In January 2008, the European Commission proposed a directive on the use of energy from renewable sources. This proposal defines ecological criteria in order to ensure that biofuels are produced in a sustainable manner. In this paper, we summarise the known and foreseeable ecological and social impacts of biofuel production and identify any weaknesses in the EU proposal. To guarantee an overall sustainable production of biofuels, leakage effects (i.e., if an exporting country covers its own biofuel needs by switching to cultivable areas that are not subject to the EU certification system) have to be overcome. Furthermore, an increased number of ecological standards and, additionally, social standards are needed. Strategies and innovative technologies are required to ensure a more efficient and consistent biofuel production. Changes in lifestyles, particularly in developed countries, can contribute substantially toward solving the impending conflicts of resources and sustainability aims. In order to pave the way for a world-wide sustainable bioenergy production, the EU biofuels policy (e.g., targets and subsidies) needs to be critically analysed and revised.

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