News Land Grabbing / Agrofuels – December 2013


European Energy Ministers fail to reform the EU’s Biofuel Policy


On 12 December 2013 the European Energy Ministers voted on a proposal of the Lithuanian Presidency reforming the EU Biofuels policy in the European Council. The Lithuanian Presidency watered down the original proposal of the European Commission amending the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive and Fuels Quality Directive (both determine the targets for agrofuel production in the EU). The EU’s Renewable Energy Directive stipulates that member states should source 10 % of transport energy from renewable sources by 2020 and currently there are no limits for food-based agrofuels counting towards this objective. In 2012, the European Commission proposed to limit the share of food-based biofuels within the 10 % renewable energy objective to 5 %. However, the Lithuanian Presidency increased this limit to 7% in its proposal to the member states, well above the current level of consumption of agrofuels in the EU: 4,7%. This means that potentially 50% more food can be converted to agrofuels, or the equivalent to feed 69 million people annually.  From an environmental point of view this means that more land will be converted to agrofuel production at the expense of forests (and other bio-diverse areas) especially in developing countries.


In the end the proposal was rejected by a blocking minority of ‘progressive’ states: Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy and Luxemburg who believed that the Lithuanian compromise did not do enough to prevent the social and environmental harm of EU Biofuels Policy, while Poland and Hungary blocked the Lithuanian compromise, because they are against any sort of restriction on agrofuel production. Large member states France, Germany and the UK voted in favor of the compromise. However, this non-agreement will postpone a decision after the European elections of May 2014. Unfortunately, none of the member states are working towards a complete phase-out of agrofuels, which is necessary to halt hunger, land grabbing and deforestation caused by agrofuel production.



Read a press article on the vote in French and in English



Story from Africa


In June 2013, AEFJN, in cooperation with Belgian civil society, presented a report on the local resistance of the people of the Malen Chiefdom in Sierra Leone against palm oil plantations of the SOCFIN company. (click here to read the report) Ever since the beginning of the SOCFIN-project the local population has opposed this land investment, because they were not consulted and because they were not sufficiently compensated for ceding their lands.


In the meantime the situation has deteriorated: protesters are jailed and prosecuted and local NGO Green Scenery was sued by SOFCIN for publishing a report on SOCFIN’s activities.  However, violence escalated recently when the local police opened fire on people protesting the expansion of SOCFIN’s activities. This increased violence combined with the deteriorated food security of the local population since they lost their land to the company is a dangerous mix in a country recovering from a long civil war.



Read two French press articles on the recent upheaval here and here


Read and English article here

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