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Local Friends of the Earth campaigners challenge Euro MP Gary Titley over ‘barmy’ biofuels

news release

Photos of meetings with Gary Titley and various other MEPs are available at:

Campaigners from Manchester Friends of the Earth [1] and Bury Friends of the Earth met Euro MP Gary Titley in Radcliffe last Friday, 17th October, to hand over some of the postcards signed by more than 2,000 North West residents in response to Friends of the Earth’s campaign against EU plans to increase the amount of biofuels in our petrol. [2]

Euro MPs are under increasing pressure to drop targets for the plant-based fuels in light of mounting evidence that growing crops for fuel drives up food prices [3], destroys rainforests and wildlife, and can increase carbon dioxide emissions [4].

Local Friends of the Earth campaigners believe there are much better ways to reduce our dangerous dependence on fossil fuels and are visiting Gary Titley MEP to make the case for truly green transport solutions. The campaign group say politicians should help people save money and cut carbon emissions by voting for smarter cars that burn less fuel, better public transport, and safer routes for people to walk and cycle.

Euro MPs will vote on biofuels targets this autumn. The measures will force all EU countries to use at least 10 per cent biofuels in transport by 2020. Friends of the Earth campaigners are calling on them to drop the biofuels targets and make car manufacturers double fuel efficiency in new vehicles instead.

Manchester Friends of the Earth campaigner, Ali Abbas said:

“Biofuels are a false solution to climate change. Not only are they making climate change worse, they are also pushing food prices through the roof. It’s frankly unacceptable that the EU wants us to force people into starvation just to provide more fuel to feed our vehicles.

“Euro MPs like Gary Titley now have the fate of millions in their hands. Instead of setting barmy biofuels targets, we need real green transport solutions to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and step up to the challenge of climate change – like serious investment in public transport and strict targets to force car manufacturers to make smarter cars that burn less fuel.”

Gary Titley MEP said:

“Renewable energy offers a sustainable and long term alternative to fossil fuels. But we have been absolutely clear at every stage that sustainability is key. It should not mean rising food prices or the destruction of rainforests. And biofuels will have to provide big savings on emissions.

“We are continuing to use all the available evidence to make absolutely certain the EU’s biofuel policy is effective and sustainable.”


Notes to Editors

[1] Manchester Friends of the Earth is an award-winning environmental campaign group, raising awareness and lobbying for policy changes at a local, regional, national and international level. The group consists entirely of volunteers, and its campaigns are funded by membership fees and individual donations. Up-to-date information is available on its website: Manchester Friends of the Earth is part of a network of over 220 local Friends of the Earth groups (further information can be found at

[2] Biofuels are fuels made from crops such as soy, rapeseed and oil palm. In April 2008 the UK Government introduced a biofuel obligation requiring 2.5 per cent of the fuel supplied for UK road transport in 2008-9 to be biofuel. The Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation will increase by 1.25 per cent a year to 5 per cent in 2010/11. Friends of the Earth opposes this target and EU plans to increase the quantity of biofuels we use to 10 per cent of all transport fuel by 2020.

[3] A report by the World Bank, recently leaked to a UK newspaper (A Note on Rising Food Prices, 4 July 2008), showed that the growth of crops for fuel has been responsible for the lion’s share of global food price rises over the last six years. Friends of the Earth believes the study – reportedly the most detailed analysis of the food crisis so far – leaves MEPs with a moral imperative to scrap biofuels targets.

[4] The UK Government’s recent review into the damaging impacts of biofuels (July 2008) found that current policies, if left unchecked, will reduce biodiversity and may even cause an increase in greenhouse gas emissions rather than savings.

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