Saturday, November 10, 2007

[PBN] Oxfam: 'Biofuels make poor people even poorer'


Biofuels make poor people even poorer
Oxfam warning
By Lucy Sherriff → More by this author
Published Thursday 1st November 2007 11:54 GMT

European targets for use of biofuels will make life worse for some of
the poorest people on the planet, according to a report from charity Oxfam.

In January, the European Commission issued guidelines suggesting that
member states should use biofuels for 10 per cent of their transport
fuel "budget" by 2020. Oxfam argues that if we meet these targets,
deigned to reduce Europe's fossil fuel burning, it will have a
catastrophic knock-on effect in countries like Indonesia, Colombia,
Brazil, Tanzania and Malaysia.

The organisation wants the EC to review its policy and make sure proper
safeguards are put in place to protect vulnerable groups.

"In the scramble to supply the EU and the rest of the world with
biofuels, poor people are getting trampled," said Oxfam's Robert Bailey.
"The EU proposals as they stand will exacerbate the problem. It is
unacceptable that poor people in developing countries should bear the
cost of questionable attempts to cut emissions in Europe."

The charity is concerned that to supply crops on the scale needed to
supply 10 per cent of Europe's transport fuel, the scale of cultivation
will threaten the food supply, land ownership, and livelihoods in
developing nations.

Oxfam also warns that biofuels do not live up to their reputation as a
clean fuel supply. Although they have a much shorter carbon cycle (i.e.
we burn them, releasing carbon, then more biofuel plants use that carbon
dioxide to grow), it is not a zero sum game.

It says in its report[]:

The actual carbon savings of biofuels vary considerably... and
depend on the type of feedstock, agricultural practices, the production
pathway, and the effects of land use change.

Bailey says: "Biofuels are not a panacea - even if the EU is able to
reach the ten per cent target sustainably, and Oxfam doubts that it can,
it will only shave a few per cent of emissions off a continually growing

To make the best carbon savings, crops should be grown in tropical
regions, which without proper management will lead to the exploitative
scenarios the charity fears.

Abet Nego Tarigan is deputy director of Sawit Watch, an organisation
which represents communities, farmers, and plantation workers affected
by palm oil development in Indonesia. He explained that the lure of
"biofuel gold" is prompting palm oil companies to clear communities from
land they have farmed for generations.

"Workers and small holders are shamefully exploited and we are losing
valuable agricultural land to grow the food we need to feed ourselves
and make a living," he said. "The proposed EU policy will only make this
worse - pushing more people into poverty and concentrating land in the
hands of a few." ®
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1 comment:

Merkwurdigliebe said...

Is anyone besides me offended by the tone of this report, by the way these people tell us we are stealing food from other nations?

How is it our responsibility to feed the people of nations whose governments have failed utterly to fulfill the first and most important function of government: To ensure there is enough food to feed its population?

We CAN'T sustain an open-ended levy on our food supply to feed the ever-increasing number of people in these criminally irresponsible countries.

We will ALL starve when we exhaust our soil and turn the grain belt into a new Sahara.

The problem is not biofuels, it is rampant overpopulation.

There is a crime against humanity here, but it is not the diversion of a few crops to biofuel production; it is failure of those countries that are whining the loudest about this so-called theft of "their" food to CONTROL THEIR POPULATIONS.

It isn't their food. They have no right to destroy our farmland to keep their population explosions going for a few more decades.

There is a sign at the entrance to our local park. It says, "Don't Feed The Bears".

Handouts foster overpopulation by artificially expanding the food supply, they teach dependency, causing the bears to lose the ability to fend for themselves, and they tend to get real nasty when you can't feed them anymore.

That warning applies to foreign populations just as well as it does to the bears.

Cut them off now, before it is too late.