‘Environmentally-friendly’ biofuels are more harmful to the planet than normal fossil fuel
Daily Mail: 1 March 2010
‘Environmentally-friendly’ biofuels have been found to be more harmful to the planet than normal fossil fuel.
A new government study shows that the Department of Transport’s aim to increase the level of biofuel in fuel sold across Britain will result in millions of acres of forest being burned down and turned into plantations.
The findings of the study showed that using palm oil instead of fossil fuel increase emissions by 31 per cent, failing to meet the European Commission standard of each litre of biofuel reducing emissions by 35 per cent.
According to The Times, who claim to have seen the results of the study, the European Commission’s agriculture directorate expressed concern in an internal memo that any changes to sustainability standards would damage Europe’s lucrative biofuel industry.
A senior official at the EC is said to have added to the memo: ‘An unguided use of ILUC (indirect land use change) would kill biofuels in the EU.’
Currently, the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation requires 3.25 per cent of all fuel sold to come from crops – a figure expected to rise to 13 per cent by 2020.
The EC are said to now be hoping to protect its target by issuing a new set of rules stating that palm oil should be declared sustainable if it comes from ‘a continuously forested area’.
The rules explain such an area should contain trees which can reach heights of 5 metres, making up a crown canopy of more than 30 per cent.
The draft of the new rules concludes: ‘This means, for example, that a change from forest to oil palm plantation would not per se constitute a breach of the criterion.’
Burning down a rainforest to build a biofuel plantation released carbon, stored in trees and earth, which then takes up to 840 years for a palm oil plantation to soak up.
The destruction of rainforest in Sumatra has lead to the near extinction of the orang-utan in the Indonensian island.
There is now four times as much land used for palm oil plantations as there is containing natural orang-utan rainforest habitat.
Last year, a total of 127million litres of palm oil was added to fuel sold to British motorists.