Commission fails to shut the door on harmful biofuels

Press release - October 17, 2012
Brussels – The European Commission will today finally recognise the destructive side-effects of biofuels made from palm oil, rapeseed and soybeans and other food crops. But its long-awaited proposal to clean up Europe’s biofuels policy will do little to solve the problem, said Greenpeace.

Rainforest cleared for soy production in Brazil

Greenpeace EU transport policy director Franziska Achterberg said:
The Commission finally wants to rein in harmful biofuels, but will do nothing to reverse the biomess. If this proposal becomes law, biofuels more damaging to the climate than crude oil will still be used to meet green transport targets.”

The Commission proposal does not require governments or fuel suppliers to account for indirect emissions from biofuels [1] under fuel quality and renewable energy laws. Biofuels with higher overall emissions than fossil fuels will continue to be used to fulfil EU targets under both laws.

Instead, the Commission proposes a five percent cap on the amount of biofuels made from food crops that can count towards its ten percent renewable transport target, regardless of their indirect emissions. But the cap is too high, said Greenpeace, since it is not based on an assessment of the amount of biofuels that can be produced sustainably.

The proposal introduces incentives for second generation biofuels produced from waste and residues, but fails to require environmental safeguards. Encouraging production of biofuels from forestry residues that are already in demand, potentially leading to increased logging with serious environmental repercussions, warned Greenpeace. Biofuels from waste can meet part of Europe’s transport needs, but other options should take priority, including energy savings and more renewable power in road and rail transport.

Greenpeace calls on the European Parliament and Council to amend the proposal to properly account for the full climate change impact of biofuels.


Note to editors:

[1] Food crops are being used to meet the EU’s growing demand for biofuels, with the result that food for animals and humans must be grown elsewhere. The search for new farmland often causes the destruction of vital ecosystems, such as forests, savannahs and peat lands across the planet. This releases millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases, accelerating climate change and undermining the climate benefits Europe’s biofuels policy is meant to deliver. Numerous scientific and public authorities agree that ILUC is real and should be accounted for when calculating the potential emissions savings from biofuels.


Greenpeace EU transport policy director Franziska Achterberg +32 4 98362403
Greenpeace EU press desk: +32 (0)2 2741911,

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