Tuesday

22nd Oct 2019

Letter

EU biofuels policy is false solution to climate problems

  • European biofuels policy jeopardises food security, particularly in developing countries, say a group of Dutch scientists in an open letter (Photo: European Commission)

We, the undersigned, wish to express our sincere worries about the European biofuel policy.

In this letter we urgently implore the new Dutch cabinet to acknowledge that admixture of food crops into fuel causes severe damage to climate, nature and communities. The European admixture policy is a false solution to climate problems. We therefore call upon you to plead that biofuels from food crops have no place in the European 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.

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Recent research – carried out under assignment of the European Commission – points out that admixture leads to increased greenhouse gas emissions. Biodiesel from food crops on average emits 1.8 times as much CO2 as fossil fuels and this number increases to three times more in case of biodiesel from palm oil.

Moreover, European admixture policy leads to an increased demand for vegetable oils from food crops and therefore also to increasing demand for agricultural soil for these crops.

To meet this demand, vulnerable ecosystems like tropical forests, wetlands and grasslands are being converted to vast monocultures. This leads to biodiversity losses and increased vulnerability to droughts, floods, land degradation, surface water pollution, blurring of coastal waters and degradation of coral reefs, and also contributes to local climate-extremes.

In addition, increasing demand for biofuel crops leads to increased food prices.

Local food production is threatened as small-scale agriculture disappears and local farmers lose their autonomy, whilst becoming dependent on multi-billion dollar companies and unstable markets.

This jeopardises food security, particularly in developing countries. This has the worst effect on the poorest inhabitants of affected areas.

Above all, biofuel plantations expand without the required free prior informed consent from local people. European admixture policies presently fund land theft, corruption and intimidation, contributing to social conflicts, poverty and inequality in producing countries.

In short, admixture of fuel crop oil relies on the unfounded assumption that this leads to more sustainable fuel use, but in reality causes ecological and social degradation. The policy serves as a veil that obscures the risks involved in fossil fuels while offering no more than a false solution for our energy requirements.

The admixture policy therefore does not meet the sustainability requirements that the EU poses for itself, like reduction of greenhouse gas emissions or protection of biodiversity, wetlands, carbon stocks, soil, water and social sustainability.

A realistic energy policy requires energy savings and truly renewable energy.

We therefore call upon you to:

- acknowledge that the European admixture policy causes climatic, natural and social damage.

- see to it that food crops will no longer be used for biofuels in Europe and to establish this into the European 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.

The full list of signatories is available on brandstofbrief.nl

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

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