Green party

Greens call for an end to Biofuels

19 September 2007

UK Green Party votes for an immediate moratorium on agrofuels from large scale monocultures

At its Pary conference in Liverpool, The Green Party of England and Wales delivered near unanimous support for a halt in the use of large scale biofuels. The vote to support the call for an EU Moratorium on large scale biofuel monocultures (known as agrofuels) is now enshrined in Green Party policy along with a host of other precautionary elements aimed at preventing runaway global warming through accelerated deforestation. The moratorium, launched by a nucleus of NGOs, has now been signed by nearly 200 environmental and humanitarian organisations across the globe.

The strength of the vote reflects a growing concern by the general public in the last six months that agrofuels are causing significantly more harm than good. On top of the destruction of ecosystems, agrofuels are precipitating a human rights problem of epic proportions as agrofuel speculators are seizing arable land as well as evicting indigenous peoples from their forest homes. Food prices are escalating, putting basic staples outside of the reach of families living close to the bread line - even in European countries, as evidenced by Italy's 'pasta strike' this week and rising UK bread prices.

Caroline Lucas, Green MEP, who signed the EU Moratorium soon after it was first launched in July, said:

"We have to de-couple the food and oil markets - by cutting agriculture's dependence on oil, by promoting local and organic food systems where possible and reversing the UK's current enthusiasm for international trade in food, and, crucially, ensure EU energy policies do not promote bio-fuel production at the expense of foodstuffs.

"The problem of food insecurity risks being exacerbated by EU energy policy, which calls for the large-scale cultivation of crops for conversion into bio-fuels, thus creating competition between food and energy for agricultural resources.

"This in turn will decrease the amount of land given over to food production as energy prices rise - causing global food shortages exactly when we should be boosting food production to maintain stable prices.

"To avoid jumping from the frying pan of climate change into the fire of food poverty it's now time for the EU to abandon its proposed biofuel targets and incentives legislation."

Links

1. Call for an immediate moratorium on EU incentives for agrofuels, EU imports of agrofuels and EU agroenergy monocultures - www.econexus.info

2. For information, resources and campaigns against agrofuels - biofuelwatch.org.uk

3. Green Party Motion on Biofuels in full -

CC219 In line with party policy on applying the precautionary principle, the Green Party calls for an immediate moratorium on agrofuels from large-scale monocultures - a period for scientists and policy makers in the EU and western nations to gain a greater understanding of the true impacts on the social, human rights, land rights, climate impact, and biodiversity impact issues. The Green Party supports the Agrofuels Moratorium Call launched in July 2007 in Brussels (supported by over 100 organisations in its first week).Agrofuels is the term coined to describe liquid fuels from biomass, which consists of crops and trees grown specifically for that purpose on a large-scale.

The majority of biofuels are made from large-scale monocultures of oil palms, sugar cane, soya, maize, sugar beet, oilseed rape and jatropha. They contribute substantially more to greenhouse gas emissions by nitrous oxide emissions from fertiliser use and by land conversion, than are saved by burning slightly less fossil fuels. As such agrofuels are set to significantly accelerate climate change. Other problems include bio-diversity losses, water and soil degradation, human rights abuses (including the impoverishment and dispossession of local populations) and the loss of food sovereignty and food security. The impacts seen today result from a less than 1% market penetration of biofuels in Europe yet the EU target is 10% by 2020 and the UK are aiming for 5% by 2010. The European demand for biofuels is pushing up commodity prices and thus encouraging multi-billion dollar investment in infrastructure and refineries linked to large-scale deforestation. The impacts of this investment could be irreversible and will open up tens of millions of hectares of virgin forest to land conversion and logging. An immediate moratorium is the only way to put the breaks on such disastrous investment decisions.

CC221. The moratorium would apply to European and British public sector incentives for agrofuels and agroenergy from large-scale monocultures, including tree plantations, and a moratorium on EU imports of such agrofuels. This includes the immediate suspension of all targets, incentives such as tax breaks and subsidies which benefit agrofuels from large-scale monocultures, including financing through carbon trading mechanisms, international development aid or loans from international finance organisations such as the World Bank. The moratorium called for by the signatories will apply only to agrofuels from large-scale monocultures (and GM biofuels) and their trade. It does not include biofuels from waste, such as waste vegetable oil or biogas from manure or sewage, or biomass grown and harvested sustainably by and for the benefit of local communities, rather than on large-scale monocultures.

CC222 The Green Party also calls for a moratorium on the use and development of genetically engineered crops and trees, microbes and fungi for the production of any biofuels including agrofuels, due to the high environmental risks involved in GM technology.