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.