UK: just 4 % of biofuel imported meets the environmental sustainability standard

The report of the Renewable Fuels Agency finds that only 4 per cent of biofuels imported for use in the UK – and 20 per cent of all biofuels used in the UK – meet the RTFO environmental sustainability standard. The Renewable Fuels Agency says this “provides little assurance about the way the feedstock was grown and any environmental and social impacts it may have had.”


Consequently, once again, the EU must focus its policies on developing greener transport alternatives to cars and truck.


Additionally, the report founds, in a case study looking at the effects of the production of Malaysian palm oil – which is imported to the UK – that:

* It will take 130 years to pay back the carbon emissions caused by deforestation to make way for oil palm plantations in the area;

* Oil palm plantations that have required land clearance are linked to water pollution and soil erosion;

* Affected communities will typically lose some or all of their traditional means of support from the forest, becoming more vulnerable to food and financial insecurity;

* Land conflicts in the state of Sarawak are almost ubiquitous on new estates;

*  “The evidence seems compelling that increased demand for palm oil biodiesel is a contributory driver to deforestation and peat degradation in parts of Malaysia.”


The African does not escape from these problems met in Malaysia.


In its press release, Friends of the Earth adds:

Although the report notes a 46 per cent reduction in carbon emissions under the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation, this figure does not take into account emissions caused by direct and indirect changes in land use that have occurred to make way for biofuel crops. 42 per cent of land use before biofuel crops were planted was stated as “unknown”.


Nearly two years after the Governement's own Gallagher Review found that indirect land use changes caused by the drive for biofuels were increasing carbon emissions, there is still no system in place to account them. Indirect land use change includes for example, the displacement of farmland being used for food production onto forest land. The Renewable Fuels Agency states that if indirect land use change was left unchecked, biofuels "could potentially cause an increase in overall carbon emissions rather than a reduction". (Thursday 28 January 2010)


Go back