Problems at the pump as new biofuel law draws closer

Posted by jamie — 24 March 2008 at 9:00am - Comments

A car speeding along a road

In a few weeks' time on Tuesday 15 April, every fuel company in the UK will be obliged to include a certain amount of biofuel in their petrol and diesel supplies. This is because, to comply with EU policies, the government has decreed we will all be using biofuels whether we want to or not but as you're probably aware, a lot of people have severe concerns about this.

We've already highlighted the problems: how rainforests, savannahs and grasslands are being uprooted to make room for either biofuel crops like palm oil or food crops which are being diverted into biofuels production; how the price of food could soar as an increasing amount is diverted to produce biofuels instead of feeding people; and how many biofuels are increasing greenhouse gas emissions, not reducing them. And yet from mid-April when the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) comes into effect, there will be absolutely no criteria in place to make sure these biofuels are sustainable and really do help reduce emissions.

But there's still something you can do about this. Find out more here.

We're not alone in thinking this and many other organisations agree. Together with the likes of Oxfam, Friends of the Earth, the RSPB and Cafod, we've written to transport secretary Ruth Kelly, telling her to postpone the RTFO until strong sustainability criteria have been developed and implemented. (Read the full letter - pdf.)

In all fairness, after concerns were raised by some very prominent people and parliamentary bodies (including today's comments from Professor Robert Watson chief scientific advisor to Defra), the government's Renewable Fuels Agency has announced a scientific review of the environmental and social impacts of biofuels. But to make it look like the government is actually doing some serious about climate change, the RTFO will still be going ahead well before the agency reports back. If there was ever a case of putting the cart before the horse (or the chassis before the biofuel-injected engine), this is it.

Even so, this misguided piece of legislation isn't inevitable and Kelly can put it on hold. Please write to her, explaining why biofuels are not all they're cracked up to be, and ask her to postpone the RTFO.


http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/mp-Mar2008.php

Dear friends,

There is emerging concern that more and more grain and vegetable oil which should be used for food is being turned into biofuels for transport. This means cereals - corn, wheat, bread and pasta - and vegetable oil are becoming more expensive. It also makes meat and dairy more expensive, because grain is now turned into ethanol(biofuel), instead of feeding animals. High food prices are causing hardship in industrialised countries. In poorer countries, high food prices mean more people going hungry or starving.

Biofuelwatch has an email alert to MPs asking them to support calls for the UK Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) and EU legislation promoting biofuels to be suspended due to this emerging global food crisis. This alert will also copy all the RTFO ministers including Ruth Kelly.

Please click here to go to the webpage to send your MP an email:

http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/mp-Mar2008.php

The UK government's new chief scientific adviser, Professor John Beddington recently warned in a speech on March 6th:
"It is very hard to imagine how we can see a world growing enough crops to produce renewable energy and at the same time meet the enormous increase in the demand for food which is quite properly going to happen as we alleviate poverty."

This is a real crisis happening now - Josette Sheeran, the head of the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) that warned that due to rising food prices WPF is short of $0.5billion just to meet existing food aid deliveries. High prices are forcing more people into needing food aid too - for example, in Afghanistan, 2.55 million more people need food aid because they can no longer afford wheat. This week, Egypt's president has had to order the army to increase the production and distribution of bread, in an attempt to cope with serious shortages -

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7300899.stm

and called on the EU to end biofuel subsidies:


http://www.checkbiotech.org/green_News_Biofuels.aspx?...

For more explanation of this crisis, please see:

http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/foodcrisis.php

The Environmental Audit Committee recently called for a moratorium on the RTFO on sustainability grounds. Now there are grounds on the basis of the most important of human resources - food. PLEASE HELP US in urging MPs in the UK Parliament to suspend the RTFO. If this is introduced on April 15th 2008, then the poor and hungry will suffer.

Please click here to go to the webpage to send your MP an email:

http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/mp-Mar2008.php

Please forward on to your networks
Thank you

Andrew Boswell, biofuelwatch

Cheers for posting this Andrew - the more the merrier!

web editor
gpuk

Hey Andrew, don't you know that the vast majority (75%) of the world's poor are farmers? They are benefiting from high agricultural prices.

Your war against biofuels is a war against the poor. Please don't forget this.

http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/mp-Mar2008.php Dear friends, There is emerging concern that more and more grain and vegetable oil which should be used for food is being turned into biofuels for transport. This means cereals - corn, wheat, bread and pasta - and vegetable oil are becoming more expensive. It also makes meat and dairy more expensive, because grain is now turned into ethanol(biofuel), instead of feeding animals. High food prices are causing hardship in industrialised countries. In poorer countries, high food prices mean more people going hungry or starving. Biofuelwatch has an email alert to MPs asking them to support calls for the UK Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) and EU legislation promoting biofuels to be suspended due to this emerging global food crisis. This alert will also copy all the RTFO ministers including Ruth Kelly. Please click here to go to the webpage to send your MP an email: http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/mp-Mar2008.php The UK government's new chief scientific adviser, Professor John Beddington recently warned in a speech on March 6th: "It is very hard to imagine how we can see a world growing enough crops to produce renewable energy and at the same time meet the enormous increase in the demand for food which is quite properly going to happen as we alleviate poverty." This is a real crisis happening now - Josette Sheeran, the head of the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) that warned that due to rising food prices WPF is short of $0.5billion just to meet existing food aid deliveries. High prices are forcing more people into needing food aid too - for example, in Afghanistan, 2.55 million more people need food aid because they can no longer afford wheat. This week, Egypt's president has had to order the army to increase the production and distribution of bread, in an attempt to cope with serious shortages - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7300899.stm and called on the EU to end biofuel subsidies: http://www.checkbiotech.org/green_News_Biofuels.aspx?... For more explanation of this crisis, please see: http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/foodcrisis.php The Environmental Audit Committee recently called for a moratorium on the RTFO on sustainability grounds. Now there are grounds on the basis of the most important of human resources - food. PLEASE HELP US in urging MPs in the UK Parliament to suspend the RTFO. If this is introduced on April 15th 2008, then the poor and hungry will suffer. Please click here to go to the webpage to send your MP an email: http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/mp-Mar2008.php Please forward on to your networks Thank you Andrew Boswell, biofuelwatch

Cheers for posting this Andrew - the more the merrier! web editor gpuk

Hey Andrew, don't you know that the vast majority (75%) of the world's poor are farmers? They are benefiting from high agricultural prices. Your war against biofuels is a war against the poor. Please don't forget this.

About Jamie

I'm one of the editors of the website, and I do a lot of work on the Get Active section, as well as doing web stuff for the forests campaign. I've worked for Greenpeace since 2006 and, coming from a background as a freelance writer and web producer, it's been something of an education to be part of a direct action organisation. I'm from Cumbria originally but now I live in north London - I came to study here and somehow have never left.

My personal mumblings can be found @shrinkydinky.

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