In its plan to increase biofuel share to 10% by 2020, the European Union (EU) seems to favor the interests of profit-minded big industrial companies rather than the reduction of carbon footprint and fight against climate change.
This is the claim of a recent study by Simone Vieri of the University of La Sapienza in Rome, Italy published in the International Journal of Environment and Health.
EU is focusing on the first generation biofuels which are derived from plants that are grown specifically for biofuel production rather than the second generation biofuels which are derived from biomass or agricultural wastes and by-products.
This strategy has sparked doubts to EU’s real intention and Vieri has pointed out these issues which are the following:
1. The most obvious of all, the platform favors the production of first generation biofuels which compete with other crops in terms of land use and other resources. This, resulting to decreased food supply, will affect stability of food prices and consequently, people’s food security, with the poorest nations affected the most. Also, the production processes involved that change land usage can also lead to zero emissions reduction.
2. Encouraging agro-industrial models such as those on which the production of first generation biofuels are based would compromise the possibility of developing models based on multi-functional agriculture and production of energy from agriculture waste and byproducts.
3. Europe cannot sustain its targeted 10% biofuels share on its own and thus will need to continue importing a large part of the raw materials used for the production of biofuels, which sometimes also leads to the exploitation of human and natural resources of poorest countries for most of the time, they are the sources of these agricultural raw materials.
“The choice to promote first generation biofuels is an example of how politics places the protection of the interests and profit strategies of a restricted number of subjects before the costs and benefits to be had on a wider scale,” says Vieri. True enough as the impacts of prioritizing first generation biofuels compensate the true hopes of biofuel production – reduction of carbon footprint without compromising food sector and humanity in general.