Despite intense debate surrounding the growing global food crises, the European Union today defended expanding the use of biofuels in all 27 member countries. Part of the EU’s climate change package, the current proposal sets a target of meeting 10% of transportation fuel with biofuels by 2020.
As I reported last week, Europe’s EPA advised suspending the EU’s biofuel targets until a comprehensive environmental analysis could be completed. Barbara Helfferich, spokeswoman for EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas, said no way is that going to happen:
“You can’t change a political objective without risking a debate on all the other objectives,” meaning that changing biofuels targets could lead to questioning the entire climate change package.
European Commission agriculture spokesman Michael Mann said the EU isn’t really concerned about using food-based biofuels to meet their targets. Instead, they’re betting on increasing crop yields and the availability of more arable land, both from new member states and a decrease in compulsory “set-aside” (fallow cropland).
Mann even went so far as to say the US is primarily at fault for increasing food prices.
Whoever or whatever is at fault (see “Perfect Storm” Inflating Food Prices Worldwide), the increasing cost of food has already sparked violent protests in Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Haiti, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Mauritania, the Philippines and other countries. Troops have even been deployed in Pakistan and Thailand to guard against food seizure from fields and warehouses.
In the midst of a food crises, it doesn’t take a skeptic to doubt the EU’s ability to meet their biofuel targets without further impacting food prices.