'Eco-friendly' biofuels may do more harm than good

The comments below are not unusual to skeptics but the fact that they come from a mass-circulation British newspaper seems significant -- particularly as the NYT has recently said much the same. Methinks I see a fad dying

The drive for ‘eco-friendly’ biofuels has backfired and may be contributing to climate change, says a report. Plant-based fuels have pushed up food prices, increased deforestation and threatened endangered animals, the Nuffield Council on Bioethics found.

The think-tank said their spread has led to ‘near slavery conditions’ on sugar plantations in the developing world and may have increased greenhouse gas emissions. Its report branded the UK’s biofuel policies ‘unethical’ and called for guidelines to ensure future ‘green’ fuels do more good than harm.

Most green biofuels come from maize, sugarcane, palm oil and rapeseed oil. By law, at least 5 per cent of petrol and diesel sold on British forecourts must be biofuel by 2013 compared with 3 per cent now.

Switching to biofuels was supposed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels and prevent man-made climate change. But the report shows their speedy introduction has been a disaster. Clearing rainforests for biofuel crops in Brazil, Malaysia and Indonesia has forced people off their land and threatened orangutans. Ploughing has released carbon dioxide that would otherwise have been locked away in the soil.

In the U.S., turning farmland over to maize for fuel has cut supply of other crops and raised food prices.


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