ActionAid: UK biofuels targets do more harm than good

We risk reversing progress on global hunger and climate change if we don’t change current biofuels targets in the UK reports ActionAid UK's Jonathan Tench.

Jonathan Tench is a government relations adviser for ActionAid UK

We risk reversing the progress we’ve made on global hunger and climate change if we don’t change current biofuels targets in the UK, warned the Nuffield Council in a major report today, covered by the Telegraph, Daily Mail, BBC and Guardian. This backs up what we’ve been saying at ActionAid for some time.

The report comes at a critical time for decision makers in the UK. The Department for Transport is currently consulting over the UK’s use of biofuels, under EU targets to use more renewable sources for transport fuel.

What’s the problem with biofuels?

Food prices are being driven skyward partly by the increasing demand from rich countries for farmers to grow maize and other crops to put in our cars and not on our plates. Turning more food into fuel has had a devastating impact on the ability of the world’s poorest people to put enough food on the family table.

The World Bank says food prices have tipped an extra 44 million people into hunger since last summer; we could be on the verge of a repeat of the food price crisis of 2008.

More, biofuels will not help us tackle climate change; it will actually make matters worse. Recent research shows that when a full life cycle analysis is conducted on industrial biofuels – which must include all land use change – the net effect of UK biofuel policy is to increase greenhouse gas emissions. The UK could be adding up to 13 million tonnes of green house gas emissions into the atmosphere, the equivalent of putting 6m extra cars onto UK roads.

Biofuels targets provide an incentive to large multinational companies to oust farmers in poor countries from their land. In just five African countries, 1.1m hectares have already been given over to biofuels – an area the size of Belgium. Just recently in Kenya, we have been working with people that are in danger of losing their land to a giant biofuel plantation, which once completed will result in up to six times more carbon emissions than fossil fuels.

UK and EU biofuel targets must be scrapped. Instead, the government should be prioritising genuine ways of reducing our reliance on fossil fuels by supporting non-biofuel renewable energy in transport, including electric vehicles, investing in public transport and improving the fuel efficiency of cars. These options should not entail major changes to peoples’ lifestyles and will be of huge benefit to the world’s poor and hungry.

Join ActionAid’s campaign and call on the Department for Transport to scrap the UK’s biofuel targets.

28 Responses to “ActionAid: UK biofuels targets do more harm than good”

  1. Jonathan Tench

    RT @leftfootfwd: ActionAid: UK biofuels targets do more harm than good: //bit.ly/ek5eah writes @jonnytench

  2. Jonathan Tench

    RT @leftfootfwd: ActionAid: UK biofuels targets do more harm than good //bit.ly/eCwmbE writes @jonnytench

  3. Chris Jordan

    Top blogging @leftfootfwd on the bonkers UK biofuel targets by @jonnytench //bit.ly/eCwmbE

  4. Oxford Kevin

    RT @leftfootfwd: ActionAid: UK biofuels targets do more harm than good //bit.ly/eCwmbE

  5. Young Greens

    RT @oxkev: RT @leftfootfwd: ActionAid: UK biofuels targets do more harm than good //bit.ly/eCwmbE

  6. Tarek Mouganie

    RT @jonnytench: RT @leftfootfwd: ActionAid: UK biofuels targets do more harm than good //bit.ly/eCwmbE writes @jonnytench

  7. aggy hall

    RT @jonnytench: RT @leftfootfwd: ActionAid: UK biofuels targets do more harm than good //bit.ly/eCwmbE writes @jonnytench

  8. ActionAid UK

    RT @jonnytench: RT @leftfootfwd: ActionAid: UK biofuels targets do more harm than good //bit.ly/eCwmbE writes @jonnytench

  9. ActionAid Liz

    RT @jonnytench: RT @leftfootfwd: ActionAid: UK biofuels targets do more harm than good //bit.ly/eCwmbE writes @jonnytench

  10. UoL Activista

    RT @jonnytench: RT @leftfootfwd: ActionAid: UK biofuels targets do more harm than good //bit.ly/eCwmbE writes @jonnytench

  11. Joe Barrell

    RT @leftfootfwd: ActionAid: UK biofuels targets do more harm than good: //bit.ly/ek5eah writes @jonnytench

  12. Northern worker

    Totally agree. In fact all this climate change stuff should be scrapped. We’re all working our backsides off to line the pockets of a bunch of wealthy people with windmills and solar panels – subsidies hidden in our energy bills.

  13. ActionAid EU

    @ActionAid: UK #biofuels targets do more harm than good @jonnytench @leftfootfwd //tinyurl.com/6872emn

  14. Matthew Catterall

    RT @ActionAidEU: @ActionAid: UK #biofuels targets do more harm than good @jonnytench @leftfootfwd //tinyurl.com/6872emn

  15. Friends of the Earth

    RT @ActionAidEU: @ActionAid: #biofuels targets do more harm than good @jonnytench @leftfootfwd //tinyurl.com/6872emn <<well said ^RB

  16. jane_moyo

    RT @leftfootfwd: ActionAid: UK biofuels targets do more harm than good: //bit.ly/ek5eah writes @jonnytench

  17. Meredith Alexander

    @jonnytench on why we need to stop the UK #biofuel target //tinyurl.com/6872emn You can take action too //tinyurl.com/6cy3sr5

  18. Jenny Ricks

    RT @leftfootfwd: ActionAid: UK biofuels targets do more harm than good //bit.ly/eCwmbE writes @jonnytench

  19. moodindi

    RT @jenny_ricks: RT @leftfootfwd: ActionAid: UK biofuels targets do more harm than good //bit.ly/eCwmbE writes @jonnytench

  20. Rowena Harding

    RT @jenny_ricks: RT @leftfootfwd: ActionAid: UK biofuels targets do more harm than good //bit.ly/eCwmbE writes @jonnytench

  21. Emma Scullion

    RT @leftfootfwd: ActionAid: UK biofuels targets do more harm than good //bit.ly/eCwmbE

  22. ActionAid

    RT @mjwalexander: @jonnytench on why we need to stop the UK #biofuel target //tinyurl.com/6872emn You can take action too //ti

  23. Jeanine Cooper

    RT @jonnytench: RT @leftfootfwd: ActionAid: UK biofuels targets do more harm than good //bit.ly/eCwmbE writes @jonnytench

  24. James Blair

    This was even covered in the Daily Mail RT @leftfootfwd: UK biofuels targets do more harm than good //bit.ly/eCwmbE

  25. Beaurocrat

    Where is the facts????? This is just another ideological, quasi-dogmatic rant from ActionAid, one of the mainy Big Green, Corporate NGOs. It is clear that Mr. Tench is not an expert on biofuels, displaying such a clear lack on understanding of the wider food economy, the energy sector and biofuels in particular. This article article only includes two FACTS: 1/ that the Department for Transport is currently consulting over the UK’s use of biofuels, and 2/that the World Bank says food prices have tipped an extra 44 million people into hunger since last summer. These are facts. The rest is just neo-colonialist rhetoric, dressed up as factual knowledge and foney concern for Africa. If ActionAid were really concerned about Africa, maybe they should focus there attention on the oil problems there, in places like Nigeria. But they won’t. Why? Because they know they can not win against Big Oil, and biofuels are an easy target.

  26. Matt G

    Beaurocrat: This is a blog not a court of law, Mr tench does not need to flood us with facts he is simply giving his view. I also note that you did not offer any ‘facts’ of your own.

    Mr Tench: keep blogging if you can change just one out and out capatalist (of which I am one) then it will be worth it

  27. Clare Wenner

    I have been able to open all the links in this piece EXCEPT the one to “recent research” on the greenhouse gas effects of biofuels”. The World Bank link tells me that the rise in food prices across the range of commodities is weather-related. Jonathan Tench implies that 44 million people have been tipped into poverty by biofuels – clearly NOT true. Has the link on recent research on greenhouse gas effects been erased because the comment that UK COULD be adding to greenhouse gas emissions is also NOT true? A pity as this degrades the work the valuable work that Action Aid does in combating hunger.

  28. Jonathan Tench

    Hi, here’s the link to the recent research conducted by a group of european NGOs //www.actionaid.org/micrositeAssets/eu/assets/driving%20to%20destruction%20-%20the%20impacts%20of%20europe%27s%20biofuels%20plans%20on%20carbon%20emissions%20and%20land.pdf

    The World Bank report links the correlation between biofuels production and food prices.

    Just recently, World Bank president, Robert Zoellick has called for biofuels laws to be relaxed due to their contribution to the current food price crisis see here
    //www.theaustralian.com.au/business/markets/relax-biofuels-laws-to-help-ease-the-food-crisis-world-bank-says/story-e6frg926-1226039574246

Leave a Reply