REA questions analysis which indiscriminately demonises all biofuels

REA’s Head of Renewable Transport Clare Wenner explains how good biofuels can help to de-carbonise transport and feed the world

The REA is disappointed by the recent briefing prepared by Friends of the Earth and Action Aid on the effects of biofuels. The briefing again confuses the issue of sustainable transport for legislators and consumers alike, as it quotes selectively from its references and does not reflect the balanced way in which the original authors approached their work. Crucially, the briefing omits the fact that biofuels, like any other technology, can be done well or badly.

Effort should be directed at encouraging good biofuels, such as those we produce in the UK, rather than demonising all biofuels. The UK implements a range of mandatory sustainability standards for biofuels. This is the only sector where such standards are legally enforceable.

Doing biofuels well, as we do in the UK, can bring significant benefits. It can reduce transport sector greenhouse gas emissions by over 50%; it can produce useful co-products for the food-chain; and it could produce up to 6,000 green jobs by 2020 in a sector which could be worth £1 billion.

The Climate Change Committee stated in December 2011 that there will be an increasing need for good, sustainable biofuels until well into the 2030s. With oil prices rising and extraction technology becoming increasingly polluting, and with non-liquid fuel alternatives, such as electric and hydrogen vehicles, expected to require massive subsidies to 2030 and beyond, biofuels represent the best and most cost-effective way of reducing transport sector carbon emissions in the here and now. In Brazil and the USA ethanol is already cheaper than petrol thanks to positive Government policy.

Clare Wenner, Head of Renewable Transport at the REA, comments:

“The harsh truth is that carbon emissions in the transport sector continue to go up. We should be much smarter about the way we de-carbonise transport and only allow the use of good biofuels. Otherwise we leave consumers with no choice but to use ever more expensive and polluting fossil fuels. That’s what we should be afraid of: having no viable low carbon alternatives for the next 20 years as oil prices continue to rise – then the oil companies really will have us over a barrel.”

There are currently no comments for this article.

Login to comment. slider