Motorists across Europe are set to pay an additional £15bn a year for petrol and diesel as a result of EU biofuel targets that will not reduce climate change emissions, says new research published today (Thursday 2 February 2012).

The research, carried out on behalf of Friends of the Earth Europe and ActionAid, shows that the planned increase in the use of biofuels could cost EU consumers an extra £78 to £104bn between now and 2020. This is despite evidence that increased use of biofuels will actually make climate change worse and increase global hunger.

Stan Blackley, Chief Executive, Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:

“We already know that demand for biofuels is leading to deforestation and increased greenhouse gas emissions through land use changes, while also pushing up global food prices and driving millions of poor people off their land.

“This report now shows that the costs for consumers are substantial, amounting to £15bn a year across Europe. Instead of using increasing amounts of biofuels to fuel our vehicles, we should be aiming to decarbonise the transport sector and investing instead in travel reduction, public transport and active travel measures to reduce the need for people to travel in the first place and shift those travelling to more environment-friendly, healthy and sustainable types of transport.”

Biofuels have been promoted as a green alternative to climate-damaging fossil fuels, but studies for the European Commission confirm that that the EU’s projected use of biofuels could actually increase greenhouse gas emissions, particularly where countries rely on biodiesel from imported and mass-produced palm oil, soy and rapeseed grown on land reclaimed from the wild or grabbed from local communities.

At least 37 million hectares of land has already been degraded or grabbed globally to mass produce biofuels. EU targets currently require 10% of transport energy to come from so-called renewable sources by 2020, with almost all of it coming from biofuels, which are incresingly produced in an unsustainable fashion.

The increased greenhouse gas emissions due to the use of biofuels have been estimated to create an additional 65 million tonnes of CO2 every year in the EU – the equivalent to putting 29 million more cars on the roads.

The UK Government’s Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation means that all fuel sold at petrol stations in Scotland and across the UK contains a minimum percentage of biofuels. Biofuel use in the EU currently stands at 4.7% and national plans will expand this to 8.8% of transport energy by 2020.

ENDS

For media enquiries, please contact: Per Fischer, Press Office, Friends of the Earth Scotland
 t: 0131 243 2719

Notes to Editors

1. Charles C & P Wooders, ‘Biofuels – At What Cost? Mandating ethanol and biodiesel consumption in the United Kingdom’, for the Global Studies Initiative of the International Institute for Sustainable Development, Geneva, Switzerland, August 2011
www.globalsubsidies.org/research/biofuel-subsidies-united-kingdom

According to the research, car owners in particular will be footing the bill for biofuels. In 2020, bioethanol is forecasted to be 16-35 pence more expensive than petrol per litre. Biodiesel will be 29-42 pence more expensive than a litre of diesel.

2. Media briefing, ‘The bad business of biofuels’ is available at:
www.foeeurope.org/agrofuels/bad_business_biofuels_February2012.pdf

3. Friends of the Earth Scotland is * Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation * An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland * Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 77 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups – covering every continent. www.foe-scotland.org.uk