Paving the way for Agrofuels

EU policy, sustainability criteria, and climate calculations
25 September 2007

In the face of the climate change threat and the increasing scarcity of fossil fuels, agrofuels are being heavily promoted as a means to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The EU is proposing a 10 per cent mandatory target for agrofuel use in transport by 2020. Yet there is strong and growing evidence that, far from reducing emissions, the rush to agrofuels will significantly accelerate climate change, as well as contributing to a range of other social and environmental problems. As criticism of agrofuels grows, the European Commission, various EU governments and international bodies are now developing ‘sustainability’ criteria and standards for their use. But it is unlikely that any set of criteria can mitigate against the large-scale impact of agrofuels, such as the expansion of plantations for energy crops, which are directly and indirectly promoting land use changes (including deforestation) and agricultural intensification. Paving the way for Agrofuels – EU policy, sustainability criteria, and climate calculations summarises EU policy making on agrofuels to date. It provides a full survey of current international efforts to develop ‘sustainability’ standards, drawing attention to problems with existing certification schemes, in particular their failure to consult affected groups in the global South. A survey of the scientific literature on greenhouse gas emissions shows that many of the existing studies fail to consider crucial variables, such as the ‘displacement’ effect of agrofuels in terms of land use changes and soil carbon losses. Finally, the paper looks at the possibility that agrofuel production could in future be funded through the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol, which would provide a huge financial boost to the expansion of agrofuel plantations.

Introduction: the agrofuel push 1: EU policy to boost agrofuels 2: Sustainability certification of agrofuels 3: Agrofuels in a changing climate 4: Carbon funding - financial fertiliser for agrofuels Summary and conclusions: an unsustainable path Press release .

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