Barroso must not back away from biofuels reform

15 October 2012

Brussels, 15 October – EU chiefs must follow through with plans to slash biofuel use, Friends of the Earth Europe warned today as crucial decisions on biofuels policy reform are taken by European Commissioners in Brussels.

The warning comes on the eve of World Food Day, against the backdrop of a looming food crisis – the third in five years.

European Commissioners and their officials are today debating a proposal to limit biofuels' contribution to hunger and climate change. The long-awaited reform to address social and environmental impacts of expanding land use for biofuels is due to be announced on Wednesday (17 October). [1]

It follows a recent announcement by Commissioners Hedegaard and Oettinger that: "It is wrong to believe that we are pushing food-based biofuels. In our upcoming proposal for new legislation, we do exactly the contrary: we limit them to the current consumption level, that is 5 percent up to 2020. [...]We are pushing biofuels that help us cutting substantial CO2-emissions, do not compete with food and are sustainable and green at the same time." [2]

European Commission president, José Manuel Barroso, must take firm action to prevent industry from weakening proposals to reduce the use of biofuels from food crops, say Friends of the Earth Europe.[3]

Robbie Blake, biofuels campaigner, Friends of the Earth Europe said: "Biofuels are not the solution to making transport greener and are instead making climate change worse and pushing up food prices and hunger. In a world where almost a billion people already go hungry, and biofuels for Europe's cars are contributing, it's time for President Barroso to call a halt to this madness of burning food.

"The European Union must change track on biofuels and back serious reform. Failure to stand up to vested industry interests means biofuels would continue to push up global hunger and accelerate climate change."

There is a weight of consensus amongst independent studies and inter-governmental institutions such as the World Bank, OECD, FAO that biofuel targets mount pressure on tight food markets and are, in part, responsible for driving recent alarming spikes in food prices. [4]



[1] Press Conference – ‘Commission presents stricter rules for biofuels’


[3] 15 October 2012, Letter to President Barroso from Friends of the Earth Europe, ActionAid, Oxfam International  

[4] Friends of the Earth Europe Briefing, October 2012 – ‘Agrofuels, food prices and hunger’