Magazine article New Internationalist

Biofuels Rush

Magazine article New Internationalist

Biofuels Rush

Article excerpt

Three years ago, the EU set a target to source 10 per cent of its road and rail fuel from 'renewable sources' by 2020. But the subsequent rush for biofuels made from crops such as rapeseed, wheat and soya has been met by serious criticism.

Campaigners argue that making fuel from food crops has exacerbated food-price spikes and increased land grabbing, particularly in Africa. Food-based biofuels have minimal environmental benefit when their full life cycle is taken into account, and can in some cases be worse for the climate than fossil fuels.

The EU seems to have finally responded to this criticism, with the European Commission now suggesting that only five per cent should come from food-based crops. This opens up new risks and challenges, however, as the remainder of the target is to be met mostly with 'next generation' fuels made from nonfood crops and wastes. Agricultural and energy industries are preparing for a whole new biofuels rush, with a major meeting of politicians and business representatives - the European Advanced Biofuels Congress - taking place this month in Brussels. …

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