(Hat tip: Andrew Stuttaford)
At last, some refreshing signs of intelligent thinking on climate change are coming out of Whitehall. The Environment minister, Elliot Morley, reveals today in an interview with this newspaper that the Government is drawing up plans to impose a “biofuel obligation” on oil companies. This would require major firms such as BP and Shell to blend a fixed proportion of biofuels with the petrol and diesel they sell on Britain’s garage forecourts. This has the potential to be the biggest green innovation in the British petrol market since the introduction of unleaded petrol a decade and a half ago. The beauty of biofuels – petrol made from sugar beet and diesel made from oilseed rape – is that they are “carbon neutral”. The quantity of C02 they produce when burnt has already been absorbed by the crops used to make them. There is no reason why a biofuel quota should not work.
Well. No mincing of words there. Three years later it would seem that they’ve changed their tune:
The production of biofuel is devastating huge swathes of the world’s environment. So why on earth is the Government forcing us to use more of it?
From today, all petrol and diesel sold on forecourts must contain at least 2.5 per cent biofuel. The Government insists its flagship environmental policy will make Britain’s 33 million vehicles greener. But a formidable coalition of campaigners is warning that, far from helping to reverse climate change, the UK’s biofuel revolution will speed up global warming and the loss of vital habitat worldwide.
Amid growing evidence that massive investment in biofuels by developed countries is helping to cause a food crisis for the world’s poor, the ecological cost of the push to produce billions of litres of petrol and diesel from plant sources will be highlighted today with protests across the country and growing political pressure to impose guarantees that the new technology reduces carbon emissions.
Hey, eco-twits over at The Independent: Be careful what you wish for. You just may get it.