Bioenergy policy must stop supporting first generation biofuels, whose production is linked to the worldwide eviction of thousands of people from their lands, out-competing food crops, and creating more not less pollution, says Oxfam International.
First generation biofuels, derived from sources like starch, sugar, animal fats and vegetable oil, have been promoted by the EU as a renewable alternative to fossil fuels in the EU's transport sector policy.
This has created a large market for the import of these materials into the EU, putting pressure on lands far beyond Europe’s borders argues Oxfam, with over 40% of the land needed to grow crops for EU energy lying outside of Europe.
Oxfam tracked the impact of the industry and details cases of communities suffering from loss of land and rights abuses in Tanzania, Peru and Indonesia as result of the ever increasing demand from Europe for crops to produce energy.
As a result, Oxfam is calling on the EU to invest more in fuel sources that are genuinely sustainable both from a social and environmental perspective, such as the second generation butanol being developed by ButaNexT. These second generation fuels instead utilise local feedstocks that do not compete with food production, or contribute to indirect land use change.
Oxfam’s intervention is particularly timely with the Commission currently reviewing its Renewable Energy Directive, which includes biofuels policy.