By Marc Herman
The European Union is currently reviewing policies crucial for Europe’s response to the two most pressing challenges of our time: ending hunger and fighting climate change. The European Parliament and member states are about to decide on new rules for the EU’s renewable energy policy until 2030. It is their chance to end a policy which has been captured by a powerful industry lobby, that destroys the livelihoods of people worldwide – and does not even fight climate change.
In a crucial step, members of the European Parliament’s Environment committee will hold a key vote on the new reform on 23 October. Votes in the Parliament’s Industry committee and in the Plenary will follow later this year, and member states are expected to seal a deal with the Parliament in 2018.
Profits for big business, and the poor made to pay
The current policy on renewable energy, which runs until 2020, introduced a so-called ‘renewable energy’ target for transport. Biofuel mandates and other forms of state aid have allowed the biofuel industry to rake in billions of euros through tax exemptions and from consumers obliged to pay more at the pump, while vulnerable people around the globe are made to pay the price.
The chain of destruction through communities
The EU’s bioenergy policies have also led to an explosion of the EU’s imports of palm oil from Indonesia, where the livelihoods of communities are threatened by the abusive practices of companies in the supply chain of European biofuel producers. A similar pattern of destruction is now emerging in Latin America, where indigenous communities of the Amazon are being dispossessed of their ancestral forest and land.
That’s in addition to the climate catastrophe caused by mass deforestation and the draining of peatland for biofuel production. In most cases biofuels are in fact worse for greenhouse gas emissions than fossil fuels.
Feed people, not climate change
In a world where hunger is on the rise again, using food for fuel and burning up our planet should be something of the past. EU biofuel targets must be scrapped. Members of the European Parliament and member states governments must set the EU on track to meet its climate goals. This is only possible through a truly ambitious renewable energy that does not rely on unsustainable bioenergy.
MEPs and EU governments must vote against a binding renewable energy target for transport and in favour of ending support to crop-based biofuels.
To find out more about the concerns and demands of Oxfam and other NGOs:
- Read a summary of what is at stake: ‘Bioenergy laid bare: fuelling climate change, fuelling hunger’
- Read Oxfam’s report: ‘Burning land, burning the climate’
Marc Herman is Oxfam International’s EU Economic Justice Policy Lead, based in Brussels.Oxfam International EU Advocacy