German foreign trade in biodiesel was very brisk last year. The total volume of 3.7 million tonnes exceeded the previous year’s level by nearly 20 per cent.
In the calendar year 2019, German foreign trade in biodiesel reached new record levels both in imports and exports. Above all, exports were strikingly high. According to the German Federal Statistical Office, they amounted to 2.3 million tonnes, cracking the mark of 2 million tonnes for the first time. This translates to an 18 per cent, or 346,000 tonne, rise from the previous year.
The Union zur Förderung von Oel- und Proteinpflanzen e.V. (UFOP) has noted that Germany is the most important country in the European Union to produce and market biodiesel, thus safeguarding the country’s rapeseed production. The association has complained that although, in purely arithmetic terms, the entire German rapeseed harvest goes into biodiesel production, there is no positive impact on ex-farm prices. It remains to be seen if the quota of greenhouse gas emission reduction, which was raised from 4 per cent to 6 per cent at the beginning of 2020, will result in the need to cut exports.
However, the import-export balance of nearly 900,000 tonnes of biodiesel shows that Germany is virtually exporting the corresponding greenhouse gas reduction potential, UFOP has pointed out. In view of the sectoral obligations under climate change legislation that will apply from 2021 onwards, this potential should be used at the national level. According to UFOP, it is foreseeable that the transport sector will be behind target. Consequently, tax money will be used to purchase the required emission certificates from other member states, UFOP has criticised. As an alternative, the greenhouse gas emission reduction targets could be gradually raised to fully exploit the national climate change mitigation potential.