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Biofuel Nightmare Scenario

New report shows EU biofuel policy likely to cause worldwide environmental destruction

The EU’s biofuel policy is likely to cause large-scale environmental harm across the world, according to a new report published today by BirdLife International. The report is coming out ahead of revised proposals for sustainability standards in European legislation which remain disappointingly weak. The report presents real life cases, from across the world, where the production of biofuel feed stocks is leading to the clearing of natural habitats. It examines the potential for future damage by analysing these case studies against the ‘sustainability standards’ proposed by the European Commission, which are supposed only to allow ‘sustainable biofuels’ to be allowed into the EU market.The results of BirdLife’s analysis show that even the most severe cases of environmental destruction would still be considered as ‘sustainable’ under the proposed EU legislation. This means that if the target (10% of all fuels will be biofuels by 2020) goes ahead as planned, the EU will be responsible for further precipitating the global sustainability crisis.

"The Commission claims that the biofuel target will be met in a sustainable way, our report clearly shows that this is not the case. EU governments must look reality in the face and make a U-turn on this deeply flawed policy" says Ariel Brunner, EU Agriculture Policy Officer The major failing of the Commission proposal is that it ignores indirect effects of biofuel production such as increased consumption of EU oil-seed rape driving up demand for South-East Asian palm oil or US corn ethanol subsidies driving soya expansion in the Amazon. The standards would also fail to protect key wildlife habitats such as set-aside in Europe or precious wetlands such as the Tana River Delta in Kenya.

BirdLife launched its study ahead of Wednesday’s Council discussions (COREPER) where the sustainability standards will be on the agenda. Leaked documents suggest that the Council is unlikely to bring significant improvements to the Commission’s proposal criticised in the report. BirdLife International urges the Council not to green-wash a self-defeating and illogical biofuel target by adopting fake sustainability standards. Therefore, BirdLife calls upon EU decision makers to:

*Drop the 10% biofuel target
*Focus on reducing transport use< br>*Enforce strict efficiency standards on cars
*Force oil companies to clean up their fossil fuels (by phasing out flaring and by not using tar sands and investigate in more efficient refining technology)
*Adopt strong sustainability criteria for all bioenergy, whether used for transport or heating or electricity. These standards should include a minimum of 60% of greenhouse gas savings, and need to be accompanied by effective social and environmental criteria
*Indirect land use change, which means, biofuels displacing food production which then move into natural habitats such as rainforest, should not be ignored but factored into the sustainability standards.

Ariel Brunner, EU Agricultural Policy Officer, stated: “The Commission claims that the biofuel target will be met in a sustainable way but our report clearly shows that this is not the case. EU governments must look reality in the face and make a U-turn on this deeply flawed policy.”

4th July 2014