Euro MPs urged to drop EU biofuels targets

10 September 2008

Brussels, 10 September 2008 - As the European Parliament is preparing for a crucial vote on a new European law for renewable energy tomorrow, international environment organisations are calling on MEPs to vote against proposals to massively expand the use of biofuels. The groups argue that the widespread use of biofuels will do more harm than good and must not distract from the successful development of clean energy.

Alongside important measures for the promotion of clean renewable energy sources, the proposal which will be voted on by the Parliament's Industry Committee also includes a target of 10% for renewable energy in transport, requiring a major increase in the use of biofuels. However, evidence shows that current large-scale biofuel production:

- does not help climate protection and increases pressure on biodiversity. If precious ecosystems like tropical forests, savannahs and wetlands are converted for biofuel production, large amounts of carbon from the soil and vegetation will be released, with irreversible biodiversity loss.

- significantly contributes to food price increases. Biofuels are the fastest growing source of demand for principal food crops. This significantly increases the marginal costs of feeding a growing world population.

- increases pressure on access to land in developing countries. Companies are already rushing to buy up land in developing countries, potentially displacing vulnerable communities and in particular placing women at risk.

"Unsustainable biofuels have no place in a clean renewable energy mix. The EU should finally acknowledge this and stop the rush for these fuels," said Frauke Thies, Greenpeace EU Renewables Campaigner. "The EU objective of 20% renewable energy by 2020 can be much better achieved with clean renewable energy sources from the sun, wind, water, geothermal heat and sustainable biomass," she continued.

Adrian Bebb, Agrofuels Campaign Coordinator for Friends of the Earth Europe, said: "Crops should be used to feed people and not fuel cars. The promotion of biofuels in Europe will increase food prices and force millions of people in developing countries into poverty."

Ariel Brunner, Agriculture Policy Officer for BirdLife International, said: "It would be sad if MEPs where to cave in to pressure from an unsustainable industry and support a proposal that will make Europe responsible for the devastation of some of the world's most precious ecosystems, harming people, wildlife and the climate."

Pieter de Pous from the European Environment Bureau said: "If the industry committee votes tomorrow to stick to the 10% target it will effectively waste 60 billion euros of taxpayers' money for what would in the best case scenario represent marginal climate benefits. A far more effective transport-based climate measure would be to set stringent car efficiency standards."