image: biofuels protest outside Downing St., attended by The Coffee House earlier this year.
Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said: “To tackle climate change we will need to develop new, cleaner fuels – but that doesn’t mean pushing forward indiscriminately on biofuels that may do more harm than good.”
The UK is to slow its adoption of biofuels amid fears they raise food prices and harm the environment, the transport secretary has said. Ruth Kelly said biofuels had potential to cut carbon emissions but there were “increasing questions” about them. “Uncontrolled” growing of fuel crops could destroy rainforest, she told MPs.
Ms Kelly’s statement comes as the European Parliament is about to vote on whether to scrap the EU’s target of sourcing 10% of transport fuel from biofuels by 2020.
World Bank president Robert Zoellick has also called for reform in rich countries, urging them to grow more food instead.
A panel of government experts, chaired by Professor Ed Gallagher, head of the Renewable Fuels Agency, has looked at the impact of energy policy on land use. Its report calls for biofuels to be introduced more slowly than planned until controls are in place to prevent higher food prices and land being switched from forests or agriculture.
His review says biofuel production should be focused on idle and marginal land and the use of so-called second generation biofuels. These use waste parts of plants for energy to avoid land use change and reduce competition with food production.