EU: don't bow to agrofuel industry lobby! - DTE urges Commission

Oil palm fruit

DTE Letter to European Commission, 16th October 2012


Dear President Barroso,

Down to Earth (DTE) works with partners internationally to promote climate justice and sustainable livelihoods in Indonesia. We are deeply concerned to learn that the Commission’s potentially good amendments to flawed EU agrofuels policy could be weakened due to pressure from the industrial lobby. 

Numerous studies show clearly that errors have been made regarding the carbon accounting and social impacts of agrofuels. These include the Nuffield Council report (Biofuels : Ethical Issues- April 2011) and EU commissioned scientific studies into the Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) impacts of agrofuels. All studies illustrated the clear dangers of agrofuels production for exacerbating human rights violations and climate change. Almost all the above cited reports made recommendations for policy change upon which, to date, the Commission has failed to act. 

The debate has gone on too long. The Commission’s draft proposal to introduce a 5% limit on the use of crop-based agrofuels is a commendable step in the right direction – but this limit needs to be further reduced to ensure that agrofuels targets do not result in higher food prices and volatility in the midst of a food crisis. Similarly, the immediate introduction of a 60% threshold for emissions is welcome but will fail to have an impact on the ground unless it is applied to processing plants that are currently in operation.

ILUC factors must be introduced in sustainability accounting in both the Fuel Quality Directive and Renewable Energy Directive (RED) so that fuel suppliers are held fully accountable for the indirect impacts of agrofuel production. Should the EU fail to apply ILUC factors to the RED crops such as palm oil, which are worse contributors to climate change than fossil fuels, could still meet sustainability criteria. Failure to introduce these reforms will mean that the EU is effectively encouraging the expansion of agricultural land into forests, grasslands, wetlands, indigenous and community lands – exacerbating climate change and placing further pressure on the local livelihoods of producer countries.

This is a critical moment for the EU to prove its leadership on climate change. The agrofuels industry lobby has clear interests in maintaining the government-assisted privileges of a guaranteed market and subsidies. Industry interests should not be prioritised at the expense of environment, biodiversity and local communities. DtE urges the Commission to respect its responsibility, under the Precautionary Principle, to protect people and the environment from exposure to harm presented by EU agrofuel policies, by proposing robust social and environmental sustainability measures.

Yours Sincerely,

Clare McVeigh

Down to Earth, International Campaign for Ecological Justice in Indonesia



Günther Oettinger (Energy Commissioner)
Michael Koehler (Head of Cabinet for Günther Oettinger)

Jasmin Battista (Member of Cabinet for Günther Oettinger)

Maja Kocijancic (Deputy Spokesperson for Catherine Ashton, Vice-President of the European Commission)

Micheal Karnitschnig (Cabinet Member for President Barosso)

Catherine Day (Secretary-General of the European Commission)
Connie Hedegaard (Climate Commissioner)

Peter Vis (Cabinet Member for Connie Hedegaard)

Juergen Muller (Cabinet Member for Connie Hedegaard)