European Community Re-Evaluates Biofuel Committment
By Kevin Miller
European officials are re-thinking their goal of increasing the EC’s use of biofuels. European governments had set a goal of meeting ten percent of their transportation needs with biofuels- and twenty percent of its energy generation from renewable sources- by year 2020. However, the specter of rising food prices and talk of deforestation due to biofuel producation has caused some officials to have a change of heart, or at least a change of mind.
The European Parliament’s Environment Committee voted on Monday to approve a measure reducing the biofuel target to four percent, and that the issue shoudl be revisited in 2015 before making a decision whether to increase the target to between 8 and 10 percent. The Environmental Committee’s approval of the measure means it goes on to the full European Parliament. The alternative measure also proposes that 20 percent of renewable transport fuels must come from biomass such as algae which does not require use of food-crop land for production.
In the US, it is estimated that a full quarter of this year’s corn crop will be used to produce biofuels. Last year’s big energy bill requires that 36 billion gallons of biofuels be produced annually by 2022. Because a majority of biofuels in the US are manufactured from crops that could otherwise be used for food, food prices have gone up, and forested land is being turned into farmland in order to produce additional food crops.
A new report by the british govermnent contends that biofuels are not slowing climate change as they were believed to be able to do. Too, production of biofuels may actually be worse for the environment than the use of conventional oil, especially when production and transportation costs are accounted for.
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