Biofuels: No sustainability in sight

10 June 2010

Commission announcement fails the green test

Brussels, June 10, 2010 - Commenting on the European Commission's Communication on new sustainability criteria for biofuels, Adrian Bebb, food and agriculture campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe said:

"Europe's policy on biofuels is inherently unsustainable. It is driving deforestation, damaging the environment, creating more greenhouse gas emissions, increasing hunger and encouraging rampant land-grabbing in the South. It will take a lot more than a few criteria and voluntary schemes to make them sustainable. The EU should abandon this folly and invest in genuine energy reductions in the transport sector."

The Communication attempts to clarify the sustainability criteria as part of the Renewable Energy Directive that sets a mandatory 10% target for renewable energy in transport, likely to be predominantly made up of biofuels. Although palm oil plantations are no longer defined as forests, a move welcomed by Friends of the Earth Europe, palm oil plantations remain environmentally destructive [1]. Recent research by the European Commission [2] concluded that if biofuels exceed 5.6% of Europe's transport fuels, which is almost certain, then they will "rapidly" increase climate emissions and "erode the environmental sustainability of biofuels".

Adrian Bebb, food and agriculture campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe said: "Europe's palm oil use is driving deforestation in countries like Malaysia, where profit is being put before both people and the planet – with the resulting greenhouse gas emissions fuelling climate change rather than curbing it. All efforts should be made to prevent the use of palm oil in biofuels."

***
Notes:

[1] Report on deforestation as a result of palm oil development in Malaysia 'Too Green to be True' - can be found here http://www.foeeurope.org/publications/2010/Too_Green_to_be_True0310.pdf

[2] Global Trade and Environmental Impact Study of the EU Biofuels Mandate: http://ec.europa.eu/trade/analysis/chief-economist/