Euro MPs urged to drop support for biofuels

7 July 2008

Brussels/Strasbourg, 7 July 2008 - Environment groups have today urged members of the European Parliament to vote against controversial proposals to massively expand the use of biofuels. The groups warn that most biofuels threaten wildlife, food supplies and people in developing countries, whilst contributing little to stopping climate change.

The European Parliament's Environment Committee will vote later today (Monday) in Strasbourg on a proposal to force all EU countries to use at least 10 per cent renewable energy sources, mostly biofuels, in transport by 2020. The proposal has been widely criticised by the EU's own scientists and environment experts. [1]

Adrian Bebb, agrofuels campaign coordinator for Friends of the Earth Europe said: "Biofuels are a false solution to our climate and energy problems. Biofuels are responsible for causing deforestation, high food prices and social conflicts in developing countries."

Recent research has shown that:
- Most crops currently used to make biofuels could be worse for the climate than conventional oil. [2]
- Biofuels have been the main driver behind the current food crisis, having forced-up prices as much as 75 per cent since 2002, forcing an estimated 100 million extra people into poverty and hunger. [3]
- The expansion of crops for palm and soy oil is one of the primary causes of deforestation in Asia and Latin America. [4]

Frauke Thies, Greenpeace EU renewables campaigner said: "Limited sustainable biomass resources should be used where they are efficient: heat and power production, not transport. If the Parliament is serious about reducing emissions in transport it should not fall into the biofuels trap, but instead push for more efficient cars and better public transport."

Friends of the Earth campaigners will unfurl a banner and hand out empty lunchboxes to MEPs before the vote to highlight how serious the food crisis is and that expanding biofuels in Europe will make the situation substantially worse.

***

Notes to editors

1. Both the EU's Joint Research Centre and the European Environment Agency have produced critical reports this year about promoting biofuels.

2. Use of U.S. Croplands for Biofuels Increases Greenhouse Gases Through Emissions from Land Use Change, Timothy Searchinger et al, 2008, www.sciencexpress.org

3. Another Inconvenient Truth, Oxfam International report, 2008 www.oxfam.org/en/policy/another-inconvenient-truth

4. Is oil palm agriculture really destroying tropical biodiversity? Lian Pin Koh & David S.Wilcove, Conservation Letters 1(2008)60-64