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declaration on agrofuels

by DebraBroughton — last modified Nov 28, 2007 01:10 PM
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Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) believes that agrofuels are a false solution to the current energy and climate crisis and campaigns against their development, production and trade.


Agrofuels (often called biofuels) are liquid fuels, notably biodiesel and bioethanol. So-called first generation agrofuels are derived from food crops such as cereals, soybean, rapeseed oil, sugar cane and palm oil. Second generation, which are currently under development, are aimed at using agricultural residues, trees (willow, eucalyptus) and straw, and may involve industrial technologies such as genetically modified microorganisms, crops and trees. Both generations set out to provide fuel on an industrial and large scale for electricity production and transportation.


Friends of the Earth International is deeply concerned that the rapid development and production of agrofuels will increase already serious social and environmental problems including the risk of worsening climate change. In particular there is a real danger that agrofuels will:

  1. increase poverty and hunger - particularly in the South - as food prices increase and land is used to grow fuel rather than food which destroys family farmers¹ livelihoods, turns prime agricultural land over to servicing the energy commodity market and reduces food production.
  2. violate human rights, including indigenous peoples¹ land rights, as local communities are expelled, often violently, from their forest and agricultural lands to make way for corporate-run monoculture plantations.
  3. damage biodiversity and eco-systems as agriculture is intensified to meet the new demand, for example through the increase in monocultures and genetically modified crops. Furthermore, agriculture is forced to expand into sensitive and biodiversity rich areas such as forests, savannas, fallow and marginal land.
  4. increase pressure on valuable natural resources such as water and productive agricultural land.
  5. contribute to climate change as carbon sinks are destroyed through forests being felled or peatlands drained and through excessive use of fertilizer and energy consumption for production and distribution.
  6. exacerbate an already unsustainable trade in agricultural products that depends largely on the exploitation of countries of the global South to meet the needs of the richer North.
  7. distract governments from taking real measures to tackle the climate and energy crisis.

Friends of the Earth International believes that the certification of agrofuels will provide no guarantee of sustainability nor address all of the above concerns. We are extremely concerned by the politically driven demand for agrofuels, especially in light of the mounting evidence of social and environmental problems, and the belief that certification will solve these.


On this basis Friends of the Earth International is calling for a halt to the development, production and trade of agrofuels and that all targets and other incentives, including subsidies, carbon trading and public and private finance related to the development and production of agrofuels should be abolished.


Real solutions


Greenhouse gas emissions need to be dramatically reduced in order to prevent the most dangerous consequences of climate change. FOEI is calling for stringent targets and timetables, the phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies and the promotion of effective solutions.


Friends of the Earth International promotes:

  1. peoples' energy sovereignty (i.e. the ability of peoples and communities to decide over their energy sources and energy consumption patterns that will lead them to sustainable societies);
  2. sustainable transportation; and
  3. genuine solutions to climate change such as safe clean renewable energy, energy savings and efficiency.

All renewable energy developments should be within strict environmental and social parameters, should not endanger food sovereignty and should lead to the empowerment of communities.


Friends of the Earth International challenges the over-consumption and inefficient use of natural resources, particularly in the North, and campaigns for environmental sustainable and socially just societies.


28 November, 2007


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