EU bioenergy reform: good first step, but far more needed to help climate and people

Voting on the reform of the Renewable Energy Directive for 2030, the European Parliament’s Environment Committee improved the Commission’s proposal by proposing to phase out the use of biofuels made from food crops by 2030. But Oxfam says it does not do enough to end the EU's bioenergy policy's destructive effects on the climate and on people worldwide.

Reacting to tonight’s vote, Oxfam International’s EU Economic Justice Policy Lead, Marc-Olivier Herman, said:

“Members of the Environment Committee are slowly shutting the front door to bad biofuels made from food crops, but they have left open the back door. There is a high risk that EU biofuels will continue to compete with food production for scarce land resources, putting people at risk of hunger.

“As a consequence of the EU’s massive biofuel consumption, people all over the world are being pushed from their land and rainforests are being cleared. The proposed new legislation’s safeguards are too weak to stop such attacks on human rights and our environment.

“The EU's continuing biofuel mandates and other forms of state aid would allow the biofuel industry to rake in billions of euros through tax exemptions and from consumers who are obliged to pay more at the pump. Vulnerable people around the globe are made to pay the price.

“We urge the Parliament to now advance a rapid and complete phase out of the use of crops for biofuels.”

Notes to editors: 
  • Oxfam's climate and energy expert Marc-Olivier Herman is available for interviews and background information.
  • The Environment Committee’s vote in detail:
    • The ENVI committee has improved the Commission’s proposal by proposing to phase out the use of biofuels made from food crops by 2030. However, MEPs have voted to introduce an exception for so-called “low indirect land-use change-risk biofuels”. This is a poorly defined concept that is likely to lead to the expansion of crops for biofuels onto land wrongly labelled as “unused” or “marginal”, posing a threat for vulnerable communities in countries with weak land governance.
    • At the same time, MEPs have failed to introduce adequate criteria for social sustainability, for instance protecting the land rights of indigenous and rural communities against land deals to produce biofuels for the European market.
  • Read a briefing by Oxfam and five other NGOs summarising what is at stake with the EU’s bioenergy reform: “Bioenergy laid bare: fuelling climate change, fuelling hunger
  • Oxfam’s report ‘Burning land, burning the climate – The biofuel industry capture of EU bioenergy policy’ sheds light on the trail of destruction left across the globe by the current EU biofuel policy. The report also documents the outsized influencing ‘fire power’ of the EU biofuel industry which has benefited from the policy.
Contact information: 

Florian Oel | Brussels | florian.oel@oxfam.org | office +32 2 234 11 15 | mobile +32 473 56 22 60

For updates, please follow @Oxfam and @OxfamEU