Oxfam's EU Advocacy office in Brussels

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.

There next crucial step is coming up on 17 January, as Members of the European Parliament will vote on a final deal on the renewable energy policy. Activists and citizens are calling on them to stop the destructive effects of the EU’s artificially-inflated thirst for biofuels and to instead support truly renewable energy, for the sake of people and planet.

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.

 

Call on your MEP to take action: sign the letter to stop burning our forests and food for fuel: stopbadbioenergy.eu

 

 

To find out more about the concerns and demands of Oxfam and other NGOs:

Marc Herman is Oxfam International’s EU Economic Justice Policy Lead, based in Brussels.

 

This article was updated following the result of votes in the European Parliament’s Environment and Industry Committees and in a meeting of European energy ministers.

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