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Recommendations to reduce the affect of biofuels on climate change [#102]
Question 4: Solutions and recommendations to reduce negative impacts and promote benefits:

Submission to the Biofuel E-Forum of the Convention on Biological Diversity by Biofuelwatch (http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk)

General Comment:

We are concerned that the consultation questions are based on the presumption that large-scale biofuel production will mitigate global warming and bring other important benefits, and that there are likely to be solutions to the negative impacts.  There is strong evidence – which we summarise below – that the expansion of large-scale biofuel monocultures threatens to accelerate, not mitigate climate change.  We believe that there needs to be an open and genuine debate whether promoting large-scale biofuel production is desirable in the first place. 

We will concentrate in our response on the impacts of biofuel production on climate change, however, we are also deeply concerned about other impacts on biodiversity, food security, human and land rights, water supplies, and soil, air and water pollution. 

Both deforestation and accelerated climate change would have serious impacts on biodiversity, causing large-scale extinctions, hence this debate is extremely important within the context of the Convention on Biological Diversity. 


Submission on Question 4:

It is essential that a full risk analysis is done, before one can even discuss measures to ‘reduce negative impacts’.

There is a proven link between monoculture expansion and deforestation, and we know that further deforestation can result in non-linear feedbacks which would be impossible to stop and which could, in the worst case, push global warming beyond human control and devastate agriculture and the lives of hundreds of millions of people.  As we have said, those are not risks which we can afford to take.

Those are not simply ‘negative impacts’ which can be reduced – they are not comparable to limited pollution over a small area, for example, which could be mitigated. 

There are several proposals for certification, though it is not clear how they would be enforced, and there is no agreement what should be included and how compliance would be audited. 

None of those proposals, however, deal with the macro impacts of biofuel production, as mentioned above: The impacts of deforestation will be the same whether biofuels are grown directly at the expense of primary forests, or whether they displace other types of agriculture into those forests.  There is an established link between commodity prices and deforestation rates, and there are no credible proposals as to how this link can be broken.  Nor can certification make monoculture expansion sustainable or ‘climate friendly’. 

In the absence of proven safeguards which would address not just immediate impacts of biofuel production, but the wider macros/displacement impacts, too, we believe that the risks of promoting large-scale biofuel expansion based on monocultures remain unacceptably high.
(edited on 2007-03-09 10:57 UTC by Mr Ian Lander)
posted on 2007-03-09 10:51 UTC by Mr Ian Lander, Biofuelwatch
 

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme