Biofuels were once touted as the miraculous answer to our energy shortages and fears around climate change. But mounting evidence has exposed this supposedly ‘green fuel’ as the ultimate red herring.
The local impact
Huge government-set biofuel targets in rich countries are providing an incentive for foreign biofuel companies to oust farmers in poor countries from their fertile land.
Almost two thirds of land grabs in the past ten years have been for crops used for biofuels. This global land grab is leaving local communities in poor countries stranded, unable to grow their own food and feed their families or afford the food in their local market. Foreign biofuel companies are routinely breaking promises they make to communities to provide local improvements and jobs.
The global impact
Burning huge amounts of food in our cars has reduced the amount available to eat and subsequently caused global food prices to rocket.
One in eight people go hungry every day, yet each year the UK burns enough food in our cars as biofuels to feed over 10 million people.
There is growing international agreement that biofuels drive hunger. In June 2011, 10 of the world’s most powerful organisations, including the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank all recommended that G20 governments should scrap biofuel policies. In October 2012, the European Commission also acknowledged how biofuels drive hunger, with a proposal to limit the amount of food crops that can be used to meet biofuel targets.
The environmental impact
And if that wasn’t all catastrophic enough, evidence shows that most biofuels release more greenhouse gasses than the fossil fuels they were designed to replace.
This means that increasing the target for the amount of biofuel that must be in our petrol and diesel will actually make climate change worse!
Despite the rising human and environmental costs of biofuels, governments – including our own – are still spending billions of pounds promoting and subsidising their production. In doing so, they are exacerbating hunger and land grabbing and diverting much needed political attention and financial support away from genuine solutions to tackling climate change