Increasing biofuels may lead to more carbon

Published: Saturday 15 September 2007

Switching to biofuels to curb greenhouse gas emissions could be a mistake, as increasing biofuel production will release two to nine times more carbon over the next 30 years than fossil fuels, notes the first comprehensive study of biofuel emissions. The study, done by a team of UK-based scientists, criticises the EU's targets to substitute 10 per cent of its fuel with biofuels by 2020. The study, published in the journal Science, compared the efficiency of forests and biofuels in reducing oxides of carbon (COX) from the atmosphere.

When cultivated on the same area of land, forests absorb around nine times more COX than the biofuels do to curb COX emissions. Moreover, growing plants for biofuels could "lead to more deforestation as EU nations will turn to countries outside the bloc to meet their growing demand for biofuels", notes the study. "In our view this is a mistaken policy, as it is less effective than reforesting," say the scientists. They suggest the emphasis should be on increasing the efficiency of fossil fuel use and moving to carbon-free options like renewables.

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