EU lawmakers fail to prioritise food over fuels in midst of global hunger crisis

Publié: 14th septembre 2022

Oxfam and Transport & Environment critical of the European Parliament for failing to phase out the use of biofuels that are fuelling the global food crisis.

stunt oxfam

STRASBOURG - The European Parliament rejected the opportunity to change the EU’s fuels law (Renewable Energy Directive) which could have ended the use of food crops in biofuels. Oxfam and Transport & Environment have labeled the vote a missed opportunity to ease pressure on the global food crisis. 

No majority could be found for either the Left's proposal to end support for all crop biofuels nor the Greens and Socialists & Democrats (S&D) proposals for reduction or specific restrictions on crop biofuels during times of food crises.

This means that the current rules on biofuels remain in place. Europe will continue to burn the equivalent of 15 million loaves of bread and 19 million bottles of sunflower and rapeseed oil every day to fuel its cars and trucks.

Food prices, already high, skyrocketed in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Record droughts across Europe and other parts of the world will only add to the crisis. This is pushing millions more people to the brink of starvation and many more into severe food poverty.

Marc-Olivier Herman, Economic Justice Expert at Oxfam: “The outcome of today’s vote is deadly for the hundreds of millions of people who are staring straight into the jaws of hunger. Ending the burning of food for fuel is a step to fight the menacing global food crisis. Already this week, news broke of an imminent famine in Somalia. Meanwhile, European Parliamentarians are choosing to put the interests of the powerful and greedy biofuel lobby before the millions of people around the world who are struggling to find their next meal.” 

The outcome of today’s vote is deadly for the hundreds of millions of people who are staring straight into the jaws of hunger. Ending the burning of food for fuel is a step to fight the menacing global food crisis.

Marc-Olivier Herman
Economic Justice Expert at Oxfam

Maik Marahrens, Senior Campaigner at T&E, said: “The European Parliament missed a historic chance to stand up for the most vulnerable. If Europe alone were to release the food grains it burns for biofuels to the global market, we could feed millions of people. Europe’s lawmakers failed to put right one of Europe’s most destructive climate policies.”  

However, there were some positive outcomes, says T&E. MEPs voted for soy and palm oil - major contributors to deforestation - to be phased out in 2023 in good news for biodiversity and local communities. But without a reduction in the limit on food and feed crops, there is a high risk that soy and palm will be replaced by other food crops.

Notes aux rédactions

To request an interview, please contact: or For a more comprehensive view by T&E on today’s plenary vote on the Renewable Energy Directive see here.  

Today, Members of the European Parliament voted on the Renewable Energy Directive. This vote formalizes their position ahead of trilogue discussions on the new law with the Council and European Commission. The organizations are calling for a full phase-out of crops from the EU’s biofuels mix.  

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.  

Read Transport & Environment Report from March 2022 Food not Fuel which states that Europe burns the equivalent of 15 million loaves of bread every day to power our cars. 

Read Oxfam’s recent brief (8 September) Fixing our Food: debunking 10 myths about the global food system and what drives hunger. The report includes a section on the role of biofuels in causing hunger.  

Crop-based biofuels cause up to 3 times more greenhouse gas emissions than fossil fuels like diesel, or occupy land that could generate bigger climate mitigation benefits when dedicated to carbon sequestration. 

Read Oxfam reaction to latest IPC (Integrated Food Security Classification System) analysis which warns that famine is expected as early as October. 


Jade Tenwick | Brussels, Belgium | | mobile +32 473 56 22 60

Paula Andres Richart | Brussels, Belgium |

For updates, please follow @NewsFromOxfam and @OxfamEU 

Please support Oxfam's Coronavirus Response Appeal.