New article: Brazil's Agrofuel Push

Monday 17 November, Corporate Europe Observatory Press Release

Groups Highlight Brazilian Government’s Damaging Agrofuel Push

Brazilian agrofuels, including ethanol from sugarcane, should not be accepted by the EU as sustainable, campaigners said today (Monday) in a joint open letter [1], published as EU representatives attend an International Biofuel Conference, hosted by Brazil, where leaders are expected to push for greater reliance on agrofuels [2].

The call comes as the EU prepares to decide on the Renewable Energy Directive, including mandatory targets to promote the use of agrofuel (fuel from crops) in transport [3].

New research, published by Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) alongside the letter to European decision makers shows how the Brazilian government is engaged in a global campaign to expand its agrofuel industry, including the promotion of projects in developing countries, some of which are funded from European aid budgets [4].

Campaigners say the Brazilian government is ignoring the damaging environmental and social impacts of agrofuels, including sugarcane ethanol, in its expansion bid.

Amaranta Herrero, a campaigner with Corporate Europe Observatory, said:

“The Brazilian government wants to push its agrofuels regardless of the social and environmental costs. In Brazil, sugarcane expansion is pushing soy and cattle farmers into the Amazon, causing deforestation and exacerbating climate change, while in developing countries, agrofuels are competing with food crops and undermining people’s right to food.”

Europe in particular has been seen by Brazil as a major market for its agrofuel exports.

CEO research shows that Brazil is developing bilateral agreements with EU member states to access agrofuel markets in Europe and promote agrofuel production in parts of Africa and other developing countries which benefit from tariff-free imports to Europe. Some EU member states, keen to access cheap agrofuel imports, are going as far as promoting agrofuel production in developing countries by encouraging foreign direct investment (FDI) via aid policies [5].

Kim Bizzarri, author of the CEO research, said:

“Brazil clearly wants to secure a market for its agrofuel crops and is targeting individual EU member states who are keen to source alternative energy supplies. This is what lies at the heart of agrofuel expansion, not fighting climate change or promoting sustainable development."

As the European Parliament debates the proposed targets for agrofuels use in European transport and some member states review their national targets, the Brazilian government and industry are lobbying hard in Brussels not to loose Europe’s commitment to bioenergy [6].

The Brazilian sugarcane industry lobby group, UNICA, is also acccused of running misleading greenwash campaigns about agrofuels in Brussels’ media – and has been nominated for a Worst EU Lobbying Award [7] – while the Brazilian government is threatening a legal challenge against Europe’s proposal to introuce social and environmental criteria to agrofuels imported into Europe [8].

European environmental and social campaign groups are calling for a stop to agrofuel expansion, including the elimination of financial and policy incentives and an end to EU and national targets.

Amaranta Herrero continued:

“Europe must not be allowed to fuel its cars at the expense of people’s right to food. Agrofuels are not the solution to the energy crisis and they are not the solution to climate change.”

Contacts:

Kim Bizzarri, report author + 44 (0) 141 946 1863 (m) + 44 (0) 7742 612389

Amaranta Herrero, agrofuel campaigner, +32 (0)494220056

Notes:

[1] http://www.corporateeurope.org/docs/Open_letter_on_IBF.pdf

[2]Brazil is hosting an International Conference on Biofuels in São Paulo from 17-21st November - and EU representatives from the European Commission and EU member states will be attending. (A International Popular Seminar on Agrofuels will also take place alongside - for more information contact: Alexania: Phone +55 (11) 7239.7987)

[3] http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/docs/eu_biofuels_policy.pdf

[4] http://www.corporateeurope.org/docs/Cornering_the_market_in_agrofuels.pdf

[5] http://www.corporateeurope.org/docs/Cornering_the_market_in_agrofuels.pdf

[6] http://www.corporateeurope.org/docs/Cornering_the_market_in_agrofuels.pdf

[7] http://www.worstlobby.eu/2008/vote/info/5/worstlobby

[8] http://www.corporateeurope.org/docs/Cornering_the_market_in _agrofuels.pdf