Azara Blog: Yet another anti-biofuels comment from the UN

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Date published: 2007/11/15

The BBC says:

The biofuels bonanza will crash unless producers can guarantee their crops have been produced responsibly, the UN's environment agency chief has said.

Achim Steiner of the UN Environment Programme (Unep) said there was an urgent need for standards to make sure rainforests weren't being destroyed.

Biofuel makers also had to show their products did not produce more CO2 than they negated, he told BBC News.

Critics say biofuels will lead to food shortages and destroy rainforests.

They point to the destruction of Indonesia's peat swamps as an example of biofuel folly.

The swamps are one the richest stores of carbon on the planet and they are being burned to produce palm oil.

Mr Steiner implied that because of Indonesia's inability to police its land use, biofuels from palm oil grown by the nation might never be deemed to be sustainable.

But he said some biofuels could be considered sustainable. He highlighted ethanol production in Brazil, and a dry land crop called jatropha, which is resistant to pests and droughts.

Mr Steiner urged investors not to turn their backs on developing second or third generation fuels that would use non-food crops and burnable waste.

He feared that beneficial biofuels might be lost as part of a consumer backlash.

The anti-biofuels lobby is getting all the press these days, and unfortunately they are largely correct. The question that is most important for the UK in this context is whether the EU will press ahead with their demand for the use of biofuels in transport, or whether they will finally admit that this policy is going to do more harm than good.

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