A launch event by WWF and IUCN Netherlands was held on 28.11.2013 – Biofuel Workshop - EC approved certification schemes for biofuels: Do they offer enough safeguards in practice?
Three studies were presented:
- GIZ - Recognition of private certification schemes for public regulation - Lessons learned from the Renewable Energy Directive
- IUCN NL - Betting on best quality: a comparison of quality and level of assurance of sustainability standards
- WWF – Searching for sustainability – Comparative Analysis of Certification Schemes for Biomass used for the Production of Biofuels
The first study concluded in five key learning areas:
- Availability and clarity of administrative procedures
- Transparency and confidentiality
- Technical assessment framework
- Cross acceptance rules
- Parallel recognition procedures in Member States where the EU RED approval and organisation framework should be adapted.
The two reports from IUCN NL and WWF seemed to share very similar conclusions:
- There is quite a lot of variance between the different approved sustainability schemes
- Some schemes (e.g. 2BSvs, REDcert, RSBA) have much weaker standards and enforcement/auditing than others.
- RSB, RSPO, RTRS were identified as certification schemes with higher standards but also these schemes have room for improvement.
- Those weakest industry schemes are cheaper, have fewer checks, and therefore have by far the biggest market share of certifications for EU biofuels. So there is a clear 'race to the bottom' going on.
- Several schemes have very poor auditing and verification, meaning that there can be few guarantees that the claims on paper actually correspond to what's going on the ground.
- Obviously, several schemes which are designed specifically for RED do not even include crucial things like social or labour standards.
- The system of 'mutual recognition' between the different schemes (whereby certification under once scheme can get automatically recognised as meeting the standards of another scheme) means that there is even more of a 'race to the bottom' - with large quantities of biofuels judged under the weakest schemes getting passed off as certified under other schemes.
This leads WWF to conclude that the EU system of certification falls well short of ensuring that Europe’s push towards increased biofuel use is not contributing to environmental destruction and social exploitation.