New EU biofuel proposals inadequate: world hunger and greenhouse gas emissions would increase warns ActionAid

ActionAid’s Head of Campaigns Belinda Calaguas is available for interview by contacting Laura Sullivan on 0032 (0)485 781255

Belinda will speak at a press briefing at 8.30am at Mi-Figue Mi-Raisin, Rue Archimede 71, Brussels and on a European Development Days panel at 2pm today.

News that the EU is proposing a 5% limit on the use of food-based biofuels has been welcomed by ActionAid as an important symbolic first step.  But the anti-poverty agency warns that without a total ban on food and land based fuels, millions will still go hungry because food prices will continue to be affected and land will still be grabbed.

After waiting two years, the proposal was set to address greenhouse gas emission from indirect land use change.  But in a surprising twist, the European Commission has buckled to industry pressure and taken the heart out of the proposal: it does not address the climate change emissions associated with EU biofuel targets.

Belinda Calaguas, Head of Campaigns at ActionAid International said: “A proposed law to set a cap on biofuels made from food crops is an encouraging first step. However, it may be largely tokenistic since the limit would be set above current food to fuel levels and not necessarily stop member states from going beyond it.

“We have seen land grabs and food prices skyrocketing in recent years, largely fuelled by biofuels targets and subsidies. ActionAid has serious doubts as to whether this new policy will do anything to change that.”

”Furthermore, by not proposing to fully address greenhouse gas emissions associated with EU biofuels, the European Commission makes an unacceptable mockery of the EU’s commitment to tackling climate change.”

“The EU Member States and Parliament should walk away from this proposal and wait until the European Commission comes back with something that will actually tackle climate, land grabs and hunger.”

Based on research in 24 countries, ActionAid’s new report ‘Lay of the Land’ highlights the impact of land grabbing on communities, particularly women, who control less than 2% of land globally. Over the past four years, ActionAid has worked with communities in a number of particularly affected countries to tell the story of the effects of land grabs to produce biofuels for export, where demand is being driven by targets and subsidies.

The proposed EU legislation still represents a major ideological shift in the European Commission’s thinking around one of its most notorious policies. It is a clear admission that the EU 2020 ‘biofuel’ target is fundamentally flawed. ActionAid’s campaign calls on EU Member States and European Parliament to bring in legislation that will genuinely tackle climate change, end damaging targets and subsidies and stop all food and land being used to fuel cars.

Editors' notes
  • If agreed by the EU Member States and the European Parliament, the legislation would mean that there would be a ‘limit’ on the amount of food based fuel that EU member states could use to meet the 10% Renewable Energy Directive (RED) target. Furthermore any national subsidies to food based fuels would end after 2020.
  • On October 16, World Food Day, ActionAid launched its report ‘Lay of the Land’ detailing the rising tide of land grabs in developing countries and their impacts. Half of the world’s food is produced by smallholder farmers, the vast majority of them women – making land indispensable for their livelihoods and for global food security.
  • ActionAid’s 2012 report ‘Fuel for Thought’ looks at cases of land grabs in developing countries by European companies for biofuels production.