France to end tax breaks for palm oil in biofuel

(Reuters News, 15 Nov 2019) Critics say that using palm oil in biofuel adds to deforestation in tropical countries.

France's parliament on Friday voted to remove tax breaks for the use of palm oil as a biofuel, a day after a ruling in favour of maintaining the advantage led to howls of protests from environmentalists.

A large majority of members present voted against a government-backed proposal to delay until 2026 the end of palm oil's tax advantages, giving companies like oil major Total more time to phase out the use of palm oil in biofuels.

Late on Thursday, the National Assembly, France's lower house of parliament, had agreed to extend the tax breaks, but following strong pushback from environmentalist MPs within President Emmanuel Macron's ruling LREM party, the government agreed on a second vote.

"This is an important issue that warrants debate," Environment Minister Elisabeth Borne told MPs.

She proposed maintaining the tax breaks while a committee reconsidered the issue, but the extension of tax breaks for palm oil was rejected by 58 votes to two.

"Senators considering the text in coming days and MPS who will have to consider it again before year-end will have to remain extremely vigilant to make sure that the scrapping of this tax break is not somehow again put into question during the legislative process," Greenpeace said in a statement.

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Reuters News, 15 Nov 2019: France to end tax breaks for palm oil in biofuel