Energy ministers fail to spell out a vision for a future without harmful biofuels

Published: 3 December 2012

In reaction to the Council’s conclusions on a renewable energy strategy for Europe beyond 2020 adopted in Brussels today by Energy Ministers, Marc Olivier Herman, Oxfam’s EU Policy Adviser said: 

“Energy ministers today missed an opportunity to say loud and clear that Europe will stop putting food into its fuel tanks.

“In a world where climate change is wreaking havoc and close to 900 million people go hungry, the vision they have spelled out today for Europe’s renewable energy policy beyond 2020 is neither ambitious nor sustainable.”

“If the EU intends to stop subsidising higher food prices and promoting environmental destruction, Energy Ministers should build on the European Commission's proposal to rule out support to biofuels that compete with food for land, water and crops and worsen climate change, after 2020. In fact, there’s no need to wait until 2020: all subsidies to land-based biofuels should be rapidly phased out.

“Only truly sustainable renewable energy sources can form the bedrock of an ambitious energy policy towards a low carbon and equitable Europe.” 

Note to editors

  • On 17 October, the European Commission adopted a legislative proposal that seeks to amend two directives promoting the use of biofuels in the EU: the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) of 2009, which sets a binding target of 10% renewable energy in transport by 2020 and the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) of 2008 which obliges fuel providers to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of fuels by 6% by 2020. The proposal states that after 2020 biofuels which do not lead to substantial greenhouse gas savings (emissions from indirect land-use change included) and are produced from crops used for food and feed should not be subsidized.
  • The current EU’s biofuels policies alone could push up oilseed prices by up to 33%, maize by up to 22%, sugar by up to 21% and wheat by up to 10%, between now and 2020. (Institute of European Environmental Policy - IIEP)
  • Biofuels are driving the expansion of agriculture into natural carbon sinks such as wetlands and rainforests resulting in huge carbon emissions (process known as Indirect Land Use Change – ILUC)”. ILUC caused by biofuels could generate between 27-56 million tonnes of extra CO2 per year by 2020, which represents 12-25 million more cars on European roads (IIEP)
  • Download The Hunger Grains, an Oxfam report looking at the impact of the EU’s biofuels policy on food prices and land rights.

More on climate change

Contact Information

For more information, please contact Gaëlle Bausson on +32 473 562 260 or gaelle.bausson@oxfaminternational.org, or @gbausson

Permalink: http://oxf.am/3gZ