Drive for Ban on Bio-Fuels

The following is the response made to our local MEP concerning the production of bio-fuels:

“Thank you for your email to Keith Taylor MEP, which he has asked me to respond to on his behalf.

Keith and his Green group colleagues in the European Parliament fully share your concerns about the use of food crops in biofuels, and the implications for wildlife, the environment and food security, particularly in developing countries. Feeding crops into cars has fuelled rising food prices and rainforest destruction. With climate change already putting pressure on the global food supply and food prices, the EU should not be further exacerbating these trends by promoting the use of agricultural land for fuel.

Keith strongly believes that Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) emissions should be taken into account when assessing biofuels production. ILUC may refer, for example, to the deforestation which takes place to make way for the production of foodstuffs for use in biofuels, which unintentionally increases carbon emissions worldwide, increasing pollution resulting from pesticide and threatening food security. As you are probably aware, this means that total emissions from first generation biofuels are often higher than conventional fossil fuels.

Keith has voted on aspects of the Commission’s biofuels proposal in two committees in the European Parliament – the Development Committee (DEVE) and the Transport and Tourism Committee (TRAN). The Greens welcome the proposal for ILUC factors to be included in calculations on the greenhouse gas balance under the EU Fuel Quality Directive from 2020 onwards. These emissions will also be included in the sustainability criteria as part of the greenhouse gas savings threshold under the EUís Renewable Energy legislation. This will help steer future investments in a sustainable direction.

Currently, the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive specifies that 10% of fuel used for transport should be made up of renewable fuels. The Commission is proposing a cap, so that biofuels cannot make up more than 5% of the 10% renewable fuel target. In his Committee work, Keith called for a lowering of the 5% cap and for total greenhouse gas emissions for biofuels and bioliquids to be progressively decreased. Keith is against the use of foods crops as fuel altogether. Unfortunately, due to pressure from other political groups, the results of the Committee votes on the percentage of the cap were very mixed. The final cap will not be decided until all the MEPs vote on this issue in plenary tomorrow.

Although there have been some key improvements on the issue of biofuels emissions in the Committees’ voting, the current proposals still do not go far enough. Keith believes the 10% target incentivises biofuels production and has led to increased investment in first generation biofuels by Member States attempting to fulfil the requirements of the target. He has tabled an amendment to the September plenary which calls for the 10% target to be withdrawn. This would have an immediate effect to diminish the scale of biofuels production, which would ensure that crops are reserved for people and not for cars.

The biofuels legislation will now go on to the European Parliament in Strasbourg to be voted on at a plenary session of the Parliament on 11th September. The Greens will be urging MEPs to vote for a forward-thinking and sustainable biofuels policy, which does not aggravate food scarcity in developing countries.

Keith has also been raising awareness of the adverse effects of biofuels in his constituency. To this end, Keith has been travelling around the South East in order to urge local councils to refuse planning permission to build biofuel power stations. You can read more about this on Keith’s website: http://www.keithtaylormep.org.uk/2011/03/25/green-mep-visits-southampton-to-tell-council-%e2%80%9cbiofuels-are-not-the-solution-to-citys-energy-needs%e2%80%9d/

Katy Cadwallader, Constituency Caseworker, Office of Keith Taylor MEP,Green Party MEP for South East England.”

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