Call to scientists to join anti-“biofuel” appeal


Europe’s agrofuel devours the rainforests.

In a joint letter 168 scientists have warned the EU against so-called “biofuel”. They say plant energy from field crops is anything but climate-friendly, which the EU claims it is.


“Treating biofuel as climate-neutral is very definitely not supported by scientists,” the researchers say.  Rainforests are felled for agroenergy and rising food prices are worsening hunger in the world.


 When land used for food or feed production is turned over to growing biofuel crops, agriculture has to expand elsewhere. This often results in new deforestation and destruction of other ecosystems, particularly in tropical regions in the developing world,” the scientists write on their website.


This is not some future development, they say, but happening right now.


The letter says: “Without addressing land use change, the European Union's target for renewable energy in transport may fail to deliver genuine carbon savings in the real world. It could end up as merely an exercise on paper that promotes widespread deforestation and higher food prices.”


The appeal was prompted by attempts by the EU Commission to continue its failed policy with the harmful biofuels whatever the cost. The Commission has held back studies commissioned or had them rewritten because they did not deliver the CO2 cutting results from biofuel it wanted.


The main problem is the vast land consumption of the plant energies. To meet the 10% proportion of renewables the EU wants in the transport sector millions of hectares have to be used for energy plants.


Because agricultural land is scarce, much of the area needed is created at the expense of food production and in tropical forest areas. To realize its plans, Europe depends on increasing imports of biodiesel made from oil palms and soy as well as ethanol from maize and sugar cane.


The signers of the document base their arguments on scientific facts and are beyond any suspicion of being influenced by interests. They are in all areas of science and the economy. They include Nobel laureate Kenneth Arrow, Professor Emeritus at Stanford University and Daniel Kammen, the World Bank’s chief technician responsible for renewable energies.


The EU and governments must finally take action. Instead of merely shifting excessive energy consumption from fossil sources to agroenergies, it has to be drastically reduced. The rolling fuel guzzlers must at last be banned from the roads and public transport systems must be expanded.


The letter is open to scientists and economists with a Ph.D. with expertise related to climate, energy, and land use.  The final statement will indicate that institutional affiliation is listed for identification purposes only. 


Click here to sign the letter to the European Union.


Non-scientists can sign a separate protest here.