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Survey: Germans want more biofuels in their vehicles

Sixty-five percent of Germans have a fundamentally positive attitude towards biofuels. That was the outcome of a representative survey conducted by the Kantar market research institute on behalf of the biofuels industry. Provided that production is sustainable and that greenhouse gases are cut by at least 60 percent compared with mineral oil, almost 70 percent of respondents would use biofuels in their vehicles. Forty-three percent of survey participants expect biofuels to become increasingly significant in combatting climate change.

"If more than two-thirds of Germans are in favor of biofuels, policymakers must take this into account and gear up the use of sustainable biofuels in road transport in order to achieve the climate targets," said Norbert Schindler, chairman of the German Bioethanol Industry Association. "Most Germans see a mix of drive concepts as the best approach."

Respondents see growing role for biofuels in climate change mitigation

Seventy percent of all respondents, and even half of those with a skeptical stance, would fill up with biofuels provided these are certified as sustainable and guaranteed to reduce greenhouse gases by at least 60 percent. "Politicians must not ignore these significant data on public attitudes to transport policy and climate change," Schindler underlined.

Most of those surveyed view a mix of different drive concepts as the solution to climate protection issues in the transport sector: 49 percent consider that electric mobility will play a major part in reducing greenhouse gases. Forty-three percent believe that in five to 10 years' time biofuels will also become increasingly significant in combating climate change. Fuel cells with hydrogen are given a similar rating (46 percent) when considering the drive solution of the future.

Preference for domestic feedstocks for biofuel production

Protecting the environment and resources are cited in particular by Germans as the reasons for their positive perception of biofuels. Domestic feedstocks such as sugarbeets (77 percent), rapeseed (75 percent) or fodder cereals (66 percent) were ranked particularly high. Detlef Kurreck, UFOP chairman, emphasized that "the study confirms the particular importance of regional sourcing for public acceptance of cultivated biomass. Fodder cereals, rapeseed and sugarbeets are grown for this purpose on some 850,000 hectares across Germany, making them an important alternative source of income for local farmers. The survey presented here confirms the nuanced appraisal of feedstock originating in Germany and the climate and environmental protection benefits."

According to the survey, only a third of respondents are skeptical about biofuels. Twenty-four percent are even keen to see higher admixtures of bioethanol or biodiesel. Many even call for 100 percent biofuel options.

Certified sustainability as a prerequisite for use of biofuels

Use of agricultural commodities for energy production is cited as the main reason for moderate use about these fuels, as skeptics believe this causes hunger. "Nobody is starving anywhere in the world because we are cultivating rapeseed in Germany," said Jaana Kleinschmit von Lengefeld, president of OVID. "On the contrary, consumers enjoy rapeseed honey and farm animals love protein-rich rapeseed meal. Human nutrition ultimately also benefits from the meat, milk or eggs those animals produce. We therefore urge policymakers to acknowledge the contribution biofuels make to climate change mitigation and the agricultural value-added chain and to take due account of this in measures for the national implementation of RED II."

About one in two of those with a skeptical stance would use biofuels in their vehicles if sustainability was guaranteed. That is already standard practice today and has been a statutory requirement since 2011. For example, only biofuels with an officially approved sustainability certificate may be used, biomass processed into biofuels may not come from land that is deemed worthy of protection or that has been cleared, and the biofuel must make a significant contribution to cutting greenhouse gas emissions. The certified CO2 balance of renewable biofuels includes all emissions from land-use changes, fertilization, fuel consumption during harvest, transport, distribution, production and during combustion in engines. Sustainable biofuels have thus proven their benefits in combating climate change.

The representative survey was conducted by Kantar in August 2020 on behalf of the following four associations from the German biofuels industry: German Bioethanol Industry Association (BDBe), Association of the German Biofuels Industry (VDB), Association of the Oilseed Crushing and Oil Refining Industry in Germany (OVID) and Union for the Promotion of Oil and Protein Plants (UFOP).



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