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