European Commission caves into pressure from the biofuels lobby, says Oxfam

17th Oct 2012

Aubrey Wade/Oxfam

The European Commission has watered down draft legislation on biofuels as a result of pressure from the biofuels lobby warned Oxfam today. 

The draft legislation published today marks a climb down from the proposal leaked a month ago. Biofuels producers will not be held accountable or forced to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions biofuels cause through the displacement of agriculture on to forested land and carbon sinks (known as Indirect Land Use Change - ILUC).  However the draft includes a five percent cap on biofuels made from food crops which sends a long overdue message to markets that all-out European support for putting food into fuel tanks is something of the past. 

Commenting on the proposals Tracy Carty, Oxfam said:

 "The proposed five percent cap on biofuels made from food crops shows that the European Commission has finally recognised the problems that biofuels are causing through surging food prices and worsening hunger.  But the cap is higher than the current levels of biofuels use and will do nothing to reduce high food prices.

"The Commission has clearly caved into the biofuels industry which is desperate to hold onto its pot of gold. Big business continues to win in the biofuels bonanza, piling up the profits on the back of poorest who are suffering increased hunger and poverty.

"The British government must up the pressure on other European member states to scrap the current targets and end all support for biofuels.  With close to 900 million people going hungry every day we cannot continue diverting valuable food into fuel."

Ends

Media enquiries to Tricia O'Rourke on 07920 596358 or torourke@oxfam.org.uk

Notes to editors

· The legislative proposal adopted today by the European Commission seeks to amend two directives promoting the use of biofuels in the EU: the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) of 2009, which sets a binding target of 10% renewable energy in transport by 2020, the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) of 2008 which obliges fuel providers to reduce the greenhouse gas intensity of fuels by 6% by 2020. The Commission´s proposal introduces a 5% cap on biofuels made from food crops when determining progress toward the 2020 target and a reporting obligation on emissions from indirect land use change (ILUC). However, these ILUC emissions are not taken into account when determining whether biofuels meet minimum greenhouse gas saving thresholds. The proposal will now be examined by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers.

· The existing EU's biofuels policy alone could push up oilseed prices by up to 33%, maize by up to 22%, sugar by up to 21% and wheat by up to 10%, between now and 2020 (IIEP)

· 60% of global land deals in the last decade have been to grow crops that can be used for biofuels (Oxfam) 

· If the land used to produce biofuels for the EU in 2008 (when biofuels accounted for 3.5% of transport fuel in the EU) had been used to produce wheat and maize instead, it could have fed 127 million people for the entire year (Oxfam).