EU agrofuels and climate change policies

Despite growing public concern about the social and environmental risks associated to agrofuels (more frequently referred to as biofuels) and their problematic climate impacts, the European Union is throwing its weight behind the promotion of these often very harmful crops. In March 2007, the European Commission proposed targets to increase the use of agrofuels in all road transport fuel to 10 percent by 2020. The Commission is also planning to channel large amounts of EU funds towards the research & development to boost the use of agrofuels.

  • Groups Highlight Brazilian Government’s Damaging Agrofuel Push

    14 November 2008 -- New research from Corporate Europe Observatory reveals how the Brazilian government has been aggressively promoting agrofuels, including ethanol from sugarcane, as sustainable in an attempt to corner the EU market. EU representatives are travelling to Brazil for an International Biofuel Conference, hosted by the Brazilian government from 17-19 November, but CEO and other campaign groups have written to the EU Council, Commission and MEPs to urge them not to be taken in by the Brazilian government’s PR push. They want the EU to stop providing incentives for agrofuel expansion and to drop agrofuel targets in Europe.

  • Call on ENVI committee to drop 10% agrofuel target

    Many groups are now sending letters and calls to demand that agrofuel targets be dropped. On July 7, the Environment Committee of the European Parliament will vote for the first time on the Renewables Directive, and has the opportunity to drop the target.

    7 July vote: Agrofuel target must be dropped - sustainability cannot be guaranteed, Joint letter by Corporate Europe Observatory, Ecologistas en Acción, The Soy Alliance and Verdegaia to the members of the European Parliament's Committee on Environment and Health, 26 June 2008.

  • Round Table set to certify damaging soy, new report says

    On 22 April 2008, a joint report by A SEED Europe, Base Investigaciones Sociales, Corporate Europe Observatory, Grupo de Reflexión Rural and Rain Forest Action Network calls the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) ‘greenwash’. The report is published just before the start of the Round Table on Responsible Soy’s third conference in Buenos Aires. The authors reveal that the Round Table will certify (GM) soy production as ‘responsible’, while not doing anything against soy expansion that destroys small scale farmers and natural ecosystems. Corporations involved in the RTRS are at the same time lobbying for ways to expand their markets and for a break down of the EU GMO policy. The RTRS is turning into an instrument to legitimise the EU’s much criticised push for agrofuels.

  • On 15 January 2008, six organisations and networks have sent a letter of protest to Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik about the ‘Strategic Research Agenda’ and ‘Strategy Deployment Document’ composed by the European Biofuels Technology Platform. This platform, initiated by the European Commission itself, is a highly industry-dominated platform that has been given the opportunity to advise the EU about how public research money should be spent regarding agrofuel research. But not only that. They have shaped this ‘Strategic Research Agenda’ to fit an industry-wished agrofuel target of 25% of all transport needs by 2030; whereas even the Commission’s own scientific body now rejects the 10% target for 2020!

  • Paving the way for Agrofuels - EU policy, Sustainability criteria, and climate calculations, a new report by CEO and Carbon Trade Watch, published 25 September 2007 to coincide with the European Parliament vote on the Thomsen Report on renewable energy.
    A Spanish language version of the report is also available: Preparando el terreno para los agrocombustibles

    The EU is proposing a 10 per cent mandatory target for agrofuel use in transport by 2020. Yet there is strong and growing evidence that, far from reducing emissions, the rush to agrofuels will significantly accelerate climate change, as well as contribute to a range of other social and environmental problems. While criticism of agrofuels grows, EU policy makers are developing ‘sustainability’ criteria and standards for agrofuels and biomass. But such criteria or certification schemes are unable to address the indirect impacts of agrofuel production, such as the displacement of previous land uses. According to the report, EU criteria for ‘sustainable’ agrofuels are set on a collision course with the EU’s proposed target.

  • The EU’s agrofuel folly: policy capture by corporate interests, briefing report by Corporate Europe Observatory (June 2007). The report the documents the influence of industry-dominated advisory bodies and their impact on the EU’s agrofuels policies

  • Letter from Corporate Europe Observatory to Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik expressing strong concern about the dominant role of large oil, car and biotech corporations in bodies advising on the EU’s agrofuels policies, including the spending of EU research funds (June 1st 2007).


Agrofuels - Towards a reality check in nine key areas
The rush for ‘biofuels’ is already causing serious damage, according to a new report by 11 civil society organisations from around the world, including Corporate Europe Observatory. This paper sets out critical concerns regarding the current push to develop agrofuels in transport, especially in industrialised countries.

  • Press release, 3 July 2007: New report calls for ‘reality check’ on biofuels
  • Download the report: Agrofuels - Towards a reality check in nine key areas
  • A Spanish language version of the report is also available: Agrocombustibles; Una revisión crítica de nueve puntos clave
  • More information


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