Since climate change became an international issue the European Union has been among the leaders in promoting biofuels through legislated mandates, requirements that petroleum fuels contain a specified minimum percentage of fuel produced from plant-based materials rather than from fossil resources. Now the EU may be about to turn this policy on its head, capping the percentage of biofuel that can be used in transportation fuels.
One of the leaders in the fight against biofuels from food lands is Oxfam. In a recent press release and report, Oxfam claims that “Europe’s biofuels policies are making climate change worse, not better, and poor people are paying the highest price.”
If, as is possible, the Canadian and US governments follow what may be the European lead, billions of dollars in investment in biofuel production, distribution, and utilization will be seriously devalued. Much of the cost of poorly-planned policies will fall on the agricultural community which is now welcoming higher corn and soybean prices in the aftermath of a North American drought.
Not only does Canada need a food policy but the world needs a food policy that can help buffer these boom-bust cycles. Agricultural interests claim that there is room for both biofuel and food production but governments seem unable to find the global balance.
Information, including the leaked EC policy document and the Oxfam analysis, can be found at http://www.oxfam.org/en/eu/pressroom/pressrelease/2012-09-17/europes-thirst-biofuels-spells-hunger-millions-food-prices-shoot-up