Biofuels con could cost UK motorists an extra £2bn per year

Biofuels

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Motorists, the environment and poor people will be hit hard by biofuels in petrol, new research shows.

Car drivers in the UK will pay up to £2 billion more on the forecourt in 2020 if the government decides to increase the proportion of biofuels in petrol. The policy could also create an extra 13 million tonnes of carbon emissions every year in the UK, and more people in developing countries will go hungry and be pushed off their land as biofuel crops are grown instead of food.

New research commissioned by ActionAid and Friends of the Earth, undertaken by the Global Subsidies Initiative, shows that Government plans to increase the proportion of biofuels in UK petrol to 10% to meet our share of the EU’s renewable energy target by 2020 will increase the cost of fuel by the equivalent of an additional litre on every full tank.

The EU target promotes biofuels as a greener alternative to fossil fuels. But our research shows that the reality is quite the opposite; rather than cutting greenhouse gas emissions most biofuels increase them. The answer is to invest in real solutions that would provide cost-effective alternatives like improved public transport and cleaner cars that can actually deliver reductions in GHG emissions without having the devastating social or environmental impacts attached to biofuels.

Meredith Alexander, ActionAid UK’s Head of Policy said: "The UK must scrap its biofuel targets. Motorists, the environment and poor people in developing countries will bear the brunt of this ill-conceived directive. Prices at the pump will be higher and so will CO2 emissions. Increased biofuel production will have disastrous consequences as food prices are forced up and millions of people go hungry and lose their land."

Kenneth Richter, Friends of the Earth’s Biofuels Campaigner said: "The Government keeps talking about bringing down costs but here we are paying billions for biofuels that do nothing to boost our economy and nothing to tackle climate change.

"This money would be better spent on improving our train and bus services, promoting cleaner cars, and making cycling a much safer option for short journeys – saving people cash every day."

As well as hitting consumers’ pockets hard, biofuels are bad for business – by 2020, a typical UK lorry driver will be spending as much as £1,400 extra per year on diesel.

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photo : ©Photo: Atul Loke/Panos