals*. Instead, they rely on “multipliers” that artificially inflate the contribution of certain renewables while doing nothing to help the climate – for example by double-counting electrified rail transport or certain waste-based fuels.

These “virtual renewables” allow countries to create the illusion of progress, but make no mistake: in reality, they leave a gap that will be filled only by fossil energy.

Europe needs a RED II that really delivers a real target for renewables in transport – not a policy that uses math tricks to show inflated results. That means:

  • a firm 12-15% target for renewables in transport, without multipliers, to which crop-based
  • biofuels can contribute
  • a stable 7% crop cap – any reduction should not penalize biofuels with high GHG savings
  • a binding sub-target for advanced biofuels, without multipliers

*Assuming minimum mandates are achieved

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