Brussels, 4 April 2008 - Leaked EU documents reveal that preliminary negotiations to establish sustainability criteria for biofuels could fail to prevent an increase in greenhouse gas emissions and fail to stop negative impacts on wildlife and people, international environment groups warned today. The documents reveal that EU Member States are currently planning to apply only cosmetic changes to the very weak criteria put forward by the European Commission in January. 
Representatives from EU Member States are currently meeting to agree sustainability criteria for the production of biofuels. Last year European Heads of State agreed to increase biofuel use on the condition that it could be done sustainably. The leaked documents dated 28 March reveal that Member States are ignoring growing scientific evidence showing that many crops currently used to produce transport fuels may actually increase rather than decrease greenhouse gas emissions, especially if wider knock-on effects, such as changes in land use, are taken into account.
Green groups BirdLife International, European Environmental Bureau, Friends of the Earth Europe and Greenpeace have written to senior government officials from all EU countries urging them to reject weak proposals for biofuels standards and reiterating their call for the EU to drop its proposed mandatory target for 10 per cent of all transport fuels to be made from biofuels by 2020. Any sustainable biomass that is available today should be used where it is most efficient: primarily in the electricity and heating sectors. 
Adrian Bebb, agrofuels coordinator for Friends of the Earth Europe said: "These negotiations show that the EU is prepared to dress biofuels up as green when in fact they are instead causing widespread environmental damage and creating havoc for wildlife and people. Using crops to feed cars instead of people is a recipe for disaster."
Ariel Brunner, agriculture policy officer for BirdLife International said: "It's time the EU were brave enough to admit that currently proposed biofuels standards and targets are unacceptable, and risk exacerbating the climate crisis and devastating wildlife habitats. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that other measures, such as improving vehicle efficiency or simply enforcing speed limits, would be far more effective at addressing transport's emissions."
 The documents can be viewed here.
[ 2] The groups' letter can be found here.