Biofuels: Driving to destruction?

Increased demand for biofuels in the UK will see an area the size of Northern Ireland being converted to farmland overseas – and greenhouse gas emissions going through the roof.

That’s the conclusion of a new report commissioned by Friends of the Earth and 8 other organisations.

Fueling the fleet

The report shows biofuels could be powering nearly 10% of all transport by the end of the decade.

But more than 90% of these fuels will come from food crops such as soypalm oil and sugar cane, meaning:

  • Forests, grasslands and peat lands will be destroyed
    as more land is given over to crop fields
  • Increased climate emissions 
    as a result of burning and ploughing up natural habitats (equivalent to 6 million more cars).
  • More hunger in poor countries
    as less existing crop land is available to grow crops for human consumption

Biofuels in the fast lane

Responding to the report - Ministers admitted their biofuel policy is counter-productive. They acknowledge greenhouse gas emissions associated with biofuels are substantially greater than the potential savings.

The analysis is already consistent and robust in showing that ILUC ["indirect land use change"] represents a significant risk to achieving greenhouse gas savings from the use of some biofuels.

UK Government response to EU Commission consultation on ILUC

But  the Government still plans to treble biofuel use by 2020.

Take action

The Government must account for emissions from deforestation when considering the impact of biofuels.

Email the Minister responsible, Norman Baker, today.

Further reading

Driving to destruction
25 Nov, 2010 (PDF†) 1.274Mb
The impacts of Europe’s biofuel plans on carbon emissions and land