Did you know that every car in Europe uses a blend of biofuels? Especially Germany and other Nordic countries? This is because of EU law promoting biofuels as a renewable energy to invest in large amounts of money until 2020. And to meet this demand, global production of biofuels has skyrocketed.
You may think ‘bio’ means biofuels are always good for the planet. But because biofuels are derived from plant products, any increase in their use has a direct impact on agriculture worldwide. That means more deforestation is needed to make way for new agricultural land for fuels, releasing the stored-up carbon of rainforests into the air (leaving the environment more vulnerable) and driving up global food prices as a shortage result.
This is the Butterfly Effect of Europe’s biofuels policy. If anyone realizes that this is not a sustainable growth future it will be minimized in the future.
Which future are you working for?
Later this month, the three-year battle to reform Europe’s biofuels policy will resume with a Parliament vote in ENVI Committee on 24 February. Since 2012, biofuel stakeholders have locked horns in an extremely polarised debate about the future of Europe’s biofuels policy. The debate is about the highly complex Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) effects of biofuels.
Background: The EU has a target of 10% renewable energy in transport fuel by the year 2020, contained within the renewable energy directive (RED).
Meanwhile, the fuel quality directive (FQD) requires a 6% reduction in the carbon footprint of transport fuels by the same year.EU negotiators have agreed to a 7% cap on biofuels made from food crops in transport fuel, in a move environmentalists say was a “timid step” in the right direction.
EU’s fuel quality directive establishes a six per cent decarbonisation target for Europe’s transport fuels. This directive is more flexible than the RED, but without the right safeguards in place it is also driving demand for food and energy crops.
This has triggered an increase in agriculture production worldwide. Additional agricultural land has to be created, since the production of biofuels displaces food production to new land. This chain reaction is called indirect land use change (ILUC) and it causes perverse effects like deforestation, land grabbing and rising food prices.
The clearing of forests to plant crops leads to a loss of carbon sinks and therefore to an increase in CO2-emissions. For example, biodiesel is so harmful that it releases more emissions than the fossil diesel it replaces.
A study by the institute for European environmental policy indicates what will happen if we don’t take action. Biofuel demand will lead to more carbon being released into the atmosphere, equivalent to adding 14 to 29 million extra cars onto Europe’s roads. In other words, Europe’s climate policies are creating climate change instead of reducing it.