The EU's reputation for clean and sustainable energy conceals a dirtier reality, particularly where renewable energy policies and development are driven by corporate interests. Today, nearly two thirds of all “renewable” energy in the EU comes from bio-energy. Although bio-energy appears to provide a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels, there are serious questions about its actual emissions profile, and about environmental and social conflicts which are created or exacerbated by the industrial-scale production of biomass to meet European energy needs.
The European Union’s approach to bioenergy is shaped by contradictory policies. Climate concerns are highlighted in public discourse and assure broad public support for renewable energy, including bioenergy. Meanwhile, however, the EU’s corporate growth and trade agenda promotes the use of energy that actually increases the EU’s footprint on land elsewhere, with significant implications for environmental and social justice.
A series of infographics that expose the massive concentration of land in Europe. Over the last decade, the EU has lost a third of all its small farms, 3% of its farms now own 52% of farm land, and land inequality has become worse than wealth inequality.
In Europe, land speculation and land concentration are an increasing threat to small and medium sized family farms and new entrants. Soaring land prices make it increasingly difficult for farmers to have access to land. In the meantime, investors are buying up enormous pieces of land, sometimes using legal loopholes. Land is increasingly becoming a globally tradable commodity and an object of financial speculation. Examples such as Scotland and Andalusia, where arable land, pastures and forests are highly concentrated since centuries, show the negative effects for sustainable rural development and societies as a whole.
Europe’s young and aspiring farmers will face increasing barriers to entry as land is rapidly concentrated in relatively few big farms. Land is even more unevenly distributed than wealth. A steep decline in Europe’s small farms is underway with damaging consequences for food security, employment, and development.
The new publication ‘Connecting Smallholders to Markets’ supports advocacy efforts by social movements on market issues by making the recommendations adopted at the Committee on World Food Security more understandable and accessible.
Frontline communities and social movements around the world explain why we need to keep our hands on the land for food sovereignty and climate justice! This includes the false solutions they are presented with against climate change, and the real solutions and ways forward that small-scale food producers promote.
The bioeconomy is promoted as a response to current global social and environmental crises, with its promise of replacing fossil fuels with ‘renewable’ biological resources. How does it play out on the ground? Who wins and who loses? And what are the alternatives?