EU Parliament casts contradictory vote on biofuels

Press release - September 11, 2013
Brussels – In a close vote at the European Parliament today, MEPs supported the increased use of environmentally damaging biofuels, while at the same time called on the EU to account for the destructive effects of these fuels on food production and greenhouse gas emissions.


MEPs voted to cap the use of land-based biofuels to six per cent of energy used in transport in the EU. This is in fact higher than current levels (around 4.5 per cent). MEPs also effectively voted to delay negotiations between the EU institutions, raising questions on whether a final deal on biofuels policy can be achieved before the parliamentary elections in May 2014.

The Parliament was considering a Commission proposal to address the impacts of biofuels used in the EU. These fuels, originally designed to lower the climate impact of European transport, can in fact increase carbon emissions and can even undermine food security, while receiving significant financial support. 

The growth of biofuels has led to the clearing of land for new agricultural space, resulting in deforestation and releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This phenomenon is known as indirect land-use change (ILUC).  The Parliament voted in favour of including ILUC factors in only one of the two relevant laws that were under consideration today. This decision, combined with the failure to curb the growth in biofuel use before 2020, gives a mixed message on the future development of EU transport energy policy, said Greenpeace.

Greenpeace EU forests policy director Sebastien Risso said: “Today’s incoherent vote was clearly the result of horse-trading. The Parliament wants the EU to drive on both sides of the road: to recognise that land-based biofuels are destructive to the environment, but to continue supporting them politically and financially.”

Greenpeace calls on EU countries to stop and reverse the expansion of harmful biofuels. The full carbon footprint of biofuels must be accounted for and public support and subsidies for environmentally and socially damaging biofuels must be phased out. Priority must be given to real solutions for greener transport, including innovative energy efficiency technologies to reduce energy consumption in transport, green mobility in cities, and cars and trains which run on renewable electricity.


Sebastien Risso - Greenpeace EU forests policy director: +32 (0) 496 127 009,

Ed Davitt - Greenpeace media officer: +32 (0)476 988 584,


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Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace. Greenpeace does not accept donations from governments, the EU, businesses or political parties.