Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Not All Biofuels Are Created Equal

Europe, Cutting Biofuel Subsidies, Redirects Aid to Stress Greenest Options
Elisabeth Rosenthal, New York Times, January 22, 2008

There is increasing evidence that the total emissions and environmental damage from producing many “clean” biofuels outweighs their lower emissions when compared with fossil fuels. European biofuel manufacturers and sellers will now have to quantify their fuel’s net effect on the environment before being eligible for subsidies. Governments in Europe and elsewhere have begun rolling back generous subsidies for biofuels, acknowledging that the environmental benefits of some have often been overstated. Under a proposed Swiss directive, for example, a liter of biofuel would have to produce 40 percent less in emissions than fossil fuel to qualify for special treatment. It will be hard to make corn ethanol or even rapeseed (used to make canola oil) meet the standard, said Lukas Gutzwiller of Switzerland’s Federal Energy Office.

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