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Biofuels and sustainability
Strict environmental and social safeguards are needed for the sustainable production of biofuels. We work to ensure that the biofuels we purchase come from sustainable sources.
From cultivation to use some biofuels emit significantly less CO2 compared to conventional petrol. But this depends on several factors, such as how the raw materials are produced. Other challenges include concerns over land competing with food crops, labour rights, and the water used in the production process. Our approach is designed to make sure that the biofuels we purchase have been produced in a sustainable way.
Our biofuels supply chain
We are a major purchaser of today’s biofuels for blending.
To help ensure that our biofuels come from sustainable sources we support rigorous sustainability standards.
In 2007 we introduced a policy that governs the way we work with our suppliers on sustainability.
The policy requires suppliers to comply with regulatory requirements, for example through international certification schemes.
When these are not available, we have been introducing our own environmental and social sustainability clauses into new and renewed supplier contracts.
Our clauses require suppliers to respect human rights in the production of biofuels and not to cultivate biofuels in areas rich in biodiversity.
Under the policy, we work closely with our suppliers in developing a sustainable supply chain and review their progress on a regular basis.
In 2014, more than 99% of biofuel volumes that Shell bought and blended into petrols were covered by these contract clauses, while around 40% of these volumes were certified as sustainable by an independent auditor (working to standards set out in the European Union’s Renewable Energy Directive).
Promoting standards for sustainability
To improve the sustainable production of biofuels, we support the adoption of international standards for sustainable sourcing. We are active in several roundtable organisations that have developed sustainability certification schemes: these include Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, the Round Table on Responsible Soy and BonSucro, formerly the Better Sugarcane Initiative.
Working with others
Together with other environmental and social experts we are developing projects to help tackle the potential challenges of biofuel production, such as conservation and land management.
We are building on our long-term collaborative partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Their experience helps us to consider risks and opportunities related to ecosystem conservation – and the livelihoods that depend on this – when we source biofuels.
As one of the world’s largest biofuels distributors, we provide opportunities for IUCN to influence global markets towards more sustainable production processes.
We have been engaging with other energy companies and environmental non-governmental organisations such as WWF and IUCN to look at ways to promote the sustainable production of biofuels on underused land which will not displace food crops.