A UK plan to help tackle global warming by increasing the use of biofuels such as palm oil and rapeseed may do more harm to the environment than good, four environmental campaign groups said.
Fuel suppliers will have to ensure that from April 2008 a certain percentage of their sales come from biofuels, which emit less carbon dioxide when they are burned than petrol produces, under a Department for Transport program. The aim is for 5% of all fuel sold at UK gas stations in 2010 to be biofuels. The proposal „could, in its present form, see businesses producing biofuels by destroying rainforests and wetlands, not only threatening endangered habitats and species but also releasing far more carbon into the atmosphere than could ever hope to be saved by replacing fossil fuels,” Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, WWF and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said today in an e-mailed statement. The groups said the government should tighten rules to ensure biofuel producers meet minimum standards on greenhouse gas emissions, and establish „environmental audits” of the entire life-cycle of the fuel, from cultivation through transportation to combustion.
The Department of Transport said in an e-mailed statement that the renewable fuels program is expected to save emissions equivalent to about 1 million tons of carbon a year by 2010, and that companies will be required to report on the benefits of the biofuels they use and how sustainable produced they are. „We want to encourage sustainable biofuels that save high levels of carbon,” the department said. „Once the reporting systems have been established and demonstrated to be robust, we will look to move towards mandatory requirements.” (Bloomberg)