Econexus, Grupo de Reflexión Rural, Rettet den Regenwald and Watch
Immediate release: Tuesday 2nd December 2008
European Union and French Presidency seek to push forward with
destructive and unsustainable biofuel target
Campaigners today (Tuesday) accused the French Presidency and the
European Union of pushing ahead with dangerous and unsustainable
agrofuel targets, with a view to reaching a deal on the Renewable
Energy Directive on Wednesday. The target as proposed  would
greatly increase the use of agrofuels (biofuels from crops and trees)
in Europe, with no credible protection for food supplies, climate,
people and the environment.
Campaigners are alarmed that current proposals which have been put
forward by the Commission and the Presidency not only endorse a 10%
biofuel target by 2020, but even remove the possibility of a reviewing
this in 2014. The proposals seek to further manipulate greenhouse gas
balances of agrofuels by omitting any references at all to the major
carbon emissions caused by indirect land use change. As recent
peer-reviewed studies have shown, once indirect land use change is
taken into account, virtually all agrofuels are worse for the climate
than the fossil fuels they replace .
The proposal comes shortly after organisations sent an Open Letter to
all MEPs in which they warned that eight governments of major agrofuel
producer countries had made it clear that they do not accept proposed
EU sustainability standards and that even the most basic
sustainability ?guarantees? could clearly not be met .
Amaranta Herrero, agrofuel campaigner at Corporate Europe
?A 10% target regardless of impacts would be a disaster for millions
of people, exacerbating world hunger and causing untold environmental
damage. Demand for agrofuels is already pushing small farmers off
their land, affecting food production and aggravating environmental
pollution, causing the destruction of natural ecosystems which are
essential carbon sinks, including rainforests and peat swamps. The
proposals will send signals to the agrofuel developers to expand,
whatever the human and environmental cost.?
Guadalupe Rodriguez of Rettet den Regenwald added:
?The EU must not ignore calls by hundreds of civil society groups,
social movements, politicians and academics for an immediate
moratorium on monoculture agrofuels in order to protect climate,
people and the environment?.
The Brazilian government is already calling for forests with less than
30% canopy cover to be converted for agrofuels - which would lead to a
rapid increase in rates of deforestation . Half of the world?s
forests currently have canopy cover of less than 20% - and so would be
eligible for conversion.
Campaigners are calling for the target to be dropped and warn that a
deal will lead to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions as more and
more forest and pasture land are converted to make way for displaced
The consequences will be disastrous for indigenous people, local
communities, and for climate change - as carbon stored in forests and
soils is released, campaigners said.
 The French presidency is proposing to exclude the possibility of a
review of the 2020 biofuel target in 2014, and not to include any
emissions from indirect land use change into greenhouse gas
calculations from biofuels into the Renewable Energy Directive.
 Peer-reviewed studies by Timothy Searchinger, Joseph Fargione,
Holly Gibbs and others show that the carbon emissions linked to direct
and indirect land use change for agrofuels can be so high that, in
some cases it would take many centuries of agrofuel use to repay that
carbon debt. See
for comments by one of the lead authors, Joseph Fargione.
 Dossier interinstitutionnel: 2008/0016 (COD). Article 15, para. 4
(page 121). 25th November 2008
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