Andrew Duff MEP: EU Biofuels Targets

Dear MEP,

I am writing to ask you to vote against the proposed EU targets to increase the use of biofuels in road transport. I would like to thank Andrew Duff and Jeffrey Titford for their replies to my previous email in February.

There is mounting evidence that the large-scale production of biofuels will:

– destroy forests that are some of the world’s most important habitats
– take food and land from the poorest people
– increase, not reduce climate change

Please vote against the biofuels targets. Supporting stronger proposals to improve the fuel efficiency of new vehicles would be a much better way to combat climate change.

Please let me know how you intend to vote.

You can contact me by email or at the following address:

Yours sincerely,

Denis Walker

6 Jun 2008

Subject: RE: Stop the biofuels targets
   Date: 9 June 2008 11:28:22 BST

Dear Denis Walker,

Thank you very much for writing to express your concerns about biofuels.

As you no doubt know, my Liberal Democrat colleagues and I strongly support that European Union’s decision to set binding targets of a 20% cut in greenhouse gases by 2020 – 30% if we get a post-Kyoto global agreement – and a 20% by 2020 target for renewable energy, plus a 20% by 2020 improvement in energy efficiency.

The continued growth of emissions from the transport sector (up 26% since 1990) is particularly worrying for climate change. So every Member State is also required to have 10% of its vehicle fuel as biofuel by 2020.

This biofuels target now gives rise to concern that it may not deliver the intended CO2 reductions, may damage environmental sustainability and biodiversity and may contribute to the rise in food prices because of competition in agriculture between food and fuel.

The most effective way to cut emissions from the transport sector, as from other sectors, is not biofuels but energy efficiency. A modal shift is needed away from the most energy-consuming forms of transport (air and road) to more efficient rail. Bringing aviation into the Emissions Trading Scheme is essential; and EU governments should also tax aviation kerosene.

For road transport, the Commission has proposed to cut CO2 emissions from the current average of 160 gms per km to 130 gms per km by 2012. Improved engine technology makes this perfectly possible, and, although the car industry squeals, further cuts could be made by using better tyres and more efficient LED headlamps.

Following the controversy over the biofuels target, the Commission is now proposing a 10% target for "renewable energy from transport". This is a significant change from the 10% "biofuels target" agreed by national leaders in March 2007. It means that the target can be met through renewable electricity, biogas and green hydrogen.

Biofuels should only be supported if they conform to very strict sustainability criteria. EU biofuels must induce a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of at least 35%; they must not come from land of high carbon stock: undisturbed forest, wetlands, nature protection zones, or species-rich grassland.

We are now considering strengthening these sustainability criteria raising the reduction target to 50%, and including land use, water consumption and the cost and availability of foodstuffs. It is essential that the effects of these criteria should be kept under strict review.

The EU must also take measures to stop the use of unsustainable biofuels. The biofuels market is fast expanding because of the rise in the price of oil. Future oil price hikes could cause an unregulated boom in unsustainable biofuels, notably in Brazil. That is why the development of an indigenous European sustainable biofuels industry is so important. Europe will only be in a position to insist on sustainability measures globally if we have established a sound framework and market for sustainable biofuels and biomass within the EU. For that reason, I am in favour of keeping the 10% renewable energy target for transport.

Thank you once again for writing on such an important issue.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Duff MEP

Leader, UK Liberal Democrat European Parliamentary Party

Spokesman on Constitutional Affairs for the Alliance of Liberals and
Democrats for Europe (ALDE)

European Parliament
10 G 346
60, Rue Wiertz
B-1047 Brussels

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