Tescos is the UK’s largest supermarket retailer of such agro-biofuels and Tesco have a 25% stake in the UK’s largest biofuel supplier, Greenergy Fuels. Tesco say that Greenergy buys rapeseed for biodiesel from UK farmers. They make no reference to bioethanol and other biodiesel sources palm and soya from the tropics. Greenergy freely admit that they also use sugar cane (for bioethanol), soy and palm oil.
Mark Crutchley of Norwich and Norfolk Campaign against Climate Change (N2C3), one of the organisers of this protest, says: “Across the tropics, tens of millions of hectares are being converted to vast monocultures to grow fuel for our cars. This is a disaster for communities, for forests and for the global climate. “
Over 200 organisations from North and South have called for an EU moratorium on agrofuels from large-scale monocultures, and there have been many similar calls, including from a large number of civil society organisations in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The United Nations Special Rapporteur for the Right of Food has described current biofuel production ‘a crime against humanity’ and demands a 5 year moratorium. The UK Parliament’s Enviornmental Audit Committee also supports a moratorium on biofuel targets and warns that current ‘sustainability standards’ will not prevent serious negative impacts from biofuels. Friends of the Earth Europe also call for a moratorium of on EU biofuel targets and subsidies.
In the UK, mandatory blending of petrol and diesel with 2.5% biofuels will be introduced on 15th April, under the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation. Tesco boast that they use twice this percentage at over 300 petrol stations. Tesco market, increased use of biofuels as a ‘green choice’.
Jenn Parkhouse from Norwich Friends of the Earth states: “From April, people will have no choice but to contribute to the destruction of forests, the eviction of small farmers and rising food prices which will mean more hunger. More and more people now realise the need for a strong movement to stop the destruction caused by the biofuel industry and the legislation which encourages it.”
See video of Jenn Parkhouse from the event here:
Andrew Boswell, biofuelwatch director said "Last week a committee of MPs published a report 'Are Biofuels Sustainable?'. Their answer for current biofuels was a resounding ‘No!’. Ruth Kelly, Transport Minister would like this report to quietly 'disappear'. However, the MPs did their research well and what they said is just part of the emerging consensus that biofuels risk causing massive climate and ecological damage, and massive social impacts in the South. It is now time that Mr Jim Fitzpatrick, the junior Transport minister responsible for biofuels, and his boss Ruth Kelly came clean. Ruth Kelly should go to the House of Commons and respond to the report -not hide away and hope the report will be forgotten. The ONLY CREDIBLE response is to drop the UK biofuel / biofool targets immediately."
See more at: http://www.oneworldcolumn.org/194.html
Biofuels are a climate justice issue, a social justice issue, a human justice issue. We are protesting here because of Tesco’s corporate involvement in the biofuel industry and in particularly Palm Oil for biodiesel.
Palm oil is in a lot of food products. In fact it is 1 in 10 of Tescos products.
But we are here today to protest against Tesco’s investment in Greenergy Biofuels Ltd and their role as a major distributor of biofuels. Tesco have been market-leaders of biofuels amongst supermarkets. Greenergy uses palm oil, soya and rapeseed oil in their biodiesel and also sells Brazilian sugar ethanol, and they thus contribute to further global warming, deforestation and threaten the livelihoods of many communities in the global South.
Let’s just touch on the ecological, social and human issues with biofuels. As the biofuel industry expands, we see biofuels cause poverty to indigenous peoples. People who have lived for generations on land and in the forest have their land grabbed. Social and land conflicts result. There’s abuses in human rights and labour rights.
When large monocultures are grown, often the people remain in villages within the large plantations of Soya or Palm. When pesticides are used, the pesticide plane does not select where to spray – people are often poisoned, become ill and sometimes die from pesticide poisoning.
Food security and sovereignty is another big issue. Globally we are seeing massive amounts of food crops for example Corn, Wheat, Soya, being sold for fuel. Or land where communities grew food becomes taken over for growing full crops. A more immediate problem is that biofuels, along with other causes (climate change droughts and increasing affluence in China and India – EXPAND), have forced up world food commodity prices. Wheat has gone up 75% in just the last few months. This impacts poor countries who cannot grow all their food and have to buy on the international markets – they can buy less food. These countries often have people close to starvation who are forced into starvation by these rising prices.
The UN has also highlighted that land displacement could cause up to 60 million biofuel refugees – 5 million in Kalimantan in Indonesia alone. Once displaced from their traditional lands, people may try to eak out a less than subsistence existence on what remains of their homelands, often having lost their traditional food sources, or they may migrate in the mega-cities of the global South and become the urban poor.
We will have 1 minutes silence at the end of this speech for those people suffering now or who have died as a result of the rich world’s mad rush to biofuels.
Massive biofuel production will also contribute to systemic ecological problems such as water depletion, soil erosion and chemical poisoning of the land by excessive fertilizers and pesticides.
But let’s return to Palm Oil.
Deforestation and peatland destruction is a massive contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions – about 20% of emissions each year. In really badyears like 1997 when there was massive peatland burning in South East Asia, even more – possibly 40% in 1997. Palm Oil plantations are planned on a massive scale across South East Asia and into pristine rainforest and peatlands.
So right now, Indonesia and Malaysia are set to destroy millions of hectares of rainforest and peatlands for Oil palm plantations to feed European cars
And Tescos and Greenergy and helping them.
The New Scientist reported last month that palm oil biodiesel, produced this way, can produce up to 36 times – yes, 36 times, that is 3600% - more carbon emissions than ordinary fossil diesel.
We would do all better to start driving Hummers than use this fuel!
In South America, our demand for biofuels is pushing up the price of soya and fuelling the destruction of the Amazon, on which all our survival depends.
And Tescos and Greenergy want to sell us Soya biodiesel too.
We have to also address Governments.
Europe's biofuel policies are driving deforestation and the EU wants a 10 fold increase in biofuels by 2020. If we do not stop them, then everything else we do as a movement will become irrelevant, because we will have no hope of stopping runaway climate change.
Such massive biofuel expansion is set to further damage the climate, further risk food supplies for many of the world’s most vulnerable, cause more strife and violence in land disputes, and create even more biofuel refugees displaced from their traditional lands.
We cannot grow all the necessary crops in the North.
Even biofuels grown on European soil with heavy nitrogen fertilizer regimes produce nitrous oxide – a greenhouse gas 300 times more damaging than CO2 that damages the climate.
And Tescos and Greenergy promote oil seed rape biodiesel too.
A recent study showed that the fertilizer used in growing it can produce up to 70% more GHG emissions that fossil diesel.
So Tesco and Greenergy are making us climate loosers, whatever biodiesel they supply – Palm, Soya, or Oilseed rape. We have to stop them, the EU and the our Government.
The UK Government is blindly following the EU and has mandated 2.5% biofuels at the pump from next April 15th. This will go down in climate justice history as April Biofools day. Unlike Apartheid South Africa, no one will be able to boycott their part in increasing global warming.
We need deep real cuts in our transport emissions … by travelling less, by using cars less, by using public transport more, by using cycling and walking more, by making the car industry deliver strict fuel efficiency standards, by transport policy that builds mass transit systems, by social and planning policy that helps people live closer to their work and travel less, by producing most of our food locally and by reducing imports and the volume of trade.
We must resist this ‘mad rush to biofuels’. Today, must demand Gordon Brown to:
• The UK and EU governments must abandon all targets for biofuels
• They must ban all imports of biofuels
• They must implement a moratorium on growing large-scale biofuels in the EU
There is only one way to stop biofuels from pushing us into runaway climate change and that is such a moratorium. Over 200 NGOs from North and South have signed such a call to the EU, and this week a large number of NGOs from Africa published their own African Call for an Agrofuel Moratorium.
This won’t happen just because we ask the governments for it. We are up against the largest corporate interest alliance ever : big oil, big agribusiness, chemical, biotech, car manufacturers and venture capitalists, with the support of much of the global political elite, including the top neocon military and political establishment of the US.
We won’t stop the destruction without a large movement against agrofuels. We don’t want biofuels, AND we don’t want the climate, social and human injustice that they will cause. We must succeed for all our other efforts to combat climate change to be worthwhile.
This is why biofuelwatch is having a national week of local action against agrofuels from 26th January - not just in January, but for throughout coming years to help us build a grassroots campaign throughout the UK.
Please help us with publicity and events in your local area. Get one of our leaflets being handed out today and check out our website www.biofuelwatch.org.uk.
We must demand that Tesco, and companies like them, disinvest from biofuels. They must drop the plans to sell biofuels.
We must resist and force the Government to listen.
We can defeat Brown’s biofueling bungling driven by his US and EU masters. We can defeat the biofuel madness. Let’s start resisting it today.
Let’s now have a minutes silence for those who are suffering for rapid, massive biofuel production across the Global South, and remember those who have died in protecting their land, or from pesticides, or from starvation, or from poverty.