Time To Ecolabel Biofuels?


It wasn't too long ago that biofuels were basking in the glow of nearly everyone's approval - a quick fix for reducing CO2 emissions from transport. The EU aims to fill 10% of its transport needs with biofuels by 2020. But biofuel's easy ride may be over. One of Sweden's leading gas chains, OKQ8, last week canceled its plans to introduce a palmoil-based biodiesel to the market after critics like Greenpeace chided the company, saying that palm oil production can be as destructive to the environment as burning fossil fuels. Ethanol has experienced a 100% increase in demand here in the last year due to all the bio-fuel cars now entering the Swedish market, and ethanol producers are also getting criticized for CO2 emissions from its production.As governments the world over and in Europe rush to subsidize biofuel production the warning lights are flashing brighter. We've reported on the UN's special rapporteur Jean Zigler recently saying that converting arable land to biofuel production is a "crime against humanity" and calling for a moratorium on biofuels until the next generation of cellulosic biofuels - from wood, straw, non-food fibers and waste - are ready for prime time.

Perhaps to forestall criticism, Sweden's Moderate-led government coalition is proposing a green biofuel identification system be launched within the European Union. A green biofuels identification system would be, the governement implid, a way for consumers at the pump to verify the 'bio' in their biofuel. An EU committee is already working on environmental criteria for biofuels and the green marking or certification system would be part of the EU directive on fuel quality. The idea is to put in place rules to enforce reduced CO2 emissions both from fuel's production and its use.

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