The Global View

Biofuels: what’s the real carbon cost?

filed1.jpgYou know when you’re out down Tescos and something’s on buy one get one free, so buy three of them because you think you’re saving money but you didn’t really need it and you’ve actually spent twice as much as you meant to?

Well, apparently, biofuels are a bit like that, according to some new scientific research out in Science. A bit like that in the sense that the true cost of biofuels isn’t being taken into account not because there’s 33 percent extra free.

Apparently, biofuels are often touted as better because they release less carbon than those they absorb, but that’s only half the story – the carbon generated by their transport and so on isn’t being added up alongside for the full picture.

Says The Seattle Times:

Together the two studies offer sweeping conclusions: It does not matter if it is rain forest or scrubland that is cleared, the greenhouse-gas contribution is significant. More important, they discovered that, globally, the production of almost all biofuels resulted — directly or indirectly, intentionally or not — in new lands being cleared for food or fuel.

“When you take this into account, most of the biofuel that people are using or planning to use would probably increase greenhouse gases substantially,” said Timothy Searchinger, lead author of one of the studies and a researcher in environment and economics at Princeton University.