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turning off the tap: fighting financial support for agrofuels

Thanks to our advocacy work, and together with many of our allies, we succeeded in radically shifting public and political opinion on agrofuels from ‘strong support’ to ‘very cautious’.
turning off the tap: fighting financial support for agrofuelsFor example, by July 2008 the European Parliament's Environment Committee was raising doubts about the 10% target, suggesting a 4% target as a safer level. The UK government also released a report “warning that current targets for biofuel production could cause a global rise in greenhouse gas emissions and an increase in poverty in the poorest countries.” (see International Herald Tribune). All of this turned the  political debate on agrofuels around, and this needs to be reflected in energy-related  decisions on finance being made by various institutions, including the IFIs.


We provided analysis about financing agrofuels, and about the impacts of developing agrofuels production around the world. In April 2008, we launched a report on the EU’s Fuel Quality Directive, highlighting the fact that oil companies could reduce emissions without shifting to agrofuels.


A month later, FoEI released another report entitled ‘European financing of agrofuels production in Latin America’, which documents how major European banks, such as Barclays, Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas, Axa, HSBC, UBS and Credit Suisse are investing billions of Euros in the production and trade of sugar cane, soybeans and palm oil in Latin American countries.


Our groups in Latin America and the Caribbean also gathered and published evidence demonstrating ‘The real price of the drive for agrofuels’. This report reveals the regional impacts of the agrofuels boom and addresses the question of whether or not farmers and peasants find themselves being assisted out of poverty. Another report was released in March 2008: “Harvesting Harm: Agrofuels as a False Solution to Climate Change and Poverty”, which analyzes the Inter- American Development Bank’s agrofuels strategy.


FoEI used the analysis and conclusions contained in these reports as a foundation for strong and effective advocacy work around the world. For example, we sent a team of campaigners from FoE USA, FoE Brazil and FoE Haiti to the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) annual meeting in Miami, to present the report and demand that finance ministers and bank officials only use the IDB’s Sustainable Energy and Climate Change Initiative funds for truly clean and renewable energy projects.


During the Asian Development Bank’s annual meeting in May 2008 in Madrid, we worked with the NGO Forum on the ADB to present the role of the ADB in financing agrofuels in Asia in an energy panel discussion. See press release.


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