Half a Million Virtual Cars Added to UK Roads by Bad Biofuel Policy

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photo: Alex Roberts via flickr

You've probably heard that land use changes associated with biofuels can sometimes seriously bring into question their carbon-neutral claims. That forest chopped down to grow soybeans or create a palm oil plantation did a better job preventing global warming as trees than it does as liquid fuel. A new report shows just how poor a job certain biofuels can be in this regards. UK biofuel requirements have inadvertently created emissions equal to putting an additional 500,000 cars on the roads:Felling Forests for Fuel More Than Negates Carbon Savings
The Guardian says that the research, carried out for Friends of the Earth, shows that

...the overall carbon cost of clearing forests for biofuels was equivalent to an extra 1.3m tonnes of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere since April last year. That was when the government's Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation (RTFO) was introduced, which mandated fuel suppliers to include at least 2.5% biofuel in their petrol or diesel. Today that requirement rises to 3.3%.

All of this is based on the fact that the most common biodiesel source in the UK is soy coming from Argentina, Brazil and the United States. For the study it was assumed that 10% of food crops displaced by growing soy for biofuel would be made up for by clearing forests to grow more crops.

That's perhaps a valid assumption in Brazil and Argentina, perhaps less so for the US even if land use changes do also occur in there. In any case, it certainly reinforces the notion that biofuels can easily do more harm than good if proper land management isn't practiced.

via: The Guardian
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