Biofuel production ‘exacerbating’ climate change, says Christian Aid

Published 17 August 2009
|PIC1|Western governments are pouring billions of dollars into the production of biofuels with dubious benefits for the climate, warns Christian Aid.

In a new report out today, the aid agency said that the massive subsidies and quotas set by governments to finance biofuels had proved “disastrous”.

“Vast sums of European and American taxpayers’ money are being used to prop up industries which are fuelling hunger, severe human rights abuses and environmental destruction – and failing to deliver the benefits claimed for them,” said Eliot Whittington, a Christian Aid climate advocacy specialist and author of the report, ‘Growing Pains’.

The report said an urgent re-think was needed to ensure that only crops and fuels that achieve their social and environmental goals received government backing.

“Major reforms are also vital to prevent the damage already caused by biofuel plantations in Latin American and Asian countries from being repeated in Africa,” Mr Whittington added.

The report dismisses the idea that biofuels are a “silver bullet solution” to climate change and instead urges governments to see them as a force for rural development in poor countries.

The report cited the example of Mali where farmers are growing jatropha alongside millet and sorghum to supply their own energy needs.

“Christian Aid believes that the best approach to biofuels is to grow them on a small scale and process them locally to provide energy for people in the surrounding community,” said Mr Whittington.

“This can also increase rural people’s incomes and has the potential to actually increase soil fertility and moisture retention, without compromising people’s food security.”

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