Canola grown in Australia is eligible to enter the EU market as an environmentally-friendly biodiesel feedstock, opening up a potential $1 billion export market for Australian farmers of the crop.
The European Commission has confirmed that the Australian canola meets the EU’s strict new feedstock requirements for biodiesel. Stringent EU greenhouse gas reduction targets could have seen the European market closed to Australian farmers from 2018, had they not demonstrated they grow low-emission canola.
A Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) report funded by the Australian Oilseed Federation and the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC) was submitted to the European Commission to prove the crop’s green credentials. According to AOF Executive Director Nick Goddard, Australian canola growers will be ‘relieved’ over the decision. The EU is Australia’s largest canola export market, with the majority of it is used in biodiesel production.
"The EU market is too valuable to lose for Australian canola growers. In 2016/17, Australian canola exports to the EU were typically worth over $1.0 billion, with nearly all those exports being used for biodiesel production," Goddard said.
AEGIC’s Chief Economist, professor Ross Kingwell, highlighted the positive impact the decision would have for Australia’s canola industry.
“Many Australian farmers rely on canola production, and securing access to lucrative markets like the EU is crucial to underpin the security and general profitability of cropping in many farm regions across Australia,” Kingwell said.
Dr Sandra Eady, a CSIRO researcher, led the lifecycle assessment in partnership with Tim Grant from environmental consultants Lifescycles. They tracked the GHG emissions of all stages of canola farming in each Australian state where the oilseed crop is grown.
"Australian industries are increasingly finding they need to track their emissions to meet international requirements, as well as to demonstrate their social license as good corporate citizens," Dr Eady said.
"We used a team of experts and a range of reviewers to ensure we accurately described emissions from canola production, and are able to assist other Australian industries as they increasingly face similar requirements."
Under the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive, biodiesel feedstocks need to deliver GHG savings of between 50% and 60% compared to fossil fuels from January 2018, up from 35% in 2017. Any country selling feedstock for use in the EU must prove it meets these higher levels of emissions savings to meet the EU targets.
According to the CSIRO report’s findings, Australian canola has an average carbon footprint ‘at the farm gate’ of 468kg CO2-eq/tonne of seed.