News / 30 June 2010

Latest agrofuels no better for environment

According to European Union rules, 10% of agrofuel should be added to every litre of petrol or diesel in 2020. However, current agrofuels like palm oil, soy and rapeseed are no better for the environment.


Yesterday, a study on the effects of indirect land use caused by the increasing use of agrofuels like palm oil, rapeseed and soy was presented by CE Delft, an independent research and consultancy organisation specialised in developing innovative solutions to environmental problems. The report shows that the direct CO2 reductions achieved by using the current generation of agrofuels are offset by the additional CO2 emissions indirectly caused by deforestation, because more land is needed to grow crops. The study proves that, on balance, first generation agrofuels are just as bad as petrol and diesel. The EU policy should take the CO2 impacts from indirect land use changes into consideration when making its calculations, if it wants to actually see CO2 emissions go down.


Both ENDS has been lobbying for the inclusion of the negative macro-effects caused by the increased demand for palm oil, ethanol and soy for years. Not only the increased emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases by indirect land use change is important, but the threat to biodiversity due to deforestation or cultivation of wetlands should also be recognised. In addition to these negative environmental effects, the demand for agrofuels can also create negative social effects: farmers are driven from their land, and reduced food security and migration have significant adverse effects. Both ENDS contributed to a Development Policy Review Network (DPRN) discussion paper on agrofuels.


Negative environmental and social impacts here and in developing countries should be factored into the Dutch and European policies. Both ENDS calls for a sustainable approach, through:

  • International consensus on sustainability indicators for agrofuel production;
  • Tightening of the current agrofuel criteria;
  • Prioritisation of low risk agrofuels.

Also see the policy recommendations that Both ENDS drafted together with IUCN Netherlands.


For more information, contact Nathalie van Haren.


Read more about this subject