Decarbonization of transport in Europe is one of the most complex issues. There are not many realistic and proven tools available. Biofuels have gradually created their irreplaceable position among other renewables during the past years, even with the potential to grow further. The use of bioethanol as European agriculture-based fuel has been expanding and the fuel called E10 (containing up to 10 % of ethanol in petrol) is already available in 14 EU countries with other countries to follow soon. The significant reduction of emissions in transport alone will represent a significant contribution toward achieving carbon neutrality – the main objective of the European Green Deal.
Occasionally, local politics complicates the aim of decarbonization. The latest example is the Czech Republic. After some months of delay caused by the Covid-19 situation, the Czech government proposed introducing E10, taking effect from mid-2021. However, the opposition Czech Pirate Party (a member of the Greens – European Free Alliance of the European parliament) has recently suggested the cancellation of biofuels´ mandatory blending. As a related consequence, the E10 introduction plan of the government has been delayed.
Local political disputes and bickering seem to have sidelined important issues such as the obligation of increasing renewables in transport outlined in the RED II Directive. Investments curtailed and arbitrations launched on destroyed investments in biofuel producers (mostly foreign investments), lack of proteins derived from the foregone biofuel production, are unfortunate outcomes, but the real loser in this is the lack of progress in protecting our climate.
In Poland, despite the political decision made in mid-2020 by the Ministry of Climate and Environment to introduce E10 as the only blend for petrol RON95, operative discussion is still ongoing without solid conclusions about the final date of its market implementation.
In two of the Visegrad4 countries, E10 is already available. Hungary and Slovakia seamlessly introduced E10 in Jan 2020, just like Romania and Bulgaria earlier, representing 90-100% of petrol fuel available on the market. In the wider region, the Baltic countries have already introduced E10 and Austria is also discussing this step.
While no problems arose so far, these countries can do significantly more for the climate, rural development, improve agricultural incomes, and air quality benefits by displacing more oil with renewable fuel. It is high time for the Czech Republic and Poland to follow these good examples and for its governments to decide to introduce E10 as well.