EU ministers vote to limit biofuels

13 June 2014

Hunger and harm from biofuels still set to increase

EU energy ministers voted today to limit biofuels to 7% of Europe's transport energy in an attempt to prevent biofuels competing with food and causing deforestation.

The deal comes after months of deadlock, and 20 months after EU Commissioners proposed a tougher 5% limit. Friends of the Earth Europe is warning that hunger and harm caused by biofuels from crops such as palm oil, soy, rapeseed and cereals is still set to increase. A 7% limit means an increase of 50% on today's levels of biofuels use.

Commenting on the outcome of today's vote, Robbie Blake, biofuels campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said:

"Europe's thirst for biofuels is causing people around the world to go hungry, rainforests to be cleared, and global warming to accelerate. This decision to limit their use is welcome but too little and very late. We need to phase out this reckless use of food for fuel completely."

The measures agreed by EU energy ministers include:

  • A limit on biofuels from food crops at 7% of all transport energy in 2020 (up from 4.7% today)
  • Annual reports by the European Commission on indirect land use change emissions
  • A 0.5% indicative non-binding sub-target for so-called 'advanced' biofuels

A recent Friends of the Earth Europe report shows that unless EU biofuels are capped, by 2020 they will occupy 11 million hectares of agricultural land around the world, an area the size of Germany's entire farmland. Bioenergy as a whole will occupy 70 million hectares of land by 2030.

The amendments the Energy Council endorsed today will be sent to the new European Parliament for a 'second reading', likely in Autumn 2014. Friends of the Earth is calling on MEPs to push for a complete phase-out of crop based biofuels.