Renew On Line (UK) number73

Extracts from NATTA's journal
Renew, Issue 173 May-June 2008
   Welcome   Archives   Bulletin         

1. UK Needs to try harder 

2. Wave and Tidal-  ‘slow progress’

3. RO bands- no to REFIT  

4. Biofuel doubts grow 

5 Micro power- ups and down  

6. Reactions to Nuclear White paper 

7. Wind power developments  

8. Planning Changes 

9. Global developments  

10. EU News 

11. Nuclear News


4. Biofuel doubts grow 

The Commons Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has warned that biofuels for vehicles may be too expensive and have too many environmental impacts while not reducing net greenhouse gas  emissions. So the EU should rethink its target of getting 10% of vehicle fuel from biofuels by 2020.

EAC Chairman Tim Yeo said: ‘Biofuels can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from road transport- but at present most biofuels have a detrimental impact on the environment overall. The Government must ensure that its biofuels policy balances greenhouse gas emission cuts with wider environmental impacts, so that biofuels are only used where they contribute to sustainable emissions reductions. Without this reassessment biofuels could lead to a range of environmental impacts including water pollution and biodiversity loss. In addition the absence of international mechanisms to protect rainforests means that biofuels will add further to the already significant pressures to cut them down to make way for palm oil plantations.’

The Soil Association said the report ‘exposes the false green mantle masking the true costs of and vested interests behind the push for biofuels. The main crops proposed for producing biofuels, oil-seed rape and sugar-beet, are simply old commodity crops seeking to revive flagging markets. More deviously, the biotech industry is trying to use biofuels as a ‘Trojan Horse’ to by-pass public hostility to GM crops.’

The RSPB also attacked the EU targets as ‘farcical’ while the Royal Society produced a critical report arguing that ‘unless biofuel development is supported by appropriate policies and economic instruments then there is a risk that we may become locked into inefficient biofuel supply chains that potentially create harmful environmental and social impacts. New technologies need to be accelerated that can help address these issues, aided by policies that provide direct incentives to invest in the most efficient biofuels.’

*The European Commission also expressed doubts about whether the target could be met, and acknowledged that there were unexpected side-effects, but it recently published sustainability criteria for biofuels, stipulating that whether EU-grown or imported, biofuel crops should not be grown in forest, wetland or permanent grassland areas. But EU Energy Commissioner Andros Piebalgs reacted strongly against the EAC’s comments: biofuels were ‘the most immediately feasible way’ of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles. He added that ‘the key contribution of biofuels to the sustainability of the transport sector should not make us forget its other benefits which are as important as the environmental ones, namely: reducing our dependency on imported oil; providing a development opportunity for poor countries, and paving the way for second-generation biofuels’. See Section 9  below or more on the biofuels debate.

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