EU decision on biofuel targets

Jan 27, 2009

Renewable Energy Directive agreed, EU endorses high mandatory biofuel target Climate, communities, rainforests and other ecosystems to be sacrificed In December 2008, the European Union reached an agreement on the Renewable Energy Directive. Detailed analysis of what was decided regarding biofuels and solid biomass…

A 10% mandatory 'renewable energy for transport' target was adopted, which each member state must reach by 2020 and which is a biofuel target in all but name. The EU thus went against calls by hundreds of NGOs, social movements and other civil society groups, against warnings by leading scientists, several UN spokespeople. They even ignored warnings about biofuel policies pushing hundreds of millions more people into malnutrition and starvation by spokespeople from the IMF, the World Bank and the OECD. We believe that there needs to be strong EU measures to support sustainable and clean renewable energy such as wind and solar power. However, the Renewable Energy Directive which has been agreed is so deeply flawed that it will accelerate climate change, cause major biodiversity losses, significantly worsen the food crisis, and lead to more evictions and displacement and more land-grabbing across the global South. The only ways of preventing such disastrous impacts are to scrap the Renewable Energy Directive and to replace it with a better one which promotes true renewables, not industrial monocultures – or to substantially amend it so as to achieve the same end.

See a joint press release by 12 organisations immediately before the EU Parliament's vote.

Europe's Sustainability Standards: Certifying Ecosystem Destruction and Evictions

Certifying the destruction of Brazil's Cerrado
When the European Council first announced a 10% biofuel target, they promised that this would only happen, if biofuels could be sustainably produced. The Renewable Energy Directive does indeed speak about 'sustainability standards', but those are 'standards' which allow for any type of air, soil and water pollution, for the destruction of many biodiverse ecosystems, for the depletion of rivers and groundwater, etc. And there are no credible rules of enforcing any standards whatsoever. Even worse: if an EU country was to refuse support for biofuels, for example because native vegetation in the Cerrado, the world's most biodiverse savannah, had been ploughed under, they would be deemed to breach EU law and to act illegally!
Certifying evictions and human rights abuses
There are no binding 'social standards' in the Renewable Energy Directive. This means that governments are prohibited from refusing support to biofuels grown on plantations where people have been violently evicted, or even where people have been murdered by plantation companies, or the army or paramilitaries working for them.

January 2009
See analysis report for more details