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EU risks fueling climate change with biofuel target


Tomorrow, on the 26th of September, the members of the European Parliament will vote on the Thomsen Report - roadmap on renewable energy. This report pushes for a 10% mandatory target for biofuels for transport without any viable certification mechanisms in place. The ambitious target of 10% will leave no room to exclude large production of unsustainable biofuels. The mandatory biofuel target is not linked to a target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Research by WL/Delft Hydraulics, Wetlands International and Alterra showed that many palm oil plantations in South-east Asia are on tropical peatlands. Peatlands are huge natural carbon stores. Drainage of these areas (necessary for cultivating palm oil) causes the emission of huge amounts of carbon dioxide; around 60 to 100 tonnes of CO2 per ha/ year. This makes Indonesia and Malaysia among the largest CO2 emitters.

While climate change is one of the top priorities to tackle within the EU, the current proposed EU mandate for biofuels, which is intended to combat climate change, may only accelerate it. Plans for expansion of palm oil plantations in South-east Asia, targeted at 6 million hectares in the next 20 years, are heavily triggered by the EU biofuel plans. Over 50% of these new plantations are planned in tropical peatlands.

Wetlands International advocates that the EU should focus on what they want to achieve, namely reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Biofuels can – linked to a credible certification scheme - contribute to this. Not linking the 10% EU biofuel market share to a target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions is in contrast with the Consultation Paper for sustainable biofuels criteria made by the European Commission in May. This included a ban on the use of wetlands or other ‘carbon sinks’ for biofuel cultivation in order to prevent major loss of carbon stocks and associated CO2 emissions.

Earlier this week 37 other environmental and human rights groups called on the EU to abandon its plans for a 10% biofuel target. Besides environmental concerns they also warned for serious negative social impacts, such as rural depopulation, health impacts, land conflicts and human rights violations.

For more information:

Alex Kaat, Communication Manager Wetlands International
tel: +31 65060 1917 | e-mail:








Letter Wetlands International to EP on 10% mandatory biofuel target
Amendments by the Greens/EFA

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