Biofuels a carbon con says study

A study by environmental charities and groups says that African biofuels will result in up to six times more carbon emissions than fossil fuels.

The study, commissioned by the RSPB, Action Aid and Nature Kenya looked at plans to develop a jatropha plantation in Dakatcha in Kenya.

Taking into account the emissions produced throughout the production process, the study found that jatropha would emit between 2.5 and 6 times more greenhouse gases than fossil fuels.

The demand for biofuel in Europe comes partly from the EU targets for 10% of transport to be renewable by 2020. Many European countries plan to meet this target through use of biofuels rather than a depending only on electric vehicle technology.

The RSPB’s Kenya expert, Dr Helen Byron, said: “No government has done a proper assessment of biofuels imported from overseas to see if they will, in fact, reduce our carbon emissions – so we decided to do it for them.

“We were shocked to discover that the biofuel produced from the proposed plantations at Dakatcha will result in up to six times more carbon emissions than fossil fuels.”

The charities say that the plans for a plantation in the Dakatcha Woodlands will displace the indigenous people and threaten the wildlife in the area.

They want the British government to act to find alternatives to biofuels. Dr Byron said: “The UK Government recognises the problems that subsidising biofuels is causing across the world and last week announced that it intends to limit such subsidies.

“But ministers must go further, they must challenge the European targets for biofuels and instead adopt an ambitious programme to reduce emissions from cars through improving efficiency and a massive roll-out of electric vehicles.”

Alison Brown

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