Since the COP21 climate conference in Paris late last year, the EU has been searching for ways to be cleaner and greener. In a push to reduce emissions, Europe is working to set fuel efficiency goals for 2025 and 2030. Instead of focusing on electrification, though, Volkswagen and Shell have released a study suggesting the EU move forward more aggressively with biofuels.
The study assumes high costs involved with meeting the EU's fuel economy goals, as well as a lack of public demand for EVs, but supports the idea that biofuels are an affordable and effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to biofuels, CO2 labeling and emissions trading are named as keys to success.
In response to the study, some are accusing Shell and Volkswagen of attempting to block electrification efforts. "These two industries have realized they have a shared interest," an EU source tells The Guardian. "When you saw who was paying for the study, you knew what the answer would be."
Shell, however, denies an attempt to obstruct EU fuel economy goals. "Nothing in the report can be interpreted as seeking to block electric vehicles," says a Shell spokesman.
The oil company — which has invested heavily in ethanol in Brazil — says government incentives will be needed to help advance biofuels as a solution to emissions. "New fuels will require financial support from governments to support technology development and reduce investment risk," says Shell VP of downstream energy, Colin Crooks.
VW has dragged its feet regarding emissions and fuel economy lately. An executive at the German automaker lobbied regulators to have cold start and high-speed emissions tests struck from the protocol. Even more recently, Volkswagen delayed a fix for its emissions cheat device in the Passat, as the fix allegedly increased fuel consumption. VW said that a change in the team administering the testing was the reason for the delay.
In the meantime, many worry that using this new study as a roadmap to the future would cause the EU to fail to meet its environmental goals. "EU policymakers need to agree [to] stringent measures," says European Climate Foundation general manager Dr. Christoph Wolff, "which will push the auto sector towards developing products that are fit to compete in this fast-evolving marketplace."