This September MEPs will be voting in the European Parliament on whether to limit the amount of food burnt as biofuels in the cars of Europe. Join us in the latest phase of the biofuels campaign, email your MEP today and ask them to vote for Food not Fuel!
Winning the vote in the European Parliament will be a big challenge, industry is going all guns blazing to lobby MEPs to protect their interests by keeping the status quo. But I’m confident we can win - we’re working with a great coalition of organisations across Europe to build the campaign, and we’ve already come so far in the campaign.
Starting with a community problem
We first started working on biofuels in 2009 because colleagues in the south told us of growing problems of communities they worked with losing their land (and with it their livelihoods) to make way for massive plantations growing crops for biofuels.
Halima Weli from Kisarawe, Tanzania, lost her land to a biofuels company.
It's not coincidnce that the same year the Renewable Energy Directive was introduced in Europe, including a target to ensure 10% of transport is powered by renewable sources. The intentions behind the target were good, but it led to a biofuel industry springing up to serve it without clarity on how the true carbon emissions from biofuels would be calculated.
The campaign has come a long way
In 2011, we were successful in getting the Transport Minister, Norman Baker, to freeze UK targets, agreeing that “there remain a number of uncertainties regarding the sustainability of biofuels and their best use”.
In October last year, the European Commission (EC) released the long awaited proposal on how to deal with the carbon emissions from biofuels, and also proposed a cap on biofuels made from food – a huge step in recognising the impact of biofuels on food security. The proposal now needs to be agreed by both European member states and MEPs.
The Field of Wheat takes to the road
Last year we took our ‘field of wheat petition’ to meetings between supporters and key UK ministers who could influence the UK’s position in European talks. Including Norman Baker who leads on biofuels at the Department for Transport, Ed Davey, Energy and Climate Change Secretary and Lynne Featherstone, Development Minister.
Then one morning in April MPs on their way to work were greeted by a giant field of wheat outside Parliament!
Field of Wheat springs up outside the Houses of Parliament
Key MPs came out show their support for Food not Fuel and not long after, the Prime Minister said "I agree that we should not allow the production of biofuels to undermine food security. We want to go further than the European Commission's proposed cap of 5% on crop-based biofuels". This message was repeated by Justine Greening, Development Secretary on the day of the Big IF rally in Hyde Park.
So where are we now?
The field of wheat also made its way over to Brussels where supporters met MEPs who are also scrutinising the EC proposal. In July the lead committee of MEPs supported a cap on biofuels made from food or other crops grown on land that could grow food.
Whilst we would rather see no food for fuel in Europe, we believe a cap of 5% is the best we can get passed right now and if this is passed, will show investors the days are numbered for food based biofuels in Europe.
So we need as many people as possible to email their MEPs before they vote on 11th September. It only takes a few minutes, and with European Parliament elections on the horizon next year, MEPs will be paying particular attention to what their voters have to say. If you’ve already taken action, please do share with your friends.
As Amalia from Guatemala, who lost her land to a plantation to grow sugar that could fuel cars in Europe, says she needs food, not crops to produce fuel "We do not want any more sugarcane. I cannot eat sugarcane. Let’s see how this sugarcane can get rid of hunger!”.
Join with her and demand Food not Fuel today.