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Controls on Biofuel Vital to Help Stop Forest Destruction


Greenpeace calls for EU-Latin America summit to adopt environmental biofuel criteria in climate change fight

Lima, Peru — The European Union must adopt strict environmental controls for biofuel production, Greenpeace warned on the eve of the EU-Latin America V Summit being held in Lima, Peru on 16 May (1). Large scale production of biofuels threatens the region’s forests and other natural environments, which are vital to tackling climate change.

Today, 10 Greenpeace activists unfurled a banner in the ruins of Peru’s Machu Picchu, calling for action -- “DANGER BIOFUELS: SAVE THE FOREST, SAVE THE CLIMATE”; sending a message to officials attending the V Summit as well as to those who will attend the United Nations Biodiversity Summit in Bonn, Germany in four days’ time (2).

In 2003, the European Union agreed that by 2010, 5.75 per cent of fuels in the EU should come from biofuel; and in 2007 it was proposed that by 2020, it be mandatory for 10 per cent of all fuel in the EU to come from biofuel.

“Because the EU has set a biofuel target above its production capacity, it is looking to Latin America to become a key biofuel supplier. This will increase environmental degradation across the region and divert land to growing crops for fuel rather than food,” said Juan Carlos Villalonga, Greenpeace Argentina Political Director.

The use of food crops such as corn, soya, rape seed or sugar cane for the production of biofuels, contributes to the reduction of arable land available adding pressure, either directly or indirectly, on tropical rainforests and savannahs.

“The EU must reject these dangerous biofuel targets and focus instead on ensuring its sources for biofuel are sustainable and do not threaten forests and other natural land critical to fighting climate change. By pushing for biofuels as a quick solution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, governments in industrialised countries are creating more problems than solutions,” said Wolfgang Richert Bioenergy Policy Advisor at Greenpeace International.

Greenpeace is calling for the EU and Latin American Summit to adopt sustainability criteria for the growing of biofuels. To qualify as sustainable, biofuels must produce at least 60 per cent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than fossil fuel equivalents; not cause direct or indirect land-use changes; be produced environmentally and socially responsibly; and must not threaten food security, particularly in developing countries.

In Latin America and the Caribbean deforestation rates are amongst the world’s highest, with 64 million hectares of forest destroyed between 1990 and 2005. The destruction of tropical forests worldwide accounts for approximately 20 per cent of global greenhouse emissions each year, more than is produced by the entire global transport sector.


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