The European Union’s biofuel policy continues to threaten food security and increase land grabs in Africa, shows a new report to be presented today in Brussels by the EuropAfrica platform and FIAN, ‘(Bio)fueling injustice: Europe’s responsibility to counter climate change without provoking land grabbing and compounding food insecurity in Africa’.
The report is released as the EU is set to review its biofuel policy in 2012 in line with environmental impacts.
“Imported industrial biofuels for European renewable energy exacerbate land grabs in Africa and fuel violations of the right to food”, says Nora McKeon coordinator of EuropAfrica. “The EU has to realise that its energy and agricultural policies have global impacts, often affecting the most vulnerable in poor countries. Decision makers cannot ignore the evidence; it’s time for a total re-think of biofuel policy”
The view from Africa
The report shows that 66% of the land grabs in Africa are intended for biofuel production, some 18.8 million hectares. Among the biggest investors are companies from Europe, as case studies from Senegal and Mali show, with European investments likely to increase further.
“We want to grow food for people in Africa, not for fuelling cars in Europe. The switch to biofuel crops in Senegal has been a failure. Productivity has fallen sharply since we started trying the Jatropha biofuel crop, and many farmers are feeling cheated. We call on the European Union to drop its renewable energy target for biofuels until measures are in place which ensure that the right to food is not violated” said Marius Dia, of CNCR - Conseil National de Concertation et de Coopération des ruraux du Sénégal.
EU driving global biofuel production
Despite contrary claims, the EU is highly dependent on imports. Already in 2008, the EU imported almost 40 percent of its biofuels or biofuel feedstock.
“The European Union’s biofuel policy explicitly encourages increased production worldwide, imposing an export-oriented industrial farming model on food insecure countries,” Roman Herre from FIAN explains. “The policy does not provide any protection from land grabs in countries affected by hunger, which should be discouraged from producing biofuels destined for the European Union”
Violations of international human rights law
The study further finds that the EU and its Member States violate their human rights obligations by not having conducted an adequate assessment of the impact of the biofuel policy on human rights and by not regulating European companies and financial actors.
“The EU’s good intention to fight climate change by promoting renewable energy is turning into a disaster. Europe is outsourcing its production, getting a ready supply of biofuels at the expense of the environment and people in the developing world. Biofuels are a perfect example of how EU policies aren’t coherent with development objectives and the legal provision of policy coherence for development,” says Blandine Bouniol, Policy Coordinator at CONCORD, the European NGO Confederation of Relief and Development NGOs.