internal report highlights failings of biofuels
Brussels, 18 January 2008 � A leaked internal European Commission document gives a damning
verdict on the EU's proposals to set a mandatory 10 per cent target for the use
of biofuels in transport. The report, obtained by Friends of the Earth Europe
and BirdLife International, reveals that the EU's biofuels policy is likely to
have a net cost of up to 65 billion euros, need huge amounts of land outside of
Europe and questions whether it will make any greenhouse gas savings at all.
The report, 'Biofuels in the European Context'
was written by the EU's Joint Research Council (JRC), the European Commission's
in-house scientific body. The cost-benefit analysis looks at whether using
agrofuels (also known as biofuels) reduces greenhouse gas emissions, improves
security of supply and creates jobs.
The report gives a clear 'thumbs down' on all
- Greenhouse gas savings:
due to the indirect effects of growing biofuels, the JRC concludes that the,
"uncertainty is too great to say whether the EU 10 per cent target will
save [greenhouse gas emissions] or not". The report highlights that the
greenhouse effect of using nitrogen fertilisers is "significantly
higher" than previous estimates and that land use changes (e.g.
deforestation, draining of peatlands or ploughing grasslands) could potentially
release enough greenhouse gas to negate the savings from EU biofuels.
of supply: the EU would be better to invest in
extra storing capacity to create a strategic oil reserve to buffer short term
supply shocks rather than invest (much higher sums) in biofuels which would
give a limited solution to the problem of insecurity of supply. "There
would be a positive effect, but its value is small compared to the costs,"
the report says.
creation: potential job creation risks being
little more than wishful thinking as jobs created in the biofuels sector are
likely to be offset by job destruction in other sectors affected by the
biofuels target. "The net employment effect of the programme would be
insignificant," according to the JRC.
Cost-benefit analysis: "The costs of
using biofuels outweigh the benefits of doing so," the report states. It
calculates that, "the decrease in welfare caused by imposing a biofuel
target is between 33 and 65 billion euros within an 80 per cent probability
The report finishes by stating that,
"using the same EU resources of money and biomass, significantly greater
[greenhouse gas] savings could be achieved by having only an overall target
instead of a separate one for transport".
The leaked report comes in a week in which
environment and development organisations called for the biofuels target to be
scrapped due to environmental and social problems, and just days before the
European Commission will release its Directive on the promotion of renewable
Agrofuels Campaign Coordinator for Friends of the Earth Europe said: "This report gives a
damning verdict on the EU1s policy for using biofuels. The conclusions are
crystal clear � the EU should abandon biofuels and use
its resources on real solutions to climate change."
Brunner, EU Agriculture Policy Officer for BirdLife International said: "The proposed EU
biofuels policy offers hardly any climate benefits at outstanding environmental
risks. Now that even the Commission1s own experts say so, it is time for the
biofuels target to be set aside and for fresh thinking on how to really tackle
climate change while preserving natural habitats."