Monday, August 20, 2007

Biofuels switch a mistake, say researchers

Enviro: It looks like finally people are taking a longer look at the cost of making Biofuels and realizing it doesn't add up.

Increasing production of biofuels to combat climate change will release between two and nine times more carbon gases over the next 30 years than fossil fuels, according to the first comprehensive analysis of emissions from biofuels.

Biofuels - petrol and diesel extracted from plants - are presented as an environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuels because the crops absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they grow.

The study warns that forests must not be cleared to make way for biofuel crops. Clearing forests produces an immediate release of carbon gases into the atmosphere, accompanied by a loss of habitats, wildlife and livelihoods, the researchers said.

Britain is committed to substituting 10% of its transport fuel with biofuels under Europewide plans to slash carbon emissions by 2020.

"Biofuel policy is rushing ahead without understanding the implications," said Renton Righelato of the World Land Trust, a conservation charity. "It is a mistake in climate change terms to use biofuels."

One of the fears is developing countries will drop foodstock for biostock and another study out is there is money to be made.

A steep rise in prices of agricultural commodities that has been linked to the global boom in biofuels is good for the world’s rural poor, a new report says.

The findings, published in a book, are contrary to recent fears that increased use of food crops in the manufacture of biofuels could lead to marked rise in food insecurity with the poor as the biggest losers.

Worldwatch, the publisher of the report, says that though demand for biofuels may make life harder for the urban poor, the rural folks stand to benefit from sale of agricultural produce to manufacturers of biofuels.

“Decades of declining agricultural prices have been reversed thanks to the growing use of biofuels,” says Christopher Flavin, president of the Institute.

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