Committee cautious about biofuels

PUBLISHED: 17:11 03 May 2008 | UPDATED: 08:24 28 March 2014

MAY 2, 2008: A The cross-party committee has not been as supportive of biofuels as the Government had hoped.

The Environmental Audit Committee has reiterated its call

for a moratorium on biofuel inclusion targets, despite pressure from

government to be more supportive of the emerging sector.

The group of 16 MPs published their first report, called Are biofuels sustainable?, in January this year.

In it, they said that government should not have specific targets to increase the use of biofuels in the absence of robust sustainability standards, because there was evidence that many biofuels actually do more harm than good to the environment. They were also concerned about the impact of biofuels on food prices.

The EAC therefore demanded that the government impose a moratorium on all such targets and instead “concentrate on the use of sustainable biofuels such as waste vegetable oil”.

In its response – sent to the committee at the end of March, but only made available today (Friday) – the government rejected the idea of a moratorium because:
• it believed the inclusion targets (2.5% this year, 5% by 2011) were “appropriately cautious”
• an opportunity to make carbon savings would be missed
• it would mean reneging on an earlier commitment, when some have already invested

But these issues have been rejected by the EAC. Even though the UK could, in theory, meet a 2.5% target, in reality much will be imported, with major impacts on land use and food prices in Third countries.

It also disputes the extent to which carbon savings will be possible, especially considering that significant imports will be needed to meet the 5% inclusion rate and factoring in extra greenhouse gas emissions from land use change.

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