Agrofuels - the current status of the threat they pose to civilisation on Earth
[This is a guest blog of mine that will appear shortly on the excellent ACTION AID website, as part of their very welcome 'biofuels action debate']
Let's start with this, from the agrofuels-mad U.S. of A.: http://environmentalresearchweb.org/blog/2010/03/the-smallprint-of-rfs2.html One remarkable detail that stands out in this (worrying) article is that the Environmental Protection Agency (sic.) analysis here accounts for the reduction in food consumption which is associated with using foodstuffs for fuel as a GHG benefit Quick translation: Starving people is supposed to be good for the planet!
That moment of madness tells you a lot about the rise of agrofuels, which is all about profit, and none about reducing GHG emissions, let along about being good for people.
The issue of land-use being altered away from food toward fuels is big in
In November 2008, eight of the largest agrofuel-producing countries, including
threatened the EU that they would go to the WTO if restrictions on agrofuels-influenced land-use change were not
removed: this was following a massive lobbying effort by agrofuel companies in
But there has been bad news as well as good lately for those of us campaigning against agrofuels. Take this, for instance:
The recent draft communication from the European Commission to the European Parliament on the sustainability of biofuels says natural
forests have to be protected. But the devil is in the definition of a forest. The document says: "Continuously
forested areas are defined as areas where trees have reached, or can reach, a height of five metres, making up a crown cover of more than
30%. They would normally include natural forest, forest plantations and other plantations such as palm oil. This means that a change from
forest to oil palm would not per se constitute a breach of the criterion [for sustainability]."
If plantation bosses succeed in redefining palm oil as forestry then that will attract double subsidies from European taxpayers - for managing
forests and for producing agrofuels. Double subsidies for ripping up rainforests!
The hugest long-term threat posed by the agrofuels business is in greenwashing aviation. The aviation industry is 'committed' to reducing their CO2 by more than 90% by 2050. This is simply and utterly impossible, given the industry's massive expansion plans. So the aviation industry pretends that they will put the entire aviation sector on to agrofuels, and greenwashes their emissions in the process. The problem is that agrofuels, in part for the reasons given above, are far more destructive to the environment (in most cases) than kerosene
Last but not least, check this out: http://rupertread.fastmail.co.uk/FYI%20%20Highlevel%20biofuels%20lobbying.doc . This email, that some MEPs received last week from the dismal Burston Marsteller PR firm, and that at least one of them had the courage to pass onto us and thus to make public, will give you some idea of the kind of massive lobbying effort that the agrofuels profiteers are currently engaged in, as they endeavour to replace biodiversity and resilience with monocultures and temporary profits.
I've been campaigning against industrial biofuels for nearly a decade now. It is absolutely vital that we have politicians in
[Many thanks to Andrew Boswell, Mark Crutchley and other friends and colleagues who helped me research this piece.]