Oxfam reaction: MEPs' biofuel compromise is not enough to tackle hunger in poor countries

The European Parliament’s compromise in capping the share of biofuels made from food crops at 6 per cent of the EU’s energy demand in transport by 2020 is disappointing, Oxfam said today.

As a result of fierce industry lobbying, today’s vote was won by only a very small margin, despite obvious support from a large number of MEPs and European citizens to stop using food for fuel. Today in Strasbourg, NGOs handed over a petition with over 240,000 signatures asking MEPs to stop taking food out of people’s mouths.

In reaction to today's vote, Marc Olivier Herman, Oxfam’s EU biofuels expert, said:

“Whilst MEPs have avoided the worst case scenario on the table, the European Parliament is still guilty of neglecting the needs of both the people and the planet. This anaemic compromise means entirely preventable hunger and environmental devastation will continue. A cap on biofuels of 6 per cent is far above current levels of consumption.

“Today’s vote also introduces a new 7.5% binding target for the share of bioethanol in petrol; this would mean that by 2020 Europeans will have to buy 2.5 times more grain based biofuels than they currently do.

“In their efforts to appease the biofuels industry and agricultural lobbyists, MEPs have failed in their duty to represent the best interests of their electorate and the one in eight people going to bed hungry each night. As a result, millions will continue to be susceptible to volatile food prices, deforestation and further land-grabbing. EU governments must now pick up their slack.”

Notes to Editors

  • In October last year, the European Commission proposed amending the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive by introducing a 5% limit for counting food crop-based biofuels towards the 10% target for renewable energy in transport fuels by 2020, improving sustainability criteria and promoting the use of advanced biofuels.
  • The European Parliament has voted today to cap the share of biofuels made from food crops at 6% of the EU’s energy demand in transport by 2020. The vote came after the European Parliament’s Environment Committee adopted a report by the French MEP Corinne Lepage which proposed the cap to be at 5.5%. The report was watered down after intense pressure from the biofuels industry and European farmers lobby, despite strong evidence condemning crop-based biofuels from a number of sources. EU member states will adopt their common position on the EU’s biofuels reform in the coming months.

Related Links

The Hunger Grains: The fight is on. Time to scrap EU biofuels mandate

FAQs on biofuels

More on the problem of land grabs

Contact information: 

Angela Corbalan on + 32 (0) 473 56 22 60 or angela.corbalan@oxfaminternational.org