Local Friends of the Earth campaigners challenge Euro MP Chris Davies over ‘barmy’ biofuels

5th September 2008
news
release

Photo Opportunity:Chris Davies MEP with Friends of the Earth campaigners

When: 1pm, Friday 5th September
Where: 87a Castle Street, Edgeley, Stockport, SK3 9AR

Campaigners from Stockport and Manchester Friends of the Earth will meet Euro MP Chris Davies this Friday, 5th September, to hand over postcards signed by more than 1,000 North West residents as part of their campaign against EU plans to increase the amount of biofuels in our petrol.

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, destroys rainforests and wildlife, and can increase carbon dioxide emissions.

Local Friends of the Earth campaigners believe there are much better ways to reduce our dangerous dependence on fossil fuels and are visiting Chris Davies 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.

Stockport Friends of the Earth co-ordinator, Kate Eldridge 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 Chris Davies 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.”

Euro MP Chris Davies added:

“Like many environmentalists my views on biofuels have taken a somersault in the past year as evidence grows about the risks that commercial pressures to grow them pose to the survival of tropical rainforests.

“Car manufacturers can achieve huge reductions in CO2 emissions for vehicles through technical improvements. It cannot make sense to use biofuels to achieve the same objective if the price to be paid is so damaging to the environment and the world’s poor.”

Mr Davies said he would use his vote as a key British negotiator on the issue against the entire principle of using biofuels for transport purposes but believed that a majority in the Parliament would vote instead for measures to try and improve the sustainability of biofuels, steps which the Liberal Democrat MEP said would prove difficult to enforce.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

[1] 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.

[2] 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.

[3] 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.

[4] For further information about Friends of the Earth, visit www.foe.co.uk.