Foreign Policy Blogs

More on Biofuels

The influential Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) "brings together the governments of countries committed to democracy and the market economy from around the world to support sustainable economic growth, boost employment, raise living standards" and other worthy pursuits.  An "FT" headline from early this week proclaimed:  OECD warns against biofuels subsidies.  The OECD's recent damning report echoes earlier concerns expressed in a study they did along with the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).  Growing bio-fuel demand underpinning higher agriculture prices reads the headline from the press release from April.  (I last wrote about this a few weeks ago under Biofuels , Boon or Bane?)

One of the problems here is that there is a huge amount of money and energy going into producing biofuels from food crops.  The "FT" articles says:  "The study estimates the US alone spends $7bn (€5bn) a year helping make ethanol, with each tonne of carbon dioxide avoided costing more than $500. In the EU, it can be almost 10 times that."  Here's a very interesting chart from Vattenfall that shows that biodiesel production falls into the range of the most expensive GHG-reducing tactics.  


Also, here's an instructive short video from the OECD.

Meanwhile, in a wonderfully hopeful story from the "NY Times" , Mali's Farmers Discover a Weed's Potential Power , we learn the potential of jatropha as a biofuel crop that will produce fuel, save money, and increase agricultural productivity for food crops.  Hard to beat.  And in an article from the "FT" we also learn that the developing world has an interest:  Biofuel crops to transform landscape.  The landscape in question is Britain's and "The government's Rural Economy and Land Use (RELU) programme estimates that 15-20 per cent of Britain's agricultural land may have to be devoted to growing biofuels to meet international obligations to reduce carbon emissions and improve energy security."



Bill Hewitt

Bill Hewitt has been an environmental activist and professional for nearly 25 years. He was deeply involved in the battle to curtail acid rain, and was also a Sierra Club leader in New York City. He spent 11 years in public affairs for the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation, and worked on environmental issues for two NYC mayoral campaigns and a presidential campaign. He is a writer and editor and is the principal of Hewitt Communications. He has an M.S. in international affairs, has taught political science at Pace University, and has graduate and continuing education classes on climate change, sustainability, and energy and the environment at The Center for Global Affairs at NYU. His book, "A Newer World - Politics, Money, Technology, and What’s Really Being Done to Solve the Climate Crisis," will be out from the University Press of New England in December.

Areas of Focus:
the policy, politics, science and economics of environmental protection, sustainability, energy and climate change