THE GREENS/EFA IN THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
PRESS RELEASE – Brussels, 30 January 2007
Food or fuels? –
New campaign outlines threats to food security and the environment from a ‘plant fuel’ expansion
The Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament today launched the second phase of its ‘Food Culture’ campaign, with one of the main focuses being to highlight the dangers posed by a major expansion in the production of plant fuels (often misleadingly referred to as ‘bio’ fuels). Speaking at the launch, Green MEP Friedrich Wilhelm Graefe zu Baringdorf, Vice-President of the Agriculture Committee, said:
“The euphoria about plant fuels has served to mask the serious ethical and environmental problems that they directly cause. Plant fuels are touted publicly as the solution to the problems of oil dependence and climate change, while being quietly pushed in the EU as the way to wean Europe’s farmers off CAP subsidies. However, the oft-used prefix ‘bio’ fools the general public into believing that plant fuels are a wholly positive development for the environment. Diverting scarce food resources from dinner tables to petrol tanks will increasingly place pressure on global food prices, meaning the poorest will go hungry.”
Commenting on the environmental dangers of a major plant fuel expansion, Green energy spokesperson Rebecca Harms said:
“Spiralling oil prices and a growing awareness of the need to reduce climate-damaging carbon emissions have led to a ballooning in support for plant fuels. However, the jury is definitely out on the environmental benefits of a major expansion in fuels from plants. The production of plant fuels is highly energy intensive and often carbon negative, while the clearing of rain forests to facilitate the cultivation of plants for fuels also strips away the positive effects of plant fuels for our climate.
“Promoting an expansion of plant fuels diverts attention from the real problem: our over-consumption. The Commission has proposed the target of 10% for bio-fuels by 2020 but if we fail to reduce energy consumption and improve energy efficiency, it is far from clear that this target will lead to emissions reductions. If the EU is serious about addressing climate change, as well as energy security, it must promote efficiency. Shying away from binding targets for cars’ fuel consumption is exactly the wrong approach.”
Satu Hassi, Vice-President of the Environment Committee, added:
“There is enormous and as yet untapped potential for both energy saving and fuel production from organic waste. It is also clear that plant fuels will play some role in our energy future, however the current explosion in production will have negative consequences for the environment.”
A Green paper on the emerging competition between food and fuels is available at this link.