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For immediate release
16 April 2008
Joint press release by Biofuelwatch and Global Forest Coalition

UK Protests call for Biofuel Targets to be Scrapped 

London – There were demonstrations in London yesterday and groups across the UK also protested against the introduction of mandatory biofuel blending.  Outside Downing Street speakers from Friends of the Earth, Global Forest Coalition, GM Freeze, Campaign against Climate Change and Biofuelwatch condemned the government’s decision to go ahead with it’s biofuel policy against overwhelming evidence of catastrophic impacts on climate, communities, biodiversity and food security.

Other protests were held outside the constituency offices of Ruth Kelley, Secretary of State for Transport, and Hilary Benn, Secretary of State for the Environment.  More protests took place at BP and Tesco fuel stations.  BP and Tesco are two of the companies with significant investment in biofuels (also called agrofuels) from large-scale monocultures.  They have been strongly lobbying for mandatory biofuel blending.

“The UK has chosen to ignore a vast mountain of evidence that biofuels are contributing to hunger, climate change, deforestation and human rights abuses,” said Dr. Rachel Smolker, main author of “The Real Cost of Agrofuels.” [1] She continued, “Perhaps they are counting on new technologies using cellulose from wood and grasses, but these won’t sidestep the problems either. Whatever feedstocks are used will result in further expansion of industrial monocultures, possibly including genetically engineered trees. The bottom line is that there is a limited amount of land available, a large population to
feed and a desperate need to preserve remaining biodiverse ecosystems. Instead of focusing on improving efficiency and reducing consumption, the UK is mandating further destruction.”

Almuth Ernsting from Biofuelwatch adds, “Protests against the agrofuel industry and this government’s biofuel policies will not end.  The government is talking about vague ‘sustainability standards’, whilst agrofuels are causing ever greater harm to the climate, to forests and other ecosystems, to communities in the global South, to biodiversity worldwide, and to food sovereignty and food security. We need a moratorium on all agrofuel incentives and targets to prevent those catastrophic impacts.”

On 8 April, twenty-nine UK and international groups wrote to the UK government, calling for an agrofuel moratorium and demanding a suspension of the Renewable
Transport Fuel Obligation, and opposition to new EU biofuel targets – both the proposed 10% biofuel target in the Renewable Energy Directive, and the inclusion of biofuels in the draft new Fuel Quality Directive. [2] Around 200 organisations from North and South have signed a call for an EU moratorium on agrofuels from large-scale monocultures, and there are separate calls for a U.S. agrofuel moratorium and for an African agrofuel moratorium, as well as growing number of declarations from the Southern groups that are deeply concerned about the impacts which biofuel policies in Europe, including in the UK, are having on their communities, food sovereignty and environment. [3]

Almuth Ernsting, Biofuelwatch, +44-1224-324797 (UK, any time)
Orin Langelle, Global Forest Coalition, +1.802.578.6980 (U.S., any time)


[1] Dr. Rachel Smolker is the lead Agrofuels Campaigner for Global Forest Coalition and Global Justice Ecology Project.   To download the report: http://www.globalforestcoalition.org/img/userpics/File/publications/Therealcostofagrofuels.pdf

[2] For a copy of the joint NGO letter to the UK government, see: http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/files/rtfo_letter.pdf

[3] For copies of the moratorium calls and the other declarations, see:

As many of you know, GJEP Co-Director, Orin Langelle is also the Media Coordinator for Global Forest Coalition.  This release was sent out internationally this morning.  Also note the quote by GJEP’s and GFC’s lead Agrofuel Campaigner, Dr. Rachel Smolker.