Sugarcane ethanol: a sweet solution for Europe’s fuel addiction?

, by Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO)

Brazil’s agribusiness is lobbying to make the case, but people and the environment are paying the price.

In spite of overwhelming criticism of agrofuels as a ’solution’ to climate change, sugarcane ethanol is often seen as the one more positive exception. The Brazilian government is lobbying hard in Brussels in favour of high EU agrofuel targets and for better market access for sugarcane ethanol. However, sugarcane is far from a sustainable source of energy. Certification initiatives such as the ’Better Sugarcane Initiative’ are top down approaches that lack support from small producers or affected communities.

In July, responding to high profile concerns, the European Parliament’s Environment Committee voted in favour of cutting the proposed 10% target down to 4% by 2015. Many calls are now going out to the Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee to drop the proposed 10% agrofuel target in their upcoming vote on the issue on 11 September.

That same ITRE Committee however voted on 1st September to significantly dilute proposals for fuel efficiency standards for cars. Car manufacturers will be able to use agrofuels as a ’get out clause’ to avoid having to abide by standards. This shows clearly that agrofuels are being promoted in the EU largely to make up for the lack of real measures to reduce emissions from cars and fuels, or to change the transport model. EU decision makers have turned agrofuels into an escape route for the car and the oil industry, who will have to invest less in more efficient cars, or in a clean-up of oil operations. Read more