Wednesday, September 19, 2012

EU caps bio-fuel use, but is it enough?

The European Commission usage of bio-fuels has had quite a few unintended consequences. Their policy of mandating some usage of bio-fuels has increased food prices, led to more hunger and destroyed rain forests. The EU now admits to at least the last point, and is now changing policy to stop it. But some hunger advocates say it is still not enough.

From the Inter Press Service, writer Daan Bauwns has this analysis. 
According to the existing European rules at least 10 percent of the EU’s transport energy must come from renewable sources by 2020, primarily through biofuels derived from wheat, soy or rapeseed. But in an unprecedented move, EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger and Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard announced Monday that the European Commission (EC) is planning to limit the use of crop-based biofuel to five percent in the total share of renewables in transport fuel.
Just ahead of the meeting, international NGO Oxfam released a new report which demonstrates that Europe’s hunger for biofuels is pushing up global food prices and driving people off their land, resulting in deeper hunger and malnutrition in poor countries.
According to the NGO, despite soy and maize prices being at all-time highs in July and prices of cereals and oil remaining at peak levels in August, the Commission and most governments seemed to turn a blind eye to the devastating impacts that EU biofuels mandates have on food prices and land rights.
“I’m happy the EC is finally recognising the fact that the use of food-crops for fuel is problematic,” says Ruth Kelly, Oxfam’s economic policy advisor and writer of Oxfam’s new report, “but putting a cap of 5 percent on biofuel consumption is ridiculous. At this moment the biofuel use in the EU is only at 4.5 percent. So the new cap of 5 percent is actually an increase of what we’re using at the moment.

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