Friends of the Earth Europe comes with new figures on the eve of a crucial vote in the European Parliament on biofuels policy.

Europe’s drivers are being forced to fill their tanks with increasing amounts of rainforest-destroying palm oil new figures released today show. Palm oil use has increased much more than predicted and is now at 20% of the biodiesel mix in Europe.

Today Members of the European Parliament discuss the EU’s contentious biofuels policy with a vote expected on 11 September. MEPs are under pressure to limit the use of biofuels which are contributing to climate change, deforestation and rising food prices.

According to Robbie Blake, biofuels campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe “it is alarming to find that palm oil use in European cars is sky-rocketing. Drivers are unknowingly being forced to fill up with a fuel that is destroying rainforests, communities and the climate.”

Deforestation in Indonesia
Biodiesel made from oil palm is considered the most damaging biofuel on the European market. It is linked to rapid deforestation in South East Asia which is causing climate changing carbon emissions, forest fires and smog across the region.

Nur Hidayati, head of campaigns for Friends of the Earth Indonesia (WALHI), is following the development of Europe’s biofuels policy with anxiety. “This enormous increase in palm oil demand in Europe is escalating deforestation, land grabbing, and conflicts in Indonesia. Biofuels demand must be capped and reduced otherwise Europe will only intensify the problems for Indonesian people affected by palm oil expansion.”

Unless MEPs vote to limit demand for biofuels, EU reliance on palm oil will keep increasing to fulfil targets for 2020.