Biofuels failing to meet standards

Environmental groups have called for biofuels targets to be scrapped after data published by the Renewable Fuels Agency showed that less than 20% of biofuels currently on sale in the UK are meeting environmental standards.

The UK Government’s Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) aims to increase biofuels to 5% of fuel sold by 2010-11, while the EU is expected to agree a target of 10% by 2020.

The Renewable Fuels Agency’s (RFA) first monthly report, which covers the first month of the RTFO from April 15 to May 14, was published on Thursday.

It showed that just 19% of biofuels met environmental standards, compared to a 30% target for the year.

The market was dominated by imports, but retailers did not know the country of origin or the feedstock used for nearly half of the fuels they sold.

Asad Rehman, Friends of the Earth’s biofuels campaigner said: “The shocking admission that we are unable to identify the origin of nearly half the biofuels used in the UK means that the Government cannot assure the British people that the biofuels in their petrol tanks have not destroyed rainforests.

“That less than a fifth of the biofuels used fail to meet even minimal environmental standards adds further weight to Friends of the Earth’s view that they are a phoney solution to climate change.

“The Government must put the RTFO on hold and vote against EU biofuels targets.”

Dr Sue Armstrong Brown, the RSPB’s head of countryside and species conservation, said: “This report is even worse than we feared and shows what a shambles the UK’s biofuels’ policies have become.

“Here is yet more proof, direct from a UK government body, that voluntary environmental and social standards just aren’t working.

“These standards must be strengthened and made compulsory before targets are raised any further.”

RFA CEO Nick Goodall said: “We will continue to publish information as soon as we are able, and will be reporting company performance figures in our October quarterly report.”

Last month, the RFA’s review of biofuels led by Professor Ed Gallagher concluded that without more safeguards, biofuels could harm biodiversity, cause greenhouse gas emissions, and contribute to rising food prices (see related story).

Kate Martin

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