On October 7th, 2011, 168 scientists have warned on the so-called “biofuels” in a joint letter addressed to the EU. Energy derived from field crops is by no means environmentally friendly, despite the European Union’s claims.
“To promote biofuels as being carbon neutral cannot be supported scientifically”, the researchers said. In favour of agro-energy, the rain forests are clear-cut and world hunger is exacerbated because of rising food prices.
“When land used for food production is converted to grow biofuel crops on it, the agriculture expands at other places. This often leads to new deforestation and the destruction of natural ecosystems, especially in the tropical areas of the developing countries”, the researchers state on their website. “This is not meant to describe a future development, but it is already taking place right now.”
Furthermore, the scientists explain in their letter: “If the change in land use is not taken into account by the EU, the target set for renewable energy in the transport sector will not lead to real carbon savings in practice. It would be nothing more than a paper exercise that promotes widespread deforestation and rising food prices.”
The call to protest is caused by the European Commission’s attempts at continuing its failed policies on harmful biofuels at any price. The Commission has specifically ordered studies that were subsequently held back or rewritten, because they did not produce the desired results concerning carbon savings made from biofuels.
The enormous land use under energy crops poses the main problem. In order to provide the quota of ten per cent of renewable energy in the transport sector set by the EU, several million hectares of arable land have to be assigned to the cultivation of energy crops. Since agricultural land is in short supply worldwide, the required space is often created at the expense of food production and tropical forests. With regard to its plans, Europe is dependent on the ever increasing imports of biodiesel made from palm oil and soy as well as ethanol produced from maize and sugarcane.
The signatories of the document rely on scientific facts and are above suspicion of being influenced by any interests. They work in different areas of the scientific and the industrial sector. Among them are Kenneth Arrow, Nobel laureate and professor emeritus at Stanford University, and Daniel Kammen, chief technical specialist for renewable energy at the World Bank.
The European Union and the Federal Government must take action now. Instead of simply switching from fossil to agricultural energy sources, our excessive power consumption has to be curbed drastically. Once and for all, the gas guzzlers have to be banished from the streets, while the public transport systems need to be expanded.
The PASC launched its campaign against agrofuels in 2004 in solidarity with the accompanied communities in the Bajo Atrato, in the Choco region.