Biofuels a carbon con - study

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

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.”

This study and comments only prove the point that I, myself, and others, such as Zac Goldsmith, have been making for a considerable time, namely that biofuels are no answer whatsoever.

Biofuels, in fact, will, more than likely, even create bigger problems as to emissions – we are still dealing with infernal combustion engines – and pollution. And this is just aside from the problem that growing any biofuel crop causes loss of food growing area and we cannot have this, period.

Several years already tests on biodiesel found that the particle emissions, the fine soot, is greater with biodiesel than it is with petroleum-based diesel. As the soot emission from the latter, which is being seen as the causal agent for many of the respiratory problems of children and adults in our time, why would we want to jum from the frying pan into the fire by using biodiesel.

We must terminate our love affair with the infernal combustion engine and the motorcar and look for new ways of transportation which, in fact, are actually old ways.

We must make our neighborhoods walkable and cycleable and thus wean ourselves off our dependence on petroleum products and other similar fuels and the motorcar. By doing this we might just about create vibrant communities again where people actually will interact with each other also.

While electric cars and -vans are rather nice, I am afraid, they will remain something that only a privileged few will be able to afford, especially when our energy security comes into question. How are we going to charge up all those batteries and from what are we going to make them; the batteries?

Biofuels are not the answer and neither, I think, are electric cars, -vans, -trucks and -bikes. We need to rethink our approach to things and we must do that now...

© 2011