EU must wake up to agrofuel warnings

19 September 2007

Brussels, 19 September 2007 - Friends of the Earth Europe today accused the European Union of ignoring key warnings about the environmental and social problems of agrofuels - also called biofuels. The environmental group today published a list of recent cautions from prominent organisations and launched an email campaign urging the public to write to their politicians.

Adrian Bebb, Agrofuels Campaign Coordinator for Friends of the Earth Europe said: "Recent cautionary reports about the darker side of agrofuels appear to be falling on deaf ears in Europe. It is essential that the political system wakes up to these warnings and re-evaluates the use of agrofuels. There is a big danger that the use of crops and trees to fuel our cars and power stations will come with a high social and environment cost."

The list of warnings includes:

  • The OECD, which raised concerns last week that the environmental impact of agrofuels could be even worse than that of petrol and diesel and that food will get increasingly expensive for at least the next ten years. [1]
  • The World Land Trust, writing in the journal Science in August, claimed that the EU's target of ensuring 10 percent of petrol and diesel comes from agrofuels by 2020 is not an effective way to curb carbon emissions. [2] This followed a similar warning from the International Transport Forum in June claiming that agrofuels were an expensive way of addressing climate and oil security concerns. [3]
  • The United Nations, which warned in April that transition to agrofuels could be especially harmful to the world's poor - who are net buyers of food - and to farmers who do not own their own land. They also warned that at their worst, agrofuels would result in concentration of land ownership that could drive the world's poorest farmers off their smallholdings and into deeper poverty. [4]

Adrian Bebb continued:
"The EU should put the brakes on agrofuels by dropping its proposed target and instead put its efforts into forcing the automobile industry to clean up their cars."

Friends of the Earth Europe today launched an email action targeted at members of the European Parliament asking them to call for the EU's mandatory 10 percent target to be dropped (http://www.foeeurope.org/cyberaction).

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NOTES
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[1] 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
[2] http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/317/5840/902
[3] http://www.internationaltransportforum.org/Press/PDFs/releases2007/2007Biofuels.pdf
[4] http://esa.un.org/un-energy/pdf/susdev.Biofuels.FAO.pdf

Additional warnings about the detrimental impacts of agrofuels can be found at http://www.foeeurope.org/agrofuels/warnings/warnings.html