Environmental groups welcome UK government concern over biofuels

21 February 2008

Brussels, 21 February - Environmental groups BirdLife International, EEB, Friends of the Earth and Transport and Environment, welcome UK transport secretary Ruth Kelly's announcement that the UK will initiate a wide ranging review of biofuel production. The green groups expressed their hope that other member states will engage in this review and that it will lead to a re-think of the EU's 10 per cent biofuel target proposed under the Renewables Directive [1].

The groups also reiterated their strong support for the overall 20 per cent renewables target and pointed out that meeting this target would in fact be easier without a specific biofuels target.

John Hontelez, Secretary General of the European Environment Bureau said: "This timely announcement from the UK government should be an important turning point in EU policy. It is highly unlikely that the EU can reach its 10% biofuel target sustainably and this review is urgently needed."

Adrian Bebb of Friends of the Earth Europe said: "It is clear that agrofuels are not a solution to climate change. Using crops to feed cars instead of people is a recipe for disaster and should be abandoned immediately."

Ariel Brunner, Agriculture spokesman for BirdLife International said: "More and more scientific evidence is showing that increasing demand for biofuels is putting enormous strains on ecosystems with little guarantee of reducing GHG emissions."

Kerstin Meyer of Transport and Environment said: "It is high time that policy makers reconsider the 10% biofuels target. It would be much more sensible to look at the actual climate performance of all transport fuels, an alternative that is already on the table now."

The NGO's stressed that, regardless of what happens to the 10 per cent biofuels target, stringent sustainability safeguards must be developed and applied to ensure the sustainability of the biofuels that are already on the market.


Notes to editors:

[1] In March 2007 the European Council endorsed a target that all transport fuel should contain 10% biofuels by 2020. However, they added conditions that it should be cost-effective, production should be sustainable and so-called second-generation fuels are commercialised. Since then there has been growing evidence that most biofuels are neither sustainable nor cost effective and second generation still far from being commercialised: In January, a leaked report by the EU's own scientists concluded that the costs of using biofuels outweigh the benefits and questioned whether they would reduce greenhouse gases. A growing number of academics, institutions and non-government organisations are calling for the EU's 10 per cent target to be dropped.

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