From: George Monbiot, The Guardian
Published March 5, 2009 08:05 AM

Biofuels do far more harm than good

Yesterday the EU imposed temporary tariffs on US biodiesel because subsidies over there distort trade - but that shouldn't be the only reason to stop the biofuels juggernaut

Is there any trade crazier than the liquid biofuel business? Apart from a handful of cars and vans running on used chip fat, it exists only because of government rules and subsidies. So what social benefits do these buy?


Biofuels are supposed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They do the opposite. Almost all of them produce more greenhouse gases than petrol (gasoline) or diesel, for two reasons:

• emissions of nitrous oxide (a very powerful greenhouse gas) caused by the application of nitrogen fertilisers

• the destruction of grassland, wetland and forest caused by the expansion of agriculture stimulated by this new market (see this study on the biofuel carbon debt and this one on biofuels increasing greenhouse gases 

Biofuels - especially biodiesel made from palm oil - also cause other kinds of environmental havoc. They are now among the major drivers of deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia, wrecking tens of millions of hectares of primary forest and driving orang-utans and other wildlife towards extinction

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