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EU Biofuel Target to Cost €126 billion

Biofuel Pump IllistrationThe Friends of the Earth and ActionAid say that European Union policies to promote biofuel use for transportation will cost consumers up to €126 billion between now and 2020. The fuels also probably won’t reduce greenhouse gases, as forests will be chopped down so that biofuel plantations can be developed. Meanwhile, the European Commission says that it’s reasonable for drivers to pay more, as biofuels cost more than fossil fuels.

The EU wants to produce 10% of its transport energy from biofuels, renewable power and hydrogen by 2020 in an aim to reduce the 27 member states’ emissions by 20% compared to 1990 levels. The two campaign groups say that these goals will add between €94 billion and €126 billion to fuel costs by 2020. These figures were the result of an analysis carried out by independent consultant Malcolm Fergusson for the two groups. Fergusson was the previous head of climate change policy at the environment agency for the UK government.

Friends of the Earth Europe biofuels campaigner Robbie Blake says taxpayers and consumers are paying a premium for the policy, which will achieve very little. They believe it will cause a lot of damage to the environment, poverty and hunger. What needs to be focused on is reducing transport energy by improving public transport and energy efficiency in vehicles, he added. Kenneth Richter, another biofuels campaigner, said that the government continues to talk about reducing costs, but billions are being paid for biofuels that do nothing to boost the economy or battle climate change. This money would do better to improve bus and train services, make cycling much safer for short journeys and promote cleaner cars.

Friends of the Earth Scotland chief executive Stan Blackley says that they already know demand for biofuels is leading to increased greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation due to land use changes, while global food prices are rising and millions of poor people are being driven from their land. This report shows that the policy will cost $15 billion a year for consumers across Europe. Rather than use more biofuels to fuel vehicles, the transport sector should be decarbonised and more investment should be made in public transport and active travel measures to reduce the need for people to travel at all; shift travellers to more environment-friendly, sustainable and healthy types of transport; and in reducing travel overall.

ActionAid European policy and campaigns manager Laura Sullivan says biofuels are expensive, and the EU’s targets aren’t reducing emissions but increasing hunger and global food prices. Decision-makers in the EU had to pull the targets and subsidies for biofuels and, instead, invest in genuine carbon-cutting solutions, she added. UK Head of Policy Meredith Alexander says the UK has to axe its biofuel targets, as the brunt will hit poor people in developing nations, the environment and motorists. Pump prices will be higher, along with carbon emissions. More biofuel production will be disastrous to food prices and more people will be driven from their land and into hunger.

EU energy spokeswoman Marlene Holzner says that the biofuels target may cause a 6% rise in cereal prices and 10% jump in rapeseed costs. The effects on food prices are being monitored by the commission. Pursuing renewables is necessary, as efficiency improvements won’t achieve the carbon reduction needed on their own. Most renewable energy is more expensive than fossil fuel right now, but it’s important to acknowledge the financing for it as growth-enhancing expenditure that will deliver more return in the future. It’s reasonable that consumers of motor fuels pay for the expense, she added.

 

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