Britain's promise to more than double its use of biofuels by 2020 is "significantly" adding to worldwide carbon emissions, the Government admitted yesterday. Britain is signed up to a European guarantee to source 10 per cent of its transport fuel from renewable sources, such as biofuels, within the next 10 years.
But ministers have said that the policy is proving counter-productive and the greenhouse emissions associated with biofuels are substantially greater than the savings. They are now urging the European Commission to rethink the plan. The admission coincides with a major study published this week which concludes that biofuels will create an extra 56 million tons of CO2 per year – the equivalent of 12 to 26 million cars on Europe's roads by 2020.
This is because Europe will need to cultivate an area somewhere between the size of Belgium and the Republic of Ireland with biofuels to meet the target, which can only be done through land conversion – and more controversially, deforestation. The work will be on such a scale that the carbon released from the vegetation, trees and soil will be far greater than those given off by fossil fuels they are designed to replace.
The study, from the Institute for European Environmental Policy, found that far from being 35 to 50 per cent less polluting, as required by the European Directive, the extra biofuels will be twice as bad for the environment...