Brussels, Belgium — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 08 November 2010 – Bio-fuels targets in the European Union (EU) could raise emissions of greenhouse gases, because forests and wetlands will be destroyed to grow the necessary crops, according to a study by nine environmental groups.
Energy targets for 23 of the EU’s 27 members suggest that 9.5% of the bloc’s transportation energy will come from bio-fuels by 2020, said the groups, which include Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and Action Aid. The crops may need an area twice the size of Belgium, and clearing the necessary land could make the fuels 167% more polluting for the climate than sticking with gasoline and diesel, they claimed.
“Bio-fuels are not a climate-friendly solution to our energy needs,” Action Aid European policy and campaigns manager Laura Sullivan said in the statement. “The EU plans effectively give companies a blank cheque to continue grabbing land from the world’s poor by growing bio-fuels.”
The EU aims to get 10% of its energy for transportation from bio-fuels, hydrogen and renewable power by 2020. The target is meant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by that date.
EU energy spokeswoman Marlene Holzner said the targets required less land than the study suggested, and that EU guidelines prevented the use of deforested land.
“The Renewable Directive says very clearly that it is not allowed to chop down forests to produce bio-fuels,” Holzner said in an e-mail. “The same goes for drained peatland, wetland or highly bio-diverse areas.”
The study by the campaign groups estimated 69 000 square kilometers would be needed.
On June 10, the EU set up controls to ensure bio-fuels, which are made primarily from crops such as rapeseed, wheat, corn and sugar, do not come from forests, wetlands and nature reserves.