MEP's must cut 'damaging' biofuels target, says Friends of the Earth

Friends of Earth has called for the EU's biofuels target to be cut in half, claiming it is "driving forest destruction and increasing emissions".

Almost 200 civil-society groups from forest-rich nations have authored an open letter, asking MEPs to restrict demand for biofuels.

Almost 200 civil-society groups from forest-rich nations have authored an open letter, asking MEPs to restrict demand for biofuels.

The European parliament will vote today (Tuesday) on proposals to reform the EU biofuels policy, which aims for 10% of energy used in the transport sector to come from renewable sources by 2020.

This target will be have to be met through the conversion of vital food crops such as maize, rapeseed, soy and palm oil, said FoE. The environmental group wants to cut the target to 5%.

"EU biofuels policy is destroying forests, damaging communities around the world and sending food prices soaring," said FoE biofuels campaigner Kenneth Richter.

"And far from cutting emissions from transport, the biofuel targets may be causing an increase in climate-changing pollution."

Deforestation

Alongside the reduced transport fuels target, FoE wants the EU to account for the extra CO2 emissions stemming from land-use changes i.e. less carbon capture from forests

In a similar move, almost 200 civil-society groups from forest-rich nations such as Indonesia and Brazil have authored an open letter, asking MEPs to restrict demand for biofuels.

"We are seriously concerned about the devastating impact that Europe's demand for biofuels is having on our forests and millions of our people, and about its significant contribution to rising greenhouse gas emissions," read the letter.

 Controversy

Today's European vote is the latest landmark in a debate which has raged since the EU target was established in 2009.

Most recently, the influential World Resources Institute (WRI) released a report in January claiming that biofuels are too inefficient to solve energy crises and make it harder to sustainably feed the planet.

"Every time we dedicate land to bioenergy, we sacrifice the opportunity to use that land for some other human need, ranging from food to carbon storage," said the report.

The Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA) dismissed the WRI analysis, saying it used false data and "failed to substantiate its claims".

The Alliance said biofuels categorically did not stress food production while they also helped to save 106m tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2014.

In a recent poll 52% of edie readers said they thought renewable technologies, like solar PV, represented a more land-efficient way of generating power, while just 24% thought that biofuels could efficiently create food and fuel at the same time.

Have your say:

Brad Allen


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