Is the biofuel dream over?
by Fred Pearce and Peter Aldhous - December 15, 2007
Can biofuels help save our planet from a climate catastrophe? Farmers and fuel companies certainly seem to think so, but fresh doubts have arisen about the wisdom of jumping wholesale onto the biofuels bandwagon.
The misgivings come as delegates from around the world gather in Bali, Indonesia, this week, to begin work on a tougher climate agreement to succeed the Kyoto protocol.
About 12 million hectares, or around 1 per cent of the world's fields, are currently devoted to growing biofuels. Sugar cane and maize, for example, are turned into bioethanol, a substitute for gasoline, while rapeseed and palm oil are made into biodiesel. That figure will grow because oil is so costly, and because biofuels supposedly emit fewer greenhouse gases than fossil fuels.
But a slew of new studies question the logic behind expanding biofuel production. For a start, there may not be enough land to grow the crops.
Source - Fred Pearce and Peter Aldhous, The New Scientist, Magazine issue 2634