Environmental groups say EU's biofuel targets will raise greenhouse gas emissions
(ADPnews) - Nov 8, 2010 - The European Union's (EU) biofuel targets may lead to a surge in greenhouse gas emissions due to the need to sacrifice wetlands and forests to grow crops, according to a study by nine environmental groups, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and ActionAid included.
The environmental organisations project that in order to reach EU's target of generating 9.5% of its transportation energy from biofuels by 2020, plantations should stretch on an area twice as big as Belgium. Thus, pollution resulting from the clearing of enough land for biofuel crops may be 167% higher than that from the use of gasoline and diesel, the study estimates.
"The Renewable Directive says very clearly that it is not allowed to chop down forests to produce biofuels," EU energy spokeswoman Marlene Holzner said in an interview for news agency Bloomberg. The rule also applies to wetland, peatland and highly biodiverse zones, she added.
Holzner also said that the cropland needed to meet the targets is less than the organisations' estimates of 6.9 million hectares (17 million acres). She said that plantations would cover 2 million to 5 million hectares, with enough available land within the borders of the EU. In addition, she rebuffed assumptions that biofuels have a "devastating" effect on food security and can lead to an increase in food prices, saying that the surge in food prices between 2007 and 2009 was not at all due to the biofuel sector.