EU Imposes Duties on Indonesian Biodiesel

The European Commission had launched an anti-subsidy investigation in December following a complaint by the European Biodiesel Board

THE European Commission on Tuesday imposed countervailing duties of 8 per cent to 18 per cent on imports of subsidised biodiesel from Indonesia, saying the move was aimed at restoring a level playing field for European Union (EU) producers.

“The new import duties are imposed on a provisional basis and the investigation will continue with a possibility to impose definitive measures by mid-December 2019,” the EU executive said in a statement.

Last week Indonesia’s trade minister said he would recommend to an inter-ministerial team a 20 to 25 per cent tariff on EU dairy products in response to the EU targeting the country’s biodiesel, adding that he had asked dairy product importers to find sources of supply outside the 28-nation bloc.

The EU duties are another blow to Indonesian biodiesel producers after the bloc said in March that palm oil should be phased out of renewable transportation fuels due to palm plantations’ contribution to deforestation.

The European Commission, which coordinates trade policy for the EU, launched an anti-subsidy investigation in December following a complaint by the European Biodiesel Board.

It said its investigation showed that Indonesian biodiesel producers benefit from grants, tax benefits and access to raw materials below market prices.

The EU biodiesel market is worth an estimated nine billion euros (S$13.92 billion) a year, with imports from Indonesia worth about 400 million euros, it said.

Indonesia Biofuels Producers Association (APROBI) chairman MP Tumanggor told Reuters that companies impacted by the anti-subsidy duties will likely be forced to renegotiate their contracts with buyers in the EU and it may reduce 2019’s biodiesel exports.

“We initially targeted 1.4 million tonnes exports this year to Europe, that will not be reached,” Mr Tumanggor said, adding that exports may only reach around one million tonnes.

He said the group is in consultation with the government to respond to the duties decision by the EU.

Indonesian officials did not respond to requests for comment from Reuters on the countervailing duties decision.

In a separate report, Indonesia’s Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry said biodiesel with 30 per cent palm diesel blend passed a series of cold temperature tests this week as the government aims to increase the palm content in biodiesel early next year.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said earlier this week he wants the so-called B30 standard to be adopted in January next year, up from the current B20 standard which contains a 20 per cent blend of palm fatty acid methyl ester (FAME).

Mr Widodo said the higher blend of palm in biodiesel should be able to address the problem of high energy imports and slowing global demand for palm by increasing domestic consumption of the vegetable oil.

The energy ministry said a number of passenger cars were tested in Java’s highland region where they were left in cold temperatures for up to 21 days.

“The start ability test results show that the cars can be started normally. This proves that the B30 flows well in the engine even though it has been left for 21 days in cold conditions,” Dadan Kusdiana, head of the research department at the energy ministry said in the statement. The B30 fuel is expected to go through more tests until October.

Energy ministry estimates that consumption of FAME could increase by more than 50 per cent next year with the implementation of the B30 standard. Indonesian palm oil exports are under pressure after the European Union said palm should be phased out from transportation fuels in its market due to its contribution to deforestation, while India, the world’s top vegetable oil buyer, has imposed an import tax on palm oil. REUTERS


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UN Report Warns of Clash Between Bioenergy and Food

Models suggest large areas of land are needed for forests and biofuel crops to halt climate change, but this risks worsening hunger, draft tells policymakers.

Blanketing the globe with monocultures of forests and bioenergy crops is no dream fix to the climate crisis, a leaked draft report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns.

Models suggest large areas of land are needed to draw carbon dioxide out of the air to limit global warming to 1.5C, the most ambitious target in the Paris Agreement.

This risks worsening hunger by competing with food production for space, according to the draft summary for policymakers obtained by Business Standard.

“Widespread use at the scale of several millions of km2 globally” of tree-planting and bioenergy crops could have “potentially irreversible consequences for food security and land degradation”, the report said.

Intensifying the production of bioenergy crops through the use of fertilisers, irrigation and monocultures could also erode soil and its capacity to soak up carbon in the long run.

UN report on 1.5C blocked from climate talks after Saudi Arabia disputes science

There is rising demand for fuels derived from plants as a source of renewable energy. The Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA), describes modern bioenergy as the “overlooked giant” of renewables, predicting it will outpace solar, wind and hydropower in the next five years.

However, converting land to bioenergy production could deprive countries of valuable agricultural soil and displace crops and livestock to less productive regions. Populations most at risk of food insecurity were sub Saharan Africa and southern Asia, the IPCC draft said.

To minimise the conflict, scientists advised governments to limit the scale of bioenergy. Depending on the way countries developed, negative effects from biofuel crops could kick in starting from between 2 and 6 million km2 globally.

A safer way to reduce land emissions is to protect and restore ecosystems known for their capacity to absorb carbon, including grasslands, peatlands and coastal wetlands, which affect smaller areas.

On the food production side, measures to cut waste and a shift to lower meat diets can also help to alleviate pressure on land.

The report dealt a blow to the system of intensive agriculture spawned after the second world war and called for a shift to sustainable farming. The current food system is responsible for over half of human-caused methane emissions and 25-30% of total greenhouse gas emissions.

Breaking monocultures by cultivating several crops at once, planting more crops to enrich and protect soil, such as legumes, and reducing tillage could help soil absorb more carbon.

The findings chime with research by French think tank IDDRI published in December, which showed that an agroecological food system in Europe could slash emissions by around 40% compared to 2010.

The report urged policymakers to consult local people, “particularly the most vulnerable”, over the use of land. This could help governments identify the most appropriate uses for land and overcome potential conflicts or trade-offs.

Responding to media reports on the leak, the IPCC said in a statement that “drafts of the report are collective works in progress that do not necessarily represent the IPCC’s final assessment of the state of knowledge”.

Government representatives are due to meet 2-6 August to consider the report and finalise the summary for policymakers ahead of publication.


This article was published on and written by Natalie Sauer

MPs Debate Call for Ban on Non-Recyclable Packaging

The public has “woken up” and is ready to do more to cut plastic pollution, MPs have been told.

They were debating a petition, signed by almost 250,000 people, urging the government to ban all non-recyclable food packaging.

Opening, Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge, said mishandling of plastic waste was leading to a “public health emergency” in poorer countries.

The environment minister said he wanted to “help people make the right choice”.

It is estimated the UK uses five million tonnes of plastic every year – nearly half of which is packaging – and demand is rising.

The petition lists just some of the packaging it would like to see abolished, including cereal box inner bags, plastic fruit and vegetable packets, crisp packets, sweets wrappers and Styrofoam.

It states: “Today the Earth is at a crisis point due to our plastic consumption, and as a result, people in the UK are more willing than ever to engage in recycling.

“So much food packaging remains completely, frustratingly unrecyclable. Let’s aim for the UK to lead the world with a 100% recycling rate.”

Plastic waste often does not decompose and can last for centuries in landfill. Other items end up as litter in the natural environment, which in turn can pollute soils, rivers and oceans, and harm the creatures that inhabit them.

Mr Zeichner told Westminster Hall: “We have woken up. There is genuine public recognition of the climate crisis and real concern over the natural destruction caused by non-recyclable waste.”

He said evidence showed plastic waste led to disease and death in developing countries, and in the eyes of some charities now constituted a public health emergency.

“Buying food without throwaway packaging is becoming increasingly popular,” he continued.

“At the start of the month Waitrose launched the new ‘unpacked’ model with a dedicated refillable zone of products including cereal, pasta and fish.

“The reaction to the trial was 97% positive on social media.”

Robert Goodwill, minister for agriculture, fisheries and food, said the issue was one of “great concern” and the number of signatories was testament to the depth of feeling among the public.

“The government shares the public’s concerns and has set out ambitious plans to tackle the problem,” he said, but stressed that some materials were harder to recycle than others.

“I should stress we have no plans to ban the use of food packaging that cannot be recycled. Most food packaging is technically recyclable, though the current market does not make all recycling economically viable.

“Our general approach is to help people and companies make the right choice and develop alternatives, rather than move to banning items outright.”

As well as government-led initiatives, the minister said “consumer-driven progress” – for example, the growth in reusable coffee cups – was an important factor too.

However, there have been instances – as with plastic straws and microbeads – where a wholesale ban was appropriate.

Mr Goodwill said the government had been consulting on proposals to incentivise producers to make more sustainable packaging design choices.

Mr Zeichner thanked the minister for his reply, but took issue with the idea that Labour and the government were in the same place on the issue.

The former would be “much more interventionist”, he added.

Plastic tax

The government has said its Resources and Waste Strategy for England, published in December, sets out plans to reduce plastic pollution and a move towards a more circular economy.

It builds on commitments made in the 25-Year Environment Plan to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste.

In a bid to limit ocean pollution, the government will introduce new controls on single use plastic items in England by April 2020.

The measures cover plastic straws, plastic drinks stirrers and plastic cotton buds.

Earlier this year, Chancellor Philip Hammond also asked for views on the potential benefits of a plastics tax.

Takeaway boxes, disposable cups, plastic wrap and cigarette filters are some of the items he is consulting on.

The idea is that putting tax on single-use plastics would help drive behavioural change, and stop plastic littering streets, countryside and coastline.

Other countries including Canada and Ireland have already promised to take tougher action.


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MPs debate call for ban on non-recyclable packaging

European Federation of Wooden Pallet and Packaging Manufacturers Welcomes Changes to Packaging Waste Directive

FEFPEB has welcomed an important change to the European Union’s Packaging & Packaging Waste Directive, which affects how recycling targets for wooden packaging are calculated, following work by the industry.

The European Union has accepted that wood used in both the reuse and repair of pallets and packaging have to be included in the calculation of recycling rates.

FEFPEB has informed its members about the changes – which have been incorporated into the Packaging & Packaging Waste Directive.

Secretary general Fons Ceelaert, said: “Wood used in both the reuse and repair of pallets and packaging has been accepted, which is a real success,” he said. “Not reaching recycling targets could cause great problems in terms of penalties, so we are happy with this helpful new regulation,  with realistic recycling targets, which removes a lot of concern for our industry.”

He added that under the revised directive, replacing one component in a pallet also now allows the full weight of the pallet to be accounted for as recycled.


Tax Credits for Affordable Electric Vehicles Gain Speed

As Congress begins to turn toward tax policies to help clean energy manufacturing, electric vehicle tax credits aimed directly at more affordable vehicles are gaining speed, just as a previous Forbes column and a Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) white paper urged several months ago.

The question now is will EV advocates in Congress, the U.S. auto industry and labor unions get the message and reform tax incentives to benefit middle-income Americans.

Such revised tax credits focused on more affordable EVs will increase the chances new incentives become law, and will better allow the U.S. to reap the remarkable economic, health, manufacturing and environmental benefits of EVs.

Yet as of now, new EV tax credits have been left entirely out of a so-called “tax extenders” outline circulating among House Ways and Means Committee members.

But a series of new developments are demonstrating that tax credits focused on affordable vehicles are gaining momentum.

Canada announced a new $5,000 EV tax credit but only for EVs priced under $45,000; not surprisingly, in response Tesla, which otherwise would not have qualified for the new credit, lowered the price to $44,999 of its base Model 3 offering in Canada to make it eligible.

Fiat Chrysler and Renault announced a merger plan to form the world’s 3rd largest automaker, and though the deal fell through due to demands from the Renault shareholding French government, the plan is still widely viewed within the industry as fueled by an opportunity to quickly make Chrysler one of the world’s largest EV producers and capture the huge new EV market, set to grow from fewer than 2 million EVs produced last year to more than 30 million a year around the world by 2030.

Major President candidates like Joe Biden proposed expanded EV tax credits, while candidate Gov. Jay Inslee’s electric vehicle proposal contained several major elements of PPI’s “Winning the Global Race for Electric Cars” white paper including new EV tax credits focused on more affordable models; a “cash for clunkers” tax credit for the trade-in of oil-burning vehicles and purchase of a new EV; and a requirement that all new federal government vehicles be EVs where feasible.

Congressman Dan Kildee (D-MI), along with U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Gary Peters (D-MI) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced the Driving America Forward Act, legislation to expand the electric vehicle and hydrogen fuel cell tax credits by raising the cap for additional 400,000 vehicles per manufacturer to be eligible.

The bill is supported by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the Edison Electric Institute and scores of clean energy corporations and environmental NGOs, but has not been included in the current “tax extenders”

But this legislation was not only left out of the recent outline of tax extenders. Republicans, after handing $2 trillion to the richest American in their stunning tax giveaway bill, have decided to pretend to take the populist approach by criticizing current and these proposed EV incentives as mostly benefiting the rich. George Will wrote a column entitled “Concerned that government is rigged in favor of the rich? End this tax credit” supporting efforts by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Rep. Jason T. Smith (R-Mo.) to repeal the tax credit.

A coalition of 34 right wing interest groups urged Congress not to extend the electric vehicle tax credit. In a letter, the groups argued that “subsidies for electric vehicles overwhelmingly benefit the rich.”

The letter falsely claims that EVs are dirtier than gasoline-powered cars. Environmental and consumer advocates point out that Republican EV opponents are purposing ignoring the more than $3 billion in annual federal taxpayer subsidies for oil companies, since big oil is providing the lion’s share of their donations to GOP members of Congress.

Advocates contrast this amount with the far smaller $670 million the EV tax credit cost in 2017.

Never to be outdone when it comes to hypocrisy by anyone, President Trump, who opposes even current EV tax credits, tweeted prematurely about a possible deal between GM and a fledgling company called Workhorse, to build a small number of electric trucks at the shuttered Lordstown plant near Youngstown, Ohio.

Yet no company could use robust EV tax credits more than Workhorse, a company with fewer than 100 full time employees who had less than $500,000 in revenue last quarter.

Trump is offering a pathetically inadequate response to the huge EV opportunity, while the Chinese he complains so much about continue to dominate the global market with more than 40% of global sales.

Trump’s trade war response is self-defeating. Instead of advocating a policy to beat the Chinese in manufacturing of EVs, he is threatening to erect a trade barrier specific to EVs, which will only add costs on all cars for Americans and US automakers. As it is, China produced more than 1.2 million EVs last year, while the US manufactured fewer than 400,000, Chinese production is growing much faster.

Moreover, Trump’s EPA is set to rollback fuel economy standards, in part by arguing a lack of demand for the EVs who tax credit it is attempting to end thus lowering demand.

All of this argues for a system that provides higher EV tax credits for lower priced cars, as PPI has proposed, to spur larger EV fleet growth, benefit middle income consumers most, cut cost of driving, oil imports and greenhouse gas emissions, and face down the faux-populist arguments from the right.

In terms of climate change, Transportation is now the largest source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, driven almost entirely by oil consumption in vehicles.

Any serious plan to cut America’s climate change emissions must replace oil burning engines with alternatives, like EVs. Additional benefits of lower oil consumption include ending reliance on imported oil, and lowering our trade deficit.

Fortunately, America’s electricity system is getting much cleaner very quickly, so EVs will be increasingly low-emitting. Coal’s share of US electricity production has dropped in half in the last two decades, and continues to fall rapidly.

Meanwhile, remarkably, ALL new U.S. electricity capacity last year had lower emissions than oil—with wind (46%), natural gas (34%), solar (18%), and other renewables and battery storage (2%) accounting for all of it.

As for consumers, the costs of owning and operating electric vehicles is lower than oil-based cars already, with fewer repairs and no gasoline costs, which means that when production reaches scale and sticker prices come down, total costs of EVs will be lower than oil-burning cars.

The average price per gallon of gasoline is more than $2.50 nationally while it costs less than half that–$1.10 per “eGallon”–to charge an electric car, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Moreover, polling shows that EV tax credits are broadly popular with Americans, including Republicans. Strong majorities, including 71% of Republicans, say a $7,500 tax credit would increase their likelihood of going electric. And 44% of voters planning to replace their wheels in the next 5 years will consider going electric, but they need incentives to do so.

Meanwhile, research by MIT’s David Keith and Christopher Knittel notes that” that even if every U.S. vehicle sold were electric starting today, it would take until 2040 for 90% of vehicles in use to be electric.” This suggests that getting started as soon as possible with more effective EV tax credits that reach average consumers will be critical to decarbonizing US transportation.

New tax credits might also include a mechanism to allow those who lease, rather than buy, EVs to gain tax benefits. In addition, tax credits of some type ought to apply to fleet operators who buy electric vehicles to offer rides to consumers.

As EV become increasingly cheaper to operate per mile traveled, ride-hailing services will be among the first to switch, and can impact broader consumer markets.

As GM has suggested, Congress in infrastructure legislation ought to create incentives to deploy electric chargers in the places they make the most sense, and to lower the cost of charging stations by scaling them: “drivers who park on the street or who live in apartment buildings without charging don’t have an easy way to use a home charger.

Congress ought to create federal incentives to deploy charging stations in multi-unit buildings, in malls, at grocery stores, and so on. Congress should especially create incentives for employers to deploy charging stations for their employees at work.”

All of this should be discussed when the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing later this week on plans by the Trump Administration to rollback increases in the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, even as the carmakers themselves sent a letter to President Trump asking for him to compromise with California and others states and find CAFÉ increases all can support.

And as the Economist has noted, “China’s plans for making cars…use industrial policy to overtake the West on the road to the future. Mark Wakefield of AlixPartners, a consulting firm, identifies a key component of this as a “strategy to dominate” electric vehicles.”

Trump’s trade war won’t work. And his opposition and those of some Republicans in Congress to thoughtful EV tax credits and fuel economy increases are only holding back U.S. industry while China and others pass us by. The U.S. needs a serious EV policy – of effective tax credits aimed at the middle class, and charging infrastructure build out, so that EVs can reach scale and benefit consumers and the nation more quickly.

And we need them soon, before it’s too late for America to compete.


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Tax Credits for Affordable Electric Vehicles Gain Speed, But Legislation Must Avoid Stop Signs

Will Indian Govt Give Bigger Tax Breaks On Electric Vehicles?

Existing GST levied on electric vehicles is 12%

A proposal to reduce GST on EVs is expected to be put forward in the upcoming GST council

Indian EV industry has recorded sale of 7.59 Lakh units in India in FY2019

Indian government might slash down the goods and services tax (GST) levied on the sale of electric vehicles in the upcoming 35th GST council on June 20.

It is reportedly being proposed to bring down GST on electric vehicles to 5% from the existing 12%, which is relatively less than 28% GST for traditional vehicles.

“There is a proposal to cut tax rates on EVs among other issues,” according to an ET report which cited government officials.

Electric vehicles have been the prime focus for Modi government, which has announced multiple electric vehicle focused policy over the past five years. After the initial announcement of lower GST rates for EVs in 2017, this further slashing down of taxes can be a push for the global manufacturers to enter the Indian market.

Also recently, government think-tank NITI Aayog had proposed that only electric vehicles should be sold in India by 2030. In a cabinet note, the think-tank had asked the road transport and highways ministry prepare a framework which will help cut out on the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles.

Further, it also proposed piloting an ehighway programme with an overhead electric network to enable trucks and buses to ply on select national highways. The proposal also includes a plan to manufacture 50 gigawatt hour (Gwh) batteries by 2030.

EV Sales in India
The Indian electric vehicle industry recorded sale of 7.59 Lakh units in India in FY2019 as opposed to 56K (excluding three vehicles) in FY2018. This included the sale of 1.2 Lakh two-wheelers, 6.3 Lakh three-wheelers and 3,600 passenger vehicles

However, in April, right after the announcement of central government’s FAME II scheme, the sales of electric two-wheelers had gone down to near-zero. EV industry had attributed this slowdown to the lower availability of vehicles in the market due to the FAME II recertification rules of all existing EVs.

FAME II has mandated all original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to get their electric two-wheeler models certified by recognised testing agencies. Only after the recertification process, the vehicles were to be eligible for incentives under FAME II.



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Is The Govt Considering Bigger Tax Breaks On Electric Vehicles?