The EU chooses fuel over food to the loss of millions going hungry

Published: 30th March 2023

Today, the EU chose fuel over food in the provisional agreement reached on the Renewable Energy Directive (RED), the EU law that incentivises the burning of crops to fuel cars and trucks.

In response, Julie Bos, Oxfam’s EU climate justice expert, said:  

"Today, the EU chose to keep fuelling cars with grains, sugar and vegetable oil. That means that Europe will continue to waste land that could feed 120 million people daily. In the midst of a global hunger crisis, the EU’s decision to keep promoting biofuels is nonsense. Biofuels not only waste cropland to power cars, but they also push food prices even higher. This is a massive loss for millions of people who are struggling to find their next meal.  

“The EU’s choice is also deadly for the planet. European policymakers are perpetuating a false climate solution by promoting the use of biofuels. Growing crops for fuel not only takes land that could be used to absorb carbon, but it even causes more greenhouse emissions than the fossil fuels they replace. Biofuels do nothing to fight the climate crisis, they only harm the planet. 

“EU governments must stop this madness and rule out the burning of food for fuel in their national laws.” 

Notes to editors

Julie Bos is available for comment. 

Today, negotiators of the European Parliament and EU countries struck a deal on the final text of the revision of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) that incentivises the use of crop biofuels. 

The revision of RED was an opportunity to phase-out all crop biofuels, but this option was thrown off the table early in the negotiations and the latest discussion focused only on soy and palm oil. The deal foresees: 

  • No phase-out of soy. The European Commission only opened the door for a further review of the criteria to assess the negative impacts of soy. 

  • No earlier phase-out of palm, only a possible speeding up of the process before 2030.  

Oxfam calls for a full phase-out of crops from the EU’s biofuels mix. EU countries must correct the path and step up their ambition by ruling out biofuels when translating this law at a national level.   

Read the joint Transport and Environment and Oxfam report, Biofuels: An obstacle to real climate solutions.  

Biofuels drive up food prices. Numerous studies by IFPRI, T&E and Oxfam highlighted how biofuels increase the cost of food in the context of the 2008 food crisis.  

Contact information

Julia Manresa | Brussels, Belgium | | mobile +32 473 87 44 26     

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