Friends of the Earth rejects EU biofuels targets

Adrian Bebb Environmental group Friends of the Earth is calling for the EU Commission to scrap its target for using plant-based biofuels for transport, after a leaked paper revealed the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; has grave concerns about their social and environmental effects. “Hurtling headfirst down the biofuels path will be a big mistake,” said Friends of the Earth’s Adrian Bebb. “The EU risks stimulating further destruction and poverty in developing countries if it sticks with its current biofuels target.”

The report raises numerous concerns, including:

  • The environmental impact of biofuels can be even worse than that of petrol and diesel, as natural forests, wetlands and pasture will be replaced with dedicated crops grown for energy.

  • Large-scale expansion of biofuels will significantly impact on the wider global economy, as food will get increasingly expensive for at least the next ten years.

Within the background document are two critical recommendations:

  • Governments should not create new mandates for biofuels and should instead phase out their current support.

  • More attention should be focused on reducing energy demand and improving vehicle efficiency as this will cost less than subsidising inefficient biofuels.

Oilseed rape

European heads of state agreed in March this year that 10% of transport fuels should be met by plant-based biofuels by 2020. The target however is conditional on biofuels being produced sustainably and also on the successful commercialisation of so-called ‘second generation fuels’, which are produced by converting biomass to liquid.

The OECD paper questions whether either are possible. “The EU should put the brakes on biofuels by dropping its recently-adopted target and forcing the automobile industry to clean up their cars. Biofuels are a false substitute for actually improving vehicle efficiency and taxpayers money should instead be used to support real solutions to our climate and energy problems.”

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