Biofuels again. And world hunger.


I wrote recently about the EU’s plans for “ILUC” – that is, taking account of “Indirect Land Use Change” when assessing the emissions savings achieved by biofuels.  On June 19th, I attended a sandwich lunch organised by OxFam, where we debated the issue, and heard from the UN’s “Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food”, Olivier de Schutter.

There were serious concerns expressed about current proposals to change EU biofuel targets.  There is increasing recognition that biofuels have serious problems which were not fully taken into account when the original plans were made.  When I had a chance to make an intervention, I spoke as follows:

Thank you to the organisers for this event.  There is a delicious irony in seeing two groups of environmentalists at each other’s’ throats, as they argue the priorities of preventing climate change as against feeding the world.

But I have some news which will be welcomed by both sides.  I should like to remind colleagues that elevated levels of atmospheric CO2 have a dramatic effect in terms of increasing plant growth, and crop yields, and biomass formation.  We should all celebrate that.

May I also respond to Mr. Bas Eickhout MEP, who speaks of the need to “send clear signals to investors”.  He’s right.  But we have signally failed to do that.  Five years ago we set up incentives to reach a 10% target for biofuels, and we invited investors to come to the table.  They did so, and invested hundreds of millions of euros, for example in dedicated refining facilities for bio-diesel and ethanol.  Now we pull the rug from under them.  Energy policy and investment is bedevilled by our failure to offer regulatory certainty.

My own position is that I would not want biofuels at all, but I shall support the report of my colleague Mr. Alejo Vidal Quadras MEP  which represents a considerable improvement over the Commission proposal.

We now know very well that biofuels deliver less power, that they greatly increase cost, and that taking ILUC effects into account they often fail to deliver emissions savings, or even increase them.  In this parliament only a couple of years ago we heard a consultant’s report showing that in the UK, by converting the Drax coal-fired power station to a bio-mass plant burning wood chips from mature American forests, we were failing to reduce emissions significantly, and indeed increasing them in the medium term.

Then today we hear from Mr. Schutter about the food impact of biofuels.  If we take large acreages out of food production and use them for bio-fuels, we inevitably reduce food availability, and increase food prices.  People will starve.

I believe that we in this parliament should accept a moral responsibility to those investors who followed our policy and built bio-fuel refineries.  But we have an even greater moral obligation to the world’s hungry and poor.  It’s about time we recognised that biofuels seemed to be a good idea when we first thought of them, but in fact they’re doing more harm than good.

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10 Responses to Biofuels again. And world hunger.

  1. Eric Worrall says:

    Dear Roger, I hope you will add your voice to the campaign to stop greedy Africans from consuming our biofuels as food! 🙂

  2. I assume your contribution was not welcomed by both sides 🙂
    Nothing is more distressing to political activists seeking public money than for it to be proven that their scare story is false.

  3. 1957chev says:

    The Biofuel story, is the same as the renewable energy story, concerning wind turbines and solar panels….sounds great in theory, but when put into practice, it is nothing short of a disaster. That is what happens when you rely on the manufacturers and lobbyists for your scientific information. They slant everything in their favour, but reality straightens out their lies quickly. They are exorbitantly priced MISTAKES!!!

    • DougS says:

      I don’t believe that the lobbyist view them as mistakes – they’re money making schemes, but why worry anyway, it’s only taxpayers’ money – plenty more where that came from!

      I think that even the thickest regulation-making Eurotroughers realise that biofuels are a mistake but they can’t admit it and look foolish can they?

  4. matthu says:

    Readers of this blog may wish to also read Mark Steyn on Nigel vs the Lunatic Mainstream

  5. The trifecta of taxpayer funded, elite agenda driven Carbon LIES are climate forcing, sustainable energy and ‘peak’ oil. Carbon climate forcing is credit default swap faux science to FORCE Carbon commodity markets. ‘Sustainable’ energy NEVER recovers the investment energy to create these frauds. Ethanol requires 100,000 BTU/gallon of fertilizer, irrigation, harvest, process and delivery energy to produce 80,000 BTU/gallon of fuel. Bio-diesel input/output energy disparity is even worse. Photovoltaics produce 1.5 watts/sq ft at 1.5 volts Direct Current, for six hours per day, for less than 20 years. At that point, you have useless junk that has produced less than 20% of the energy required for photocell production. This is detailed in “Green Prince of Darkness” at Canada Free Press. The 1955 Hubbert ‘peak oil’ LIE is a Malthusian myth, as Hydrocarbons are abundant throughout the Universe. See “Fracturing the Fossil Fuel Fable” at

    Find and share Truth….demand a Modern Magna Carta.

  6. Richard111 says:

    I find it curious that countries in South America, Africa and Indonesia are encouraged to grow crops for biofuel more than crops for feeding the local populace. Meanwhile the series of late Springs and early Autumns are having a devastating effect on NH food production. Coupled with increasing energy costs subsidising ‘green energy’ this is a recipe for a monumental global disaster.

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