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EU Civil society statement on agrofuels

Launched by Friends of the Earth Europe

mise en ligne : vendredi 29 octobre 2010

Associations 21 a confirmé son soutien à cet appel attirant l’attention des autorités européennes sur les risques d’une politique trop favorable aux agrocarburants, tout en transmettant aux auteurs des remarques de fond, à prendre en compte à l’avenir.

EU climate policy in transport must not cause irreversible environmental and social damage

To all EU Heads of State, EU Commissioners and members of Parliament

Biofuels were initially introduced as a green and climate-friendly alternative to fossil fuels in the transport sector. Since then, an accumulation of scientific evidence has shown that expanding biofuel production to meet the EU’s renewable energy target will cause substantial greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions, damage biodiversity, exacerbate rural conflict and land grabbing in developing countries, and impact food prices globally.

In particular, the increased demand for biofuel crops is pushing agriculture into previously unfarmed land – often at the expense of forests, carbon rich peat-lands, and local communities – causing the phenomenon known as ’indirect land use change’ (ILUC). Converting this land into fields and plantations is emitting millions of tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere. Many scientific studies show that when these emissions are factored in, most biofuels actually increase emissions compared to fossil fuels.

Expansion of biofuels also contradicts other EU objectives, such as decreasing deforestation, reducing hunger, and promoting human rights. New plantations often lead to disputes over land rights in producer countries, destruction of habitats, and impacts on the availability and price of food for the world’s most vulnerable societies.

Climate policies and national renewable energy action plans should be part of the solution – not the problem, which is currently the case with biofuels.

There is an urgent obligation to amend EU laws and national plans to take into account the full greenhouse-gas impacts of biofuels. We need an energy revolution in Europe that contributes to real and substantial reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions without accelerating deforestation and biodiversity loss or exacerbating social and resource conflicts in developing countries.

To this end, we call on the European Union and its Member States to :

Support legislative proposals counting for the full climate impact of biofuels – The European Union must factor in known sources of unaccounted greenhouse-gas emissions for biofuels. The current policy is inadequate, because it encourages biofuels that increase greenhouse-gas emissions compared to fossil fuels. This can be done by including a robust and precautionary ‘factor’ that reflects emissions from indirect land use change.

Revisit and amend biofuel policies – Member states must eliminate support for biofuels that increase greenhouse-gas emissions. Priority must be given to energy efficiency and renewable electricity in trains and cars to contribute to the renewable target in transport. The sustainability of national and European biofuel targets must be reviewed to reflect the reality of biofuel expansion on total emissions, biodiversity and communities.

The EU must only accept biofuels that demonstrably reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, pose no significant land-use issues, and do not risk social or conservation conflicts. For this reason, the EU should introduce an indirect land use change factor to fully acknowledge all greenhouse-gas emissions from its policies and bring forward an urgent review of the sustainability impacts of expanding biofuel use.

Info : Friends of the Earth Europe

Remarques transmises par Associations 21 le 20 octobre 2010 aux auteurs de cet appel :

Dear Sir,

Assocations 21, representing 30 assocations of Frenchspeaking Belgium, wishes to support the European Civil Society statement about European agrofuels, although we have some remarks on the content. We know it’s too late to let them know but thanks to take them in account for the future.

The statement should refer to the new directive 2009/28 and promote at first energy sobriety and consumption decrease.

Therefore, priority should be given to :

- Urban and transportation infrastructures as part of the solution for such a reduction of energy consumption (incentives for using trains rather than cars, smaller electric cars, electric bikes...) (We don’t want support to electrical heavy car).

- Fiscal instruments like carbon taxes so that people get used to higher prices for energy (with caution about possible social impacts).

Indeed, agrofuels should not be considered apart from a global view on all energy productions (so that fighting agrofuels could be supported by producers of fossile energy), neither apart from a global view on land use (sustainability impact assessments should be required not only for agrofuels but also for other).

Last but not least, sustainable criteria should be set also for every imported good and raw material.

Thanks to take our remarks into consideration.

Avec le soutien de