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Standard-setting and certification is no solution [#112]
* Biofuels are a disaster in the making. Existing legally binding standards, regulations and enforcement mechanisms in the (potential) production countries are absolutely insufficient to prevent the above-mentioned impacts. International demand for biofuels is already surpassing supply in key countries like Malaysia and Brazil, giving an important push to the expansion of destructive crops like oil palm and sugar cane. Initiatives to produce these monocultures “responsibly” are rejected by many NGOs and social movements in the production countries themselves, who have emphasized that the above-mentioned negative social and environmental impacts are inherent to the large-scale production of monocultures.

There is nothing green or sustainable to imported or exported biofuel. Instead of destroying the lands and livelihoods of local communities and Indigenous Peoples in the South through yet another form of colonialism, we call upon Northern countries to recognize their responsibility for destroying the planet’s climate system, to reduce their energy consumption to sustainable levels, to pay the climate debt they have created by failing to do so until now and to dramatically increase investment in solar energy and sustainable wind energy.

We also call upon all governments to develop and effectively enforce environmental and social standards and regulations that ensure that national biofuel production industries do not destroy the livelihoods and ecosystems of Indigenous Peoples and local communities. Corporations should be held strictly liable for any social and environmental damage that has occurred and they should be effectively prosecuted if they do not uphold environmental and labor laws. *

It is important to emphasize that standards and certification systems are not a solution to reduce the devastating social and environmental impacts of agro-fuel production, as they are not able to address the macro-effects and other indirect effects of agro-fuel production. Setting sustainability standards for corn production in the US cannot solve the problem that increased corn production leads to increased deforestation through soy expansion in South America. Even on a micro-scale standards and certification schemes tend to ignore indirect effects. The standard that agro-fuel should not be produced on newly deforested land, for example, is a farce: It is very easy for a commodity producer to guarantee that the raw material for agro-fuels is produced on existing agricultural land, when the same producer is able to expand into the rainforest to meet the existing demand for palmoil, soy, sugar cane and other commodities for food and fodder purposes. The impacts of agro-fuel production on food sovereignty, which are already devastating, are even harder to solve with standards or certification systems, as they are inherent to the economic dynamics of international commodities markets. That is why we reject such standards as a possible solution, but call for the withdrawal of all incentives for agro-fuel production, strict regulations like nation-wide deforestation bans and a drastic reduction in energy consumption in the North.

Please note that the conclusions and recommendations marked with * are taken from the joint civil society statement "Biofuels, a Disaster in the Making", which has been supported by 97 organizations and 15 individuals from all regions, and the IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy. Please see for the full text.
(edited on 2007-03-09 15:54 UTC by Simone Lovera)
posted on 2007-03-09 15:49 UTC by Simone Lovera, Global Forest Coalition

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme