Ethical development crucial to future of biofuels

17th May 2011

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Natural resources ,
  • Transport ,
  • Energy ,
  • Mitigation ,
  • Ecosystems



Biofuels will play a key role in reducing carbon dioxide emissions from transport, but their adoption must be carefully managed to protect natural habitats and ensure food supplies, warn experts.

In a new publication, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has predicted that biofuels could sustainably power 27% of the world’s transport by 2050, up from just 2% today.

However, it also cautions governments that they must be careful to ensure that the expansion in the cultivation of biofuel crops has no negative impact on land use or food prices and says that technological developments are needed to lower the amount of fossil fuels used in making biofuels.

“Competition for land between biofuel production and food, fodder, as well as fibre production needs to be carefully addressed to avoid negative impacts from biofuel expansion on food security,” admitted Bo Diczfalusy, the IEA’s director of sustainable energy policy and technology.

The IEA’s report follows the announcement by the UK’s Nuffield Council on Bioethics that current biofuel policies are unethical.

“The rapid expansion of biofuels production in the developing world has led to problems such as deforestation and the displacement of indigenous people,” said Professor Joyce Tait, chair of the working party that produced the Nuffield report.

The council has set out six principles for legislation on biofuels development that considers the wider consequences of their production, including ensuring they are not created at the expense of basic human rights such as access to food and water.


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