Azara Blog: Another group points out the downside of biofuels

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Date published: 2007/06/29

The BBC says:

A furious attack on the drive to grow more biofuels has been launched by a charity supporting poor farmers in developing countries.

The charity - called Grain - says their research shows the rush for biofuels is causing much more environmental and social damage than previously realised.

Biofuels from crops are being heavily promoted by the US and Europe as a welcome solution to climate change.

In theory their emissions are much lower than from fossil fuels.

But the report from the charity Grain amplifies recent warnings from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) that some biofuels produce hardly any carbon savings at all.

The UN says basic food prices for poor countries are being pushed up by competition for land from biofuels.
[ Grain ] says the media has been spun into using the attractive term biofuels - and wants them referred to as "agro-fuels" instead.

The plant fuel industry accepts that there is a limit to the energy to be obtained from crops - but believes plant fuels can be produced sustainably on a large scale. The EU wants to see at least 10% of road fuel derived from plants by 2020.

Oil firms believe this target is achievable using farm surpluses combined with fuel digested by bacteria from waste - so called second generation biofuels.

All fairly obvious stuff. Sure, if biofuel is generated from "waste" then everybody would be happy. But that is not where we are at today or in the medium term. Unfortunately the EU has been sucked into promoting biofuels as part of an alleged reduction of EU carbon emissions. In 20 or 30 years this could well be deemed to be one of the biggest policy disasters ever of the EU (but probably not as bad as the CAP).

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