OECD slams agrofuels

11 September 2007

Friends of the Earth Europe urges EU to scrap 10 percent target

Brussels, 11 September 2007 - Today Friends of the Earth Europe called for the EU to scrap its target for using plant-based agrofuels for transport, after a leaked paper revealed the OECD's [1] grave concerns about their social and environmental effects.

Adrian Bebb, Agrofuels Campaign Coordinator for Friends of the Earth Europe said:
"Hurtling headfirst down the agrofuels path will be a big mistake, and the OECD is the latest of a series of respected international bodies to warn against it. The EU risks stimulating further destruction and poverty in developing countries if it sticks with its current agrofuels target."

The report appears as a background document ahead of today's Roundtable on Sustainable Development - which will be attended by a number of European Ministers. [2] The report raises numerous concerns, including:

  • The environmental impact of agrofuels can be even worse than that of petrol and diesel. Natural forests, wetlands and pasture land will be replaced with dedicated crops grown for energy.
  • Large scale expansion of agrofuels will significantly impact on the wider global economy. Food will get increasingly expensive for at least the next ten years.

Within the background document are two critical recommendations:

  • Governments are failing to respond to the growing concerns about agrofuels. They should not create new mandates for agrofuels and should instead phase out their current support.
  • More attention should be focused on reducing energy demand and improving vehicle efficiency as this will cost less than subsidising inefficient new sources of supply like agrofuels.

European Heads of State agreed in March this year to a target that 10 percent of transport fuels should be met by plant-based agrofuels by 2020. The target however is conditional on agrofuels being produced sustainably and also on the successful commercialisation of so-called 'second generation fuels', which are produced by converting biomass to liquid.The OECD paper questions whether either are possible.

Mr Bebb continued: "The EU should put the brakes on agrofuels by dropping its recently-adopted target and forcing the automobile industry to clean up their cars. Agrofuels are a false substitute for actually improving vehicle efficiency and taxpayers money should instead be used to support real solutions to our climate and energy problems."

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NOTES
[1] Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development - [2] Round Table on Sustainable Development: BIOFUELS: IS THE CURE WORSE THAN THE DISEASE?
http://www.foeeurope.org/publications/2007/OECD_Biofuels_Cure_Worse_Than_Disease_Sept07.pdf