Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Will Negative Publicity for Biofuels Damage Uptake of Anaerobic Digestion of Waste Materials?

"Biofuels tax drivers €18 billion but don't reduce emissions"

The sub-headline above is the one used by the Edie Net website newsroom on 2 February (see quoted exerpt below), and it combines the concerns of a number of campaign groups about EU targets for bio-fuels. That biofuel production from specially grown energy crops isn't really environmentally beneficial, has been realised for the past few years by many in the industry. However, a number of governments are locked-in with historic commitments to biofuel producers to allow them to achieve EU bio-fuel targets that no longer make sense on the basis of sustainability (if they ever did). The biggest example of that is Germany, with several thousand energy crop biogas/ biofuel plants installed and operating.


Biofuel: People and Cars Competing for Grain

In the US last year enough grain to feed 330 million people for one year, at average world consumption levels, was instead turned into ethanol to fuel cars, according to new data from the US Department of Agriculture.
Graphic by Tiffany Farrant

The situation is emphatically NOT the same for waste organic material fed anaerobic digestion plants. The benefits of those remain very good for climate change, but the worry is that the public, and many politicians likewise, will fail to be aware of this. All our readers should bear this in mind and take every opportunity to make this distinction known to the public and their politicians.

Motorists across Europe are to pay €18 billion a year for petrol and diesel as a result of EU biofuel targets that do not to reduce emissions, according to new research today (February 2).
The research, carried out by the Global Subsidies Initiative and the FiFo Institute for Public Economics, for Friends of the Earth Europe and ActionAid claims the planned increase in biofuels use could cost European motorists an extra €94bn to €126bn between now and 2020.
At the same time the report claims demand for biofuels is pushing up global food prices and driving millions of poor people off their land and into hunger. 

In also says at least 37m hectares of land has already been grabbed globally to produce biofuels.
It also alleges Africa is hardest hit with 60% of land grabs for biofuel crops, depriving local communities of land and water essential for growing food. 

Friends of the Earth Europe biofuels campaigner, Robbie Blake, said: "Europe's squeezed consumers and taxpayers are paying the price for a flawed green policy that delivers no environmental benefits. 

"Motorists and the environment will bear the brunt of these ill-conceived biofuel targets - with higher prices at the pump and higher CO2 emissions. 

"Europe must scrap its biofuel targets and subsidies and replace them with more cost-effective policies that actually reduce emissions from transport and don't wreck the environment."

ActionAid's European policy and campaigns manager, Laura Sullivan, said: "Biofuels are an expensive climate con. 

So, may I make a plea to Edie Net and anyone else listening, that when they say this about biofuels (i.e. bio-diesel) made from crops THE SAME DOES NOT APPLY TO BIOFUEL MADE FROM WASTE ORGANIC MATERIALS. THESE ARE ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE AND VERY BENEFICIAL TO CLIMATE CHANGE REDUCTION TARGETS.

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