This week I met with local Friends of the Earth groups to discuss an EU measure that will have profound effects on the future of communities around the world.
The Renewable Energy Directive sets a binding target to have 20% of the EU’s energy consumption coming from renewables by 2020, and, as part of that, a binding target for each member state to achieve at least 10% of their transport fuel consumption from biofuels.
These renewables targets are a case of the good, the bad and the ugly.
It’s great to have the 20% target. But the 10% transport fuel target is very bad news. Using waste food for fuel is a virtuous circle, whether it’s cooking oil from the chippy or the wine fuelling Prince Charles’ car. But it cannot possibly meet 10% of current and growing transport demands. The result will be swathes of land in the developing world taken for growing crops for fuel, instead of crops for food, with a downward spiral of food shortages, habitat loss and land wars; the prospect of war and starvation for generations to come. That’s the ugly bit.
But there is an alternative. The EU is also looking at standards for vehicles’ CO2 emissions. Add tougher fuel-efficiency requirements to the mix, and you get a solution that works for the climate, consumers and communities around the world. Not a bad idea …