MEPs must back proposals today (Thursday 11July 2013) to limit the damaging impact EU biofuel targets are having on climate change and food prices, says Friends of the Earth.

Friends of the Earth Biofuels Campaigner Kenneth Richter said:

The European Parliament must stand up to industry lobbying and take urgent action to end EU support for biofuels that wreck our climate and cause people to go hungry.

EU biofuel rules need an urgent overhaul – MEPs must also insist on a major review of a policy that causes real harm to people and our environment.”

Under current EU rules, 10 per cent of the energy used to power the region’s transport sector will have to come from renewable sources by 2020. The target is currently expected to be met almost entirely through the use of biofuels made from food crops – they can also come from waste products, such as chip fat. Biofuels are currently responsible for approximately five per cent of the energy used to power EU transport.

There has been growing concern about the impact of biofuel production on people and the planet.

* Food and hunger: A recent report by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) concluded that “when crops are used for biofuels, the first direct impact is to reduce food and feed availability. The knock on effect is an increase in prices and a reduction of food demand by the poor.” Oxfam calculated that the amount of land used to produce biofuels for the EU in 2008 could have fed 127 million people for an entire year.

* Fueling climate change: Greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation, such as burning forests to clear the land, known as Indirect Land Use Change [ILUC], are currently ignored when calculating the climate impact of biofuels. An Institute for European Environmental Policy study revealed that if biofuels that cause high ILUC emissions are not excluded, the EU’s 10 per cent biofuel target could lead to an extra 56 million tons of carbon dioxide being emitted – equivalent to adding 26 million more cars on Europe’s roads.

Bio-fuel crops by David Wright

Bio-fuel crops by David Wright

Later today the European Parliament is due to vote on a number of amendments to its biofuels legislation to reduce the impact it has on food production and climate change:

* A cap on the use of food crops for biofuels. The Commission has proposed a five per cent cap on food crops being used as biofuels (half the overall 10 per cent target, which will still be in force). Friends of the Earth says this would be a step in the right direction, but urges the EU to commit to a complete phase-out of the use of crops for biofuels.

* Measures to prevent the EU using biofuels with a significant climate impact. Biofuels that result in greenhouse gas emissions through deforestation beyond a certain threshold would not be considered a renewable fuel.

Image by David Wright [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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