Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Farmland the size of Ireland could be used for EU bio-fuel requirement

The European Union is insisting that member countries increase the total consumption of bio-fuels to 10%.

The increase of food based bio-fuels will mean less food being grown for eating. Even if bio-fuel suppliers compensate for the lost land for human consumption it would need to clear more land to do it. Doing so would expel more emissions into the atmosphere as equipment makes the land suitable for farming.

A study from an environmental policy think tank shows just how much land will be taken away by the new bio-fuel policy, and how much emissions it will create. From the Guardian, writer John Vidal gives us the study details.

Plans to make European motorists use more biofuels could take an area the size of Ireland out of food production by 2020 and accelerate climate change, a study has found.

The report by the independent Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) is based on plans that countries have submitted to the EU detailing how they intend to meet their legal requirement to include 10% of renewable energy in all transport fuels by 2020.

IEEP calculations suggest that the indirect effect of the switch will be to take between 4.1m and 6.9m hectares out of food production. In addition, say the authors, opening up land to compensate for the food taken out of production will lead to between 27m and 56m tonnes of additional CO² emissions, the equivalent of putting nearly 26m more cars on the road.

The study says European countries have chosen to meet the EU renewable energy targets by importing so-called first generation biofuels from African countries or from Indonesia and Brazil, rather than by promoting the use of advanced biofuels, electric vehicles or energy efficiency to reduce the environmental impact of transport.

"The renewable energy directive was adopted to help combat climate change, however, through promoting the use of conventional biofuels with no consideration of indirect land use change impacts it has the potential to actually increase the EU's greenhouse gas emissions.

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