Renewable energy. The European Commission has proposed to cap the use of food-based biofuels for transport to 5 percent. Photo by: European Commission

The European Commission proposed Wednesday (Oct. 17) to cap the use of food-based biofuels for transport to 5 percent. But a number of nongovernmental organizations felt the move was not enough to address their concerns on biofuels’ impact on food security.

The proposed amendments to current EU legislation “fall far short of what is needed to address the flaws of a policy that is fuelling hunger and land grabs around the world,” Oxfam said in a statement.

The anti-poverty group reiterated the need to “phase out” crop-based fuels, which promote land grabs and drive up food prices and exacerbate food insecurity in many developing countries.

ActionAid shared the same sentiment. While the organization saw the commission’s move as “an important symbolic first step,” it does not ban food- and land-based fuels completely.

“We have seen land grabs and food prices skyrocketing in recent years, largely fuelled by biofuels targets and subsidies,” ActionAid International Head of Campaigns Belinda Calaguas said in a statement. “ActionAid has serious doubts as to whether this new policy will do anything to change that.”

Both NGOs, which have released a series of reports on the harm biofuels do to communities, also put on the spotlight the lack of a proposal on fully dealing with greenhouse gas emissions. Fossil fuels are largely blamed for climate change, but Oxfam biofuels expert Marc Olivier Herman said food- and land-based biofuels are even “more polluting than fossil fuels.”

In the proposal, the commission requires biofuel suppliers to report on emissions from indirect land-use change. But the proposal does not hold suppliers accountable for these emissions, Greenpeace said to Bloomberg.

The European Union employs biofuels as a way to meet its 10 percent renewable energy target for transport by 2020. The commission said in a press release, however, that “it has become clear that not all biofuels are the same, in terms of their greenhouse gas impacts from global land use.”

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.

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