Thursday, October 25, 2007

Conservatives demand strict sustainability rules for biofuels

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In a debate in parliament this afternoon, the government is seeking to establish the first fixed targets for biofuels. The Conservatives have been calling for greater use biofuels for several years but are deeply concerned that the measure being put forward by the government today allows targets to be met using biofuels which do not come from sustainable sources.
In reply to the government proposals Julian Brazier, Shadow Minister for Transport (aviation and shipping) will say:
(check against delivery)

"Having listened to the concerns expressed to us by many of our constituents and by organisations such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and aid charities, and in the light of increasing scientific evidence of the problems biofuels can cause if they are produced in a way which is environmentally insensitive, we believe that the measure being put forward by the government today is deeply disappointing.

"If biofuels are to play a successful part in the fight against climate change, it is absolutely vital that they come from sustainable sources. Without clear and binding rules on sustainability, this proposal could damage the environment not protect it. It would be madness if UK biofuel targets actively encouraged people to rip up the rainforest. According to Friends of the Earth, unsustainable biofuels have already contributed to 87% of the deforestation of Malaysia; indeed the destruction of 98% of rainforests there and in Indonesia and the further widespread damage in Brazil are all predicted."

"Serious concerns also need to be addressed regarding the impact of large scale biofuel production on food prices. Most recently the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler earlier this month described current approaches to biofuels as: "… a total disaster for those who are starving."

"We support sustainable biofuels and believe that the government should take its proposals away and bring them back in a form which has effective safeguards against the environmental and biodiversity damage that expert evidence now tells us that some types of biofuel production can cause."

Conservatives believe that this statutory instrument, by deferring sustainability criteria until at least 2011, represents a massive missed opportunity to benefit the environment.

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