This letter was originally published on 15th October 2013. It is republished here courtesy of Oxfam.
Today UK and other European Union representatives will discuss whether to limit the amount of first-generation biofuels used in transport fuels. On a day that is also World Food Day, the importance of these negotiations, which will significantly impact the trajectory of global food prices, could not be overstated.
Many of these old-fashioned biofuels are derived from food crops, such as wheat and oilseed rape, which are essential food sources for a rapidly expanding global population. If the EU doesn't take this opportunity to change its policy, it risks creating demand for biofuels that could take up twice the land mass of Belgium.
Not only do first-generation biofuels not deliver the carbon emissions savings that they are subsidised to provide, but the demand for land to be used for biofuels puts great strain on the environment, wildlife and local communities ('Silent genocide' fear over Guarani suicides, 11 October).
Taking land out of food production - which is increasingly happening in Africa - pushes up global food prices, while bringing new land into production leads to drained wetlands, ploughed-up grasslands and razed forests.
This can result in huge emissions of greenhouse gases. The Lithuanian presidency of the EU is not pushing for a tight enough cap on damaging biofuels, nor pushing for measures to capture their full climate impacts, and we urge the UK government to show leadership in the negotiations and encourage other member states to support a 5% cap that will stop further increases in the use of food for fuel.
Zac Goldsmith MP (Con), Caroline Lucas MP (Green), Jeremy Lefroy MP (Con), Tim Farron MP (LD), Julian Huppert MP (LD), Adrian Sanders MP (LD), Fiona O'Donnell MP (Lab), Mark Durkan MP (SDLP)