News

Biofuel development put on hold

  • Official review reveals conclusions
  • Current biofuel production 'could be harmful'
  • Outlines a future where it could be sustainable
Words ByJim Holder

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GB

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Britain is expected to slow down its adoption of biofuels following concerns about its overall environmental impact.

The move follows a review by the Renewable Fuels Agency's chairman Professor Ed Gallagher, which investigated the indirect effects of biofuels.

It looked at whether they cause greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to long-term land-use change, leading to higher food prices.

Gallagher concluded:

• The introduction of biofuels should be slowed until effective controls are in place to prevent land-use change (land that is surrendered to crops for fuel instead of for food) and higher food prices;

• There is a future for a sustainable biofuels industry, but creating the right policy framework is challenging and will take time;

• Current policies, if left unchecked, will reduce biodiversity and may even cause greenhouse gas emissions rather than savings;

• Increasing demand for biofuels contributes to rising prices for some food commodities, notably oil seeds, that has a detrimental effect on the poor;

• Biofuel production must target idle and marginal land, and we must produce it from waste products and residues. This will avoid indirect land-use change and reduce competition with food;

• Specific incentives are needed to encourage advanced technologies that utilise biofuel crops grown on idle and marginal land.

The review also sets out a reduced rate of biofuel uptake until 2013/14, when it is hoped that a more sustainable way of producing biofuels will be in place.