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Renewable fuel could be more dangerous than fossil carbon emissions

By Vision Reporter

Added 22nd March 2011 03:00 AM

KENYA - A biofuel currently considered a green, renewable alternative to oil could cause up to six times more carbon emissions than fossil fuels, a study by the RSPB, ActionAid and Nature Kenya has revealed.

KENYA - A biofuel currently considered a green, renewable alternative to oil could cause up to six times more carbon emissions than fossil fuels, a study by the RSPB, ActionAid and Nature Kenya has revealed.

KENYA - A biofuel currently considered a green, renewable alternative to oil could cause up to six times more carbon emissions than fossil fuels, a study by the RSPB, ActionAid and Nature Kenya has revealed.

The report comes as petroleum prices once again climb above $100 a barrel, pushing the demand for biofuel sky high.

The study analysed whether biofuels made from jatropha grown at a proposed plantation in the Dakatcha Woodlands in Kenya would save emissions when compared to fossil fuels.

Taking into account the emissions produced throughout the production and consumption process, the study found that jatropha would emit between 2.5 and 6 times more greenhouse gases, depending on how the land was used before the jatropha was planted.

Tim Rice, ActionAid’s biofuels expert, said:

“Biofuels are far from the miracle climate cure they were thought to be. Like most other biofuels, jatropha could actually end up increasing carbon emissions. Crucially the Dakatcha case also shows how biofuel plantations can rob entire communities of their land, homes and jobs.”

Dr Helen Byron, RSPB’s Senior International Site Casework Officer, said:

“This study shows that not only would destroying Dakatcha for biofuels be an ecological disaster, it would be a climate disaster too. We found that emissions from these biofuels would be up to six times higher than fossil fuels.”

Byron added that the proposed biofuel plantation would devastate the woodlands, driving the globally threatened Clarke’s weaver bird to extinction and deprive thousands of local people of their livelihoods.

“This project must not be allowed to go ahead. It is just one example of the impact of subsidising biofuels in the UK and across Europe, we are already starting to see many others. The UK’s generous subsidies for biofuels must be scrapped, otherwise the UK will be creating biofuel disasters like Dakatcha across the world,” Byron said.

Much of the biofuel produced in Dakatcha is destined for Europe because of new European Union targets.

The Renewable Energy Directive (RED) requires 10% of transport to be renewable by 2020 and most member states plan to meet this almost entirely through biofuels - which is likely to result in a doubling of biofuel use in Europe by 2020.

The RED states that biofuels used in the EU must save at least 35% greenhouse gas emissions when compared to fossil fuels. Yet as the study shows, jatropha would be in direct breach of the RED.

How jatropha in Dakatcha will produce more carbon than fossil fuels?
Taking into account the emissions produced throughout the production and consumption process, the study found that jatropha would emit between 2.5 and 6 times more greenhouse gases, depending on how the land was used before the jatropha was planted.

The main reason is that the forest, which stores massive amounts of carbon in its vegetation and soil, will have to be cleared to make way for the plantation.

What is happening in Dakatcha?
The wildlife rich Dakatcha area is one of the last tracts of coastal forest in Kenya.

The land is covered in forest which stores massive amounts of carbon in its vegetation and soil and this will have to be cleared to make way for the plantation.


Renewable fuel could be more dangerous than fossil carbon emissions

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