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European Parliament wants a little less agro-fuels

In a very narrow final vote (356 in favour, 327 agains, 14 abstentions) the European Parliament on Wednesday agreed on some reductions for the highly ambitious and environmentally questionable goals of the European Union on the use of agricultural products for fuel production.

The EU’s Renewable Energy Directive establishes that 10% of transport fuel should come from renewable sources by 2020. The Parliament now demands that a maximum of 6% should come from arable land and that the climate change benefit from renewable sources must take into account indirect land use changes (ILUC),  e.g. the negative climate impact of cutting down rainforest to make space for additional fields. The EU Commission had suggested to reduce agro-fuels to 5%. But vigorous lobbying from agro-fuel companies and big farmers organisations opposed any restrictions to this new field of income. Only narrowly failing to vote down the entire report of the Parliament, the agro-fuel lobby will now try to prevent an agreement among the Unions agricultural and environment ministers in the Council before the end of the legislative period in May 2014. This could postpone any effective reduction until 2015. More details.

Oxfam and other develoment, human rights and environment organisations have warned of the negative impact of agrofuels on food prices, hunger and the environment.