Hopes of a sustainable future for EU biofuels policy have been dealt a blow following the European Commission’s decision to delay a critical decision on how to account for the impacts of ‘indirect land use change’ (ILUC).
Environmental groups BirdLife Europe, the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and Transport & Environment (T&E) are calling for the immediate revision of biofuel sustainability criteria to take ILUC impacts into account.Nusa Urbancic of Transport & Environment (T&E) said: “The science shows that Europe’s biofuel policy currently causes more environmental problems than it solves.
Despite that, after more than a year of work, and countless scientific studies, the European Commission has decided to delay action again, leading to continued uncertainty for the biofuels industry.”ILUC is a result of fields of food crops being converted for biofuel production. Additional farm land is needed to grow the displaced food somewhere else in the world, causing rainforests, grasslands and ancient peatlands to be ploughed up to meet the demand.
This releases huge quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, has severe impacts on people and threatens some of our most valued biodiversity worldwide.Faustine Defossez of the EEB commented: ”A policy promoting biofuels that save emissions on paper but not in reality is doomed.
The only way out of this scenario, and to secure a future for biofuels, is to start accounting for all emissions associated with its use, including indirect land use change’”.
A recent study by the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) based on the National Renewable Energy Action Plans submitted by EU Member states found that, unless EU policy changes, extra biofuels coming on the market will increase greenhouse gas emissions by 81 to 167% (1). EU targets, agreed in 2008 as part of the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive (RED), oblige Member States to source 10% of their fuels from renewable sources, resulting in a huge boom for biofuels.
The RED also contains ‘sustainability criteria’, but these do not include the issue of ILUC but instead subject it to a Commission review by the end of 2010.Over the past year the Commission has gathered thousands of pages of research into the issue, the balance of evidence of the studies leaves no doubt that ILUC impacts are substantial. However, the Commission has been reluctant to release the findings of the studies and only did so following legal action by environmental groups (2).
“More and more evidence has revealed the impact of both direct and indirect land use change driven by the European Renewable Energy Directive” said Trees Robijns of BirdLife Europe. “The Commission should do all it can to avoid negative direct and indirect effects on people, their environment and the climate. How much longer do we have to keep waiting before they take the evidence seriously and take action?”
The environmental groups are calling for the full environmental impacts, including those from ILUC, to be taken into account in the sustainability criteria. Such an approach is the only way of ensuring that biofuels sold on the EU market are better than the fossil fuels they replace, and hence it is also the only way to give future investment security to the industry.
Every year in France, thousands of Ortolan Buntings are poached, mutilated and killed in breach of EU and national laws. On Thursday 4 September, the Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux (LPO, BirdLife in France) members went on the offensive, to liberate captured birds and make formal accusations against poachers to the French authorities.
Great news for BirdWatch Ireland! At the beginning of July, BirdLife Partner in this green island had the pleasure to receive an announcement from Simon Coveney, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine: farmers undertaking actions to conserve critically-threatened farmland birds will get priority access to substantial funding within Ireland’s new Rural Development Programme.
On the 15th of September 2014, a wide range of stakeholders met in Brussels to discuss Rural Development Plans for the period 2014-2020 and options for pushing forward environmental objectives. The Conference was organised by Fundatia ADEPT, BirdLife Europe, CEEweb and the European Environmental Bureau.
Invasive alien species are animals or plants that are introduced, deliberately or accidentally, into new environments. In Israel, some invasive plants are giving Hanson Israel (a subsidiary of the HeidelbergCement Group) a bad time. These problems were pointed out to Hanson by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI, BirdLife Partner). Building on the initial success of their cooperation, these two organisations are now launching a new joint project to promote “IAS free quarries” in Israel.
EuroBirdwatch - BirdLife’s biggest birdwatching event in Europe and Central Asia - will take place this year on the weekend of 4 - 5 October. Join us to explore the beauty of birds and experience the magic of bird migration!
As many other bird species in Europe, the Common Quail and the Turtle Dove are being victims of a common practice that brings only concerns to the bird lovers: an uncontrolled hunting for which the laws seem not to be sensitive enough.The Bird Protection and Study Society of Serbia (BPSSS - BirdLife Affiliate in Serbia) has given voice to these common concerns asking the authorities for these two species to enlarge the list of protected birds in the country and abandon their status of game birds.
Janez Potocnick, European Commissioner for Environment until last August, expresses his support to the Natura 2000 network. Mr. Potocnick qualifies it as “one of the biggest achievements in the EU Environmental Policy” in a video produced within the frame of the LIFE project Activa Red Natura 2000 – Connecting people with Biodiversity by SEO/BirdLife (BirdLife in Spain) and the Spanish news agency EFE.
As the streets and corridors of Brussels were slowing down and luggage for holidays was being filled up over the last days of July, the European Commission finally found the courage to publish its new assessment of the sustainability of bioenergy
Two thousand, three hundred and fifty five Red and Black kites, 2,146 Griffon Vultures, 638 Black Vultures, 348 Egyptian Vultures, 114 Spanish Imperial Eagles and 40 Bearded Vultures were found poisoned in Spain between 2000 and 2010, according to