Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Why 'green' biofuels are endangering orang-utans

Biofuels are green fuels, right? Aren't they much less damaging than traditional fossil fuels like petrol and diesel? Well, yes... and no. Alternative fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel can indeed help reduce our emissions of climate changing gases, but without proper controls on their production they could instead make matters much worse.

It's stating the obvious but crops need somewhere to grow and there is a finite amount of arable land on the planet. If we're growing crops to feed our cars instead of ourselves, we will be the ones losing out with increasing food prices and increasing poverty for those who struggle to get enough food as it is.

Worse, forests are being torn down to make way for biofuel plantations. With the link between deforestation and climate change well-established, biofuels have the potential to be a worse climate polluter than dirty old fossil fuels, as well as putting endangered species such as orang-utans under even greater pressure. Now that really would be dumb.

Want to know more? Read the article about biofuels on our blog.

The government is keen to increase the amount of biofuels we use and intends to make all fuel companies increase their supplies. The bad news is, they haven't any decent standards to make sure these biofuels will actually be the green alternative they're intended to be.

However, there is also good news. The government wants to know what we think about biofuels so we have a chance to ensure they get it right. That means developing strict and compulsory standards which are monitored by an independent agency to check that there's no deforestation, wildlife habitat destruction, impacts on vulnerable people, or increase in climate change gases such as carbon dioxide.

Biofuels need to be green from the field to the forecourt so write to the government now and tell them to get it right. You'll have to hurry though, as you'll need to get your email or letter in before Thursday 17 May.

Thanks for your support!

Jamie Woolley
Web team
9 May 2007

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