MEPs must not turn their backs on the world’s poor when they take a crucial vote on European biofuels policy tomorrow, ActionAid said today.
MEPs will be voting to cap the amount of land- and food-based biofuels used in transport fuel. Research has shown that these biofuels push up food prices and cause hunger, particularly in the developing world.
ActionAid believes they must vote for as low a cap as possible. If the European Parliament votes for a higher 6.5% cap, as proposed by some MEPs, this means that enough food to have fed more than 223 million people for a year will instead be burnt as fuel.
Anders Dahlbeck, ActionAid’s biofuels policy advisor said:
“While 1 in 8 go hungry every day, in Europe we’re burning enough food as fuel to feed more than 100 million people each year. Current EU biofuels policy incentivises putting food into cars and using millions of hectares of fertile land, much of it in developing countries, to produce energy. This is, and has always been, a ludicrous policy and MEPs can vote to change it this week.
”MEPs need to leave a clear legacy of global social justice. Their chance comes on Wednesday when they can vote to limit and start phasing out an industry that is fundamentally unsustainable. First generation biofuels require huge amounts of food and land and they are not the climate champions they were once thought to be. We trust that MEPs will see the light this week and vote for people and their right to food, not just profits and fuel.”
In October, the European Commission proposed a cap of 5% on the amount of food that can be used to meet the overall 10% target for renewable energy in transport by 2020.
This proposal was welcomed by development and green NGOs as a first step in the right direction to control the promotion of the first generation biofuels industry. However recent wrangling in the European Parliament has seen some efforts to water down the Commission’s limitation, particularly by the industry committee. The industry committee has proposed a 6.5% cap.
The EU’s renewable energy target, which requires 10% of all energy used in EU transport to come from renewable sources by 2020, promotes biofuels as a greener alternative to fossil fuels. However, research has shown that most biofuels cause climate emissions just as much as the fossil fuels they were designed to replace, as well as pushing up food prices and causing hunger.
In 2011, ten international organisations including the FAO, World Bank and WTO called on G20 leaders to end all subsidies and targets for biofuels globally given their impact on food price volatility. This call has been largely ignored by the G20 to date.
In Sub-Saharan Africa six million hectares of land – 38 times the size of London – is now under the control of European companies seeking to make money from Europe’s biofuel policies. Of the European companies that have invested in biofuels in Sub-Saharan Africa, 30 are from the UK.