Farron, Huppert & Sanders say: Time to take a tough stand on biofuels

Biofuel BusIt’s World Food Day and Tim Farron, Julian Huppert and Adrian Sanders have joined Zac Goldsmith, Caroline Lucas and other MPs in a joint letter to the Guardian to condemn EU policy on biofuels.

Taking land out of food production – which is increasingly happening in Africa – pushes up global food prices, while bringing new land into production leads to drained wetlands, ploughed-up grasslands and razed forests.

The writers are concerned that first generation biofuels, crops like wheat and oilseed rape, are being used for transport fuel. These crops are an essential food for a rapidly expanding global population. The letter gives a blunt message to the European Union, which is currently debating the cap on biofuel use in transport fuel.

The Lithuanian presidency of the EU is not pushing for a tight enough cap on damaging biofuels, nor pushing for measures to capture their full climate impacts, and we urge the UK government to show leadership in the negotiations and encourage other member states to support a 5% cap that will stop further increases in the use of food for fuel.

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  • Eddie Sammon 16th Oct '13 - 11:46am

    The severity of the problems of biofuels was created by the European Union’s biofuel directive back in 2003. If you seek to implement another directive then you’ll just have more unintended consequences. I think the best solution is to scrap all hard targets and limits. Just because something uses up land or takes down some trees doesn’t make it inherently bad.

  • Richard Dean 16th Oct '13 - 11:49am

    Is this a joke? The first quote seems to suggest that any change at all to land use is bad. Perhaps it could have been worded a little better? But the real joke is surely that people used to be all in favour of biofuels, which tends to suggest we shouldn’t believe all these dire warnings anyway – give it a couple of years and biofuels will be in favour again!

  • Eddie Sammon 16th Oct '13 - 12:11pm

    The unintended consequences of introducing this 5% cap, and therefore forcing the market for second generation biofuels open, will mainly be more expensive fuel. I don’t mind people recommending this, but I want to see this consequence mentioned everywhere where the legislation is proposed.

  • Eddie Sammon 16th Oct '13 - 12:51pm

    Just read the letter to the Guardian and it doesn’t mention any of the negatives of this legislation, the 5% cap or second generation biofuels. This makes me sad – a politician’s job should be to sell themselves and their party, whilst providing a law-making service to the public. It is not acceptable to leave out the negatives of laws, just like it is not acceptable to leave out the negatives of a £100,000 interest-rate swap or a PPI contract, just because you think it is for the best.

  • David Evans 16th Oct '13 - 2:46pm

    Eddie, It’s a letter to raise an issue, not an academic thesis on the impact of proposed legislation in its entirety. That will hopefully come later.

  • Eddie Sammon 16th Oct '13 - 4:16pm

    David, I don’t think it is good enough to just include the negatives in a report that hardly anyone will read and I am only asking from them what they expect and in fact force from us in financial services and other industries via regulation.

    I also researched biofuels for 18 months back in 2006-8 and all these problems were known then. I don’t like the way they are talking about taking a “tough stand on biofuels”, when in fact the tough stand that needs to be taken is against ill-thought-out legislation left in place for years.

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