Friends of the Earth Scotland today (20 June 2011) criticised plans by European airlines to fuel aeroplanes with biofuels, claiming that these plans are greenwash, that they are an attempt by the aviation industry to continue business as usual, and that they fly in the face of the need to tackle climate change.

The European aviation industry, with support from the European Commission, is expected to announce plans to use 2m tonnes of bio-kerosene per year by 2020. This could require an area up to the size of the Scottish Highlands to grow the crops required to produce this fuel, with serious environmental implications.

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

“In a world where millions go hungry, it would be incredibly irresponsible to grow enormous amounts of new crops to fuel cheap flights and long-haul holidays for the richest in the world, rather than for food to feed the hungry. Biofuels exacerbate poverty and hunger, drive people from their traditional lands, cause massive deforestation, and help to push up food prices.

“To make matters even worse, most current biofuels don’t even offer any significant environmental benefits. Instead they lead to increased negative impacts on the climate, the natural environment and food security.

“This proposal is just greenwash, designed to make the aviation industry look green when it is anything but, and is merely an excuse for the aviation industry to continue business as usual and ignore the real task at hand, to make the necessary reductions in flying hours, carbon emissions and energy consumption that are required to tackle climate change.”

KLM and Virgin Atlantic have already carried out test flights with various blends of biofuel, and Lufthansa launches its first commercial flight this year.

This week, G20 Agriculture Ministers will be discussing measures to reduce pressure on rising food costs, including recommendations by the World Bank, WTO, UN, OECD and others to scrap biofuel subsidies and mandates because of their impact on world poverty and food prices.

Europe’s biofuel plans are causing social and environmental destruction. Controversial crops to be included in the aviation biofuel mix include palm oil – the production of which is linked with tropical deforestation, irreparable biodiversity loss, and human rights abuses – and jatropha, promoted as a miracle crop, but in reality instrumental in driving land-grabs in India and Africa.

ENDS

For media enquiries, please contact: Robbie Blake, Biofuels Campaigner, Friends of the Earth Europe
t: +32 (0) 2893 1017

Per Fischer, Press Office, Friends of the Earth Scotland
t: 0131 243 2719

Notes to Editors

The European Commission and Airbus together with the European Aviation Industry and European Biofuels producers are expected to launch the “European Advanced Biofuels Flightpath”. Originally planned for the Paris Air show on 22 June, this has subsequently been postponed until further notice.

“Flying in the face of the facts – Greenwashing the aviation industry with biofuels”. Report from Friends of the Earth Europe on the impact of aviation biofuels: www.bit.ly/foeebiofuels2011

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