Carried out by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), the research shows that the Government has underestimated the additional costs of biofuels due to inadequate price projection models used by various departments to calculate costs.

The research, commissioned by ActionAid, claims that this extra cost is in addition to the £1bn-1.8bn extra cost to motorists as a result of the UK’s biofuels policies that the IISD documented in 2012.

ActionAid’s biofuels policy advisor, Anders Dahlbeck, said: “UK motorists are paying even more than previously thought for their petrol because of a misguided biofuels policy which at the same time contributes to global hunger.

“While one in eight globally goes hungry, agricultural land is being diverted away from food production to produce biofuels around the world, including in this country. In the UK, we already use enough food as fuel annually to feed around 10 million people for a year,” added Dahlbeck.

According to ActionAid, in sub-Saharan Africa six million hectares of land – 38 times the size of London – are now under the control of European companies seeking to make money from Europe’s biofuel policies.

It added that of the European companies that have invested in biofuels in Sub-Saharan Africa, 30 are from the UK.

The EU’s renewable energy target, which requires 10% of all energy used in EU transport to come from renewable sources by 2020, promotes biofuels as a greener alternative to fossil fuels. But research has shown that rather than cutting greenhouse gas emissions many biofuels increase them, says ActionAid.

IIDS estimates that the EU’s biofuels policy could create carbon emissions equivalent to putting 26 million new cars on the roads by 2020.

Dahlbeck added: “The Government must revise the model it uses to measure the costs of the UK’s biofuels policies, but more importantly it must remove its damaging biofuels target and invest in renewable energy sources that do not contribute to global hunger.

“UK Members of the European Parliament must also use a vote on the future of biofuels in early September to cap the amount of biofuels coming from crops grown on land that could have grown food at no more than 5% in petrol. Anything else would be to fail the millions of people living without enough food and unable to feed their families because of rising food prices, partly caused by biofuels”.

Leigh Stringer

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