Biofuels:An obstacle to real climate solutions

Publication date: 9 March 2023
Author: Oxfam , Transport & Enviroment

A new study by the IFEU institute quantifies for the first time the enormous opportunity costs
across Europe of dedicating millions of hectares of fertile cropland to the production of biofuels.
The results are clear - this land could be used much better in the interest of mitigating climate
change, stemming biodiversity loss or increasing global food security.

In 2009, the European Union (EU) introduced a biofuels mandate as part of its green fuels law, the
ʻRenewable Energy Directiveʼ (RED). The proposition at the time was attractive: farmers would be
supported to produce ʻgreen fuelsʼ. In reality, biofuels have harmed food security and obstructed
climate change mitigation.

The study carried out by the Institut für Energie- und Umweltforschung (IFEU) on behalf of T&E
shows that production of crops for biofuels consumed in Europe requires 9.6 Mha of land - an area
larger than the island of Ireland. This is 5.3 Mha if the production of co-products, mainly feed for
industrial livestock farming, is taken into account. The use of crops in biofuels is not distributed
evenly across Europe. The largest consumers of such biofuels are Germany, France and Spain.
Using land for biofuel crops invariably means that it is largely lost as a natural carbon sink, habitat
for endangered species or for the production of food