Unilever And Nestlé Join Aid Charities To Call For Biofuel Curbs

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/2023d3e6-ceae-11e2-ae25-00144feab7de.html#ixzz2W6Bin3bz By Andrew Bowman ©Eyevine Unilever and Nestlé have joined development non-governmental organisations in calling on David Cameron to use the Group of Eight presidency to press for an end to the use of biofuels made from food crops. In a letter to Downing Street, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, the Nestlé chairman, and Paul Polman, the Unilever chief executive, say agri-biofuels are “exacerbating global hunger”, with many varieties “worse for climate change than the fossil fuels they were meant to replace”. The letter, co-signed by ActionAid, Oxfam, and WWF, urges the UK to back a European Commission proposal for a 5 per cent cap on the use of agri-biofuels in the EU’s overall consumption of transport fuel. International development charities have long criticised EU biofuel policy, with ActionAid researchers estimating that foodstuffs converted to fuel by G8 members each year would be sufficient to feed 441m people. Concerns about the impact on commodity prices are shared by the two food multinationals, who say that biofuel mandates in EU and G8 countries are affecting their ability to make affordable products. In a statement, Unilever said: “The development of a new generation of biofuels which do not compete with food crops is essential.” The companies have stepped up their lobbying efforts in advance of the mid-June G8 summit in Northern Ireland and a meeting of the EU’s energy council on Friday to discuss the European Commission’s proposals. On Saturday, Mr Cameron will host Nutrition for Growth, an international summit, and a meeting of the New Alliance on Food Security and Nutrition, an initiative launched by President Barack Obama at last year’s G8 summit to spur investment in African agribusiness. The EU renewable energy directive set a target of sourcing 10 per cent of all transport fuel from renewable sources by 2020, with much of this expected to come from biofuels. As well as the 5 per cent cap, the European Commission’s proposals released in October include environmental reporting obligations to account for carbon sinks destroyed by farmland expansion, and the promotion of “second generation” non-food biofuels. This week, the UK parliament’s international development committee said in a report that Britain should revise the country’s Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation to remove support for agri-biofuels, and push for similar reforms in the EU. The commission’s proposals have provoked angry responses from European biofuel producers, however, and on Tuesday the UK’s Renewable Energy Association said it “would mean the destruction of thousands of jobs, see millions of pounds of investment squandered and increase the cost of meeting renewable energy targets”. Taylor Scott International

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