New research released by the European Commission confirms that Europe’s demand for biofuels is likely to contribute to climate change and harm the environment.

Adrian Bebb, agrofuels campaign coordinator for Friends of the Earth Europe, said: “The EU’s biofuel policy is looking more and more unsustainable and if not urgently reviewed will lead to deforestation, more climate changing emissions and damage to the environment. It is time to end this madness and bring in real solutions to the climate crisis.”

The research evaluates the implications of Europe obtaining just 5.6% of transport fuels from biofuels by 2020 and concludes that anything above that figure will “rapidly” increase climate emissions and “erode the environmental sustainability of biofuels”. The EU has set a target of 10% of all road transport fuel to come from “renewable” sources by 2020, with a majority likely to come from biofuels. For example, the UK government estimates that at least 9.5% of its transport fuel requirements will be met by biofuels by 2020.

It also concludes that the threat of indirect land-use changes – expanding agriculture to grow crops to meet the biofuel target, often at the expense of forests – is real and needs to be taken into account. The research shows that greenhouse gas emissions would increase rapidly after only 4.6% biofuel use. The European Commission needs to make proposals by the end of 2010 on how to deal with these extra emissions.

Duncan McLaren, Chief Executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “Scotland’s new land-use strategy, which is an obligation of the Scottish Climate Act, should be used to ensure that we don’t convert land to unsustainable biofuel production here either.”

Adrian Bebb added: “This research demands an urgent review of EU biofuels policy – how is the EU going to restrict use so that biofuels do not damage the environment or people? The case against the current 10% target is as strong as it ever was.”

ENDS

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Notes to editors

Global Trade and Environmental Impact Study of the EU Biofuels Mandate ec.europa.eu/trade/analysis/chief-economist

Friends of the Earth Scotland is the country’s leading independent environmental campaigning organisation, and is the only organisation in Scotland that is working for environmental justice, campaigning for the planet and its people. www.foe-scotland.org.uk