Feeds

Biofuels are the 'next environmental danger'

Everything that is good, is bad

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Far from being the salvation of an oil-hungry society, biofuels could actually trigger increases in food prices and deforestation, according to a report.

The Co-operative Insurance Company, part of the UK's Co-op Group, has published a study that warns that the fuels might never live up to their promise, and could have a negative, rather than positive environmental impact, the BBC reports.

It doesn't suggest doing away with them altogether, but says that current targets for swapping petrol and diesel for fuel derived from crops are too ambitious.

The UK government, and the European Union have set their sights on using biofuels in 10 per cent of our cars by 2020. But the Co-op's report suggests that to produce this amount of fuel on a global scale would require as much as nine per cent of arable land being diverted to fuel crops.

Professor Dieter Helm, who sits of the government's Council for Science and Technology, told the BBC: "The sort of targets being set for biofuels will have quite radical effects on agriculture and therefore will have very substantial consequences for food prices and agriculture more generally."

He points out that rainforest is already being felled to make way for fuel crops.

"Think of the energy involved in felling those rainforests. Think about the damage to the climate being done by the loss of those trees. Think about the ploughing and the cultivation of fields. Think about the transport of those fuels, and you start to realise the carbon imprints are about much more than simply what happens to grow in a particular field at a particular point in time."

The Co-op's conclusions echo a recent report from the UN, which suggests using biofuels for power and heat would be more effective than using them for transport. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
Human spacecraft dodge COMET CHUNKS pelting off Mars
Odyssey orbiter yet to report, though - comet's trailing trash poses new threat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.