Total will not benefit from the tax advantages linked to the exploitation of biofuels. the state council refused to consider a fuel made from palm oil as a biofuel.
After being unsuccessful for the first time at the end of 2019, Total has again tried to cancel the 4th paragraph of decree n ° 2019-570 of June 7, 2019 relating to the incentive tax relating to the incorporation of biofuels. This article provides that: » Biofuels are understood to mean products derived from biomass, intended to be incorporated into fuels or which can be used as they are as fuels, with the exception of products based on carbon oil. palm ” . The group did not win.
Good news never comes alone, Total has also just seen its bypass maneuver fail. A derivative product called "Palm Fatty Acid Distillate" (PFAD), a fatty acid distilled from palm oil , had been developed and which would have allowed it to evade the legislation. Especially since customs had qualified this substance as a "residue". But the ruse fizzled out. On February 25, the Council of State followed the opinion of the Constitutional Council by canceling the note from the General Directorate of Customs qualifying the PFAD as a “residue”. Which, at the same time, causes Total to lose tens of millions of euros.
This is a further blow for Total, which opened in mid-2019 in La Mède (Bouches-du-Rhône) one of the largest biorefineries in Europe , based in part on this type of supply.
On the other hand, the victory is beautiful for environmental NGOs and the various actors militant in favor of ecology. Indeed, approving the use of palm oil in fuels through tax incentives is to encourage its cultivation and at the same time, accentuate deforestation. As the court rightly points out: "The palm must be regarded as presenting a high risk of inducing indirect changes in land use".
Intensive palm cultivation leads to real ecological disasters. At the top of which is deforestation. In some parts of the world, up to 50% of deforestation can be attributed to palm oil production. Some animal species such as orangutans and tigers are losing their habitat and are forced to move further and further when they can. When they cannot, they are killed or they die for lack of a balanced biodiversity conducive to their existence. As Greenpeace reminds us: " The equivalent of a forest football field is destroyed every 25 seconds in Indonesia to produce industrial quantities of palm oil and to run cars. About three quarters of palm oil imported into France ends up in agrofuels. This palm oil, mainly produced in South East Asia, generates massive deforestation ”.
Faced with this distressing observation, we must hope that President Emmanuel Macron and his government firmly keep the commitments made to the French in terms of the environment and do not give in to the pressures of a powerful group that could put forward economic or employ blackmail. Let us also hope that the other countries quickly follow in France's footsteps, because although Total no longer has the right to use this fuel in France, it remains authorized to do so abroad.