Monday, 9 July 2007

Are Biofuels the 'Holy Grail' for transport?

For many people, biofuels are the perfect choice for a greener transport system. They give us independence from the Middle East and all its problems and they are a green alternative to petrol and diesel. That is one side of the story. Like all stories there is another side, a darker side. Some people paint an altogether different picture. Biofuels are creating third world hunger, hardship to farmers and causing the destruction of the world’s remaining rain forests. This is pretty much the reality of the rush to make money from the boom in biofuels. Once again ordinary people are being sacrificed in the stampede for profit. The EU leaders and Brazil’s president joined forces to urge for an international market to ensure biofuels are produced in an ethical and environmentally sound way.

What is needed is strict and enforced regulations to ensure the rise in demand for biofuls does not lead to more of the worlds rainforests being destroyed to make way for biofuel crops. The saving in CO2 from cars using biofuel would be more than offset by rise in CO2 from the deforestation. The other and equally important point is how the biofuel crop producers, the farmers and farm workers are treated. The whole process needs to have standards in place to protect workers rights, to ensure fair pricing and to ensure biofuel crops do not displace food crops and increase hunger in poorer countries. Whether such a policy can be enforced or even agreed remains to be seen.

[Via The Guardian]

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