Europe’s biofuels plans driving social and environmental destruction

By BirdLife Europe, Thu, 18/11/2010 - 15:59

Plans to increase the use of biofuels in Europe over the next ten years will require up to 69.000 square kilometres of new land worldwide and make climate change worse, a new report shows. The report finds that an area over twice the size of Belgium will need to be converted into fields and plantations – putting forests, natural ecosystems and poor communities in danger, if European countries do not change their plans for getting petrol and diesel from food crops by 2020. The piece of research commissioned by a group of NGOs, including BirdLife International, analyses for the first time biofuels use planned by the EU’s member states in their renewable energy plans.

The report concludes that: - Europe is set to increase significantly biofuels use by 2020 when biofuels will provide 9.5% of transport fuel – more than 90% of which will come from food crops. - When indirect land use change is taken into account, biofuels will emit an extra 27 to 56 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year – the equivalent to an extra 12 to 26 million cars on Europe’s roads by 2020. - Unless EU policy changes, the extra biofuels that Europe will use over the next decade will be on average 81 to 167% worse for the climate than fossil fuels.

The report comes at a key time for EU biofuels policy, with the European Commission due to report on how to address and minimise these emissions by the end of the year. This report shows again that the Commission has to review urgently the real impacts of biofuels on climate change and food security, and to prioritise energy efficiency in transport. The study has been complied by the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP).  November 2010. ‘Anticipated Indirect Land Use Change Associated with Expanded Use of Biofuels in the EU: An Analysis of Member State Performance’. Read the report The organisations involved in the report are are: ActionAid, BirdLife International, ClientEarth, European Environmental Bureau, FERN, Friends of the Earth Europe, Greenpeace, Transport & Environment, Wetlands International. The study analyses the 23 plans that had been submitted by October 2010 (Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, UK). http://ec.europa.eu/energy/renewables/transparency_platform/action_plan_en.htm. This forms part of the EU Renewable Energy Directive. More information: Trees Robijns, EU Agriculture Policy Officer at BirdLife Europe

Europe and Central Asia


Most forms of bio fuel are damaging to society and the environment by knocking down forests to plant trees or sugar cane is Stupid. When crops are taken from the food bowl to feed cars is wrong.

WHY isn't someone who's smarter than this speaking up?? Where are the people who should know better??

Unless the biofuels are derived from cellulosic or algaeic sources.

Here is a response I wrote in 2007. I am not an engineer, but I don't think it takes much smarts to figure out that biofuels are bad for the planet. Why haven't the 'experts' figured it out yet? From the moment I heard about ethanol made from grain I thought, "How stupid!!" We are already using too much land and water for irrigation to produce the never ceasing demand for meat, and now even more to produce "eco-fuel". And to think of all the people these crops could feed instead of being burned in an engine. Totally unethical!! Unbelieveable!!!! I certainly hope that there aren't many environmentalists speaking in favour of ethanol over petroleum. I also do not agree with hybrids because I wonder how all the old batteries will be disposed of? How much additional fuel will be required to haul around the additionaly weight of all the batteries? Perhaps programs need to be in place to give tax credits to people who drive very little, or to those who carpool, or use public transit, or drive fuel efficient cars. However, proper and convenient transit options need to be available before people can be "punished" for driving their vehicles. We live in a rural area and there is no public transit we can use. I like how New York City seems to deal with part of the problem of keeping people from driving private cars - SUPER high parking prices (as high as $16.99 plus tax for 20 minutes near the UN building) and not selling gasoline in Manhattan. But then there is the problem of a zillion taxis. I don't know how clean they run, but NYC still is very smoggy. There are definitely options yet to be thought of and looked into. Lets hope that world leaders (especially Bush) will keep their minds open and their scientists working!!

Biofuels are better than petroleum mostly because they produce fewer carcinogens. Burning biofuels produces not noticeably less carbon dioxide than petroleum. Clean up the atmosphere by substituting biofuels for petroleum, but never delude yourself by thinking you're resolving climate warming at all.

I really feel like we're between a rock and a hard place on this problem. Reliance on petroleum is so destructive -- e.g., oil spills such as the one in the Gulf of Mexico this year and the one in the Timor Sea off the coast of Australia last year, tar sands mining in Canada, bursting pipelines (breaks my heart to think of Nigeria) -- and as accessible sources are used up it will only get worse. But biofuels are not the answer either. I live in Illinois and the vast majority of the landscape is being ruined by cornfields (some for cattle feed, some for biofuel, very little for direct human consumption)...and I won't even go into the wind farms taking over everything! This is equally bad for the birds! So what's the answer? I don't know! I try to ride my bike as much as possible but few people I know are willing/and or able to reduce how much they drive. Some have to commute just for the job, so I sympathize. We need to figure something out, but it will have to make it easier/more enticing for people to do without cars. (I lived in Morocco for two years and did not have a car so it can be done! But in America, at least central Illinois, almost impossible.)

All it takes is for you humans to evolve. But you won't do that, and my kin and I will go extinct, and you will forget we ever existed. Or you will remember, but selfishly use guilt to flog yourselves, and get pleasure from that, because you all worship religions of self-flogging. But you won't give up flying in planes. You won't give up driving any time you feel like it. You won't give up consuming products from way outside where you live. You won't give up the idea that the only important thing on earth is you having more human babies. You don't care about our babies except as a passing thought. You would never devote your lives to OUR babies, only to your own. You won't give up your worship of money. You won't live with seasons as they are--your houses always have to be 68 in the summer and 72 in the winter. You want nothing but comfort. "Where are the people who should know better"? Tell me, M. Andrus, where the food comes from to feed your domestic house cat. Tell me what its fossil energy footprint is. So don't go blaming others for what you are doing to me, my kin, and all of us avian maniraptor descendants who are finding you humans far more destructive than the Chicxulub event. Blame yourselves for refusing to change, and using words and ideas as a way to lie about what you're doing. Blame yourselves, each one of you, and look at your life, and then look me in my wise grey eye and tell me you care about birds. We birds know many truths, and one of them is: you humans care about nothing but yourselves. The worst of you are the ones who fly around the planet on planes, claiming you're on "eco tours."

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