‘Biofuels are likely to make an important contribution to a reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions. ‘ Evaluate this statement using the evidence provided. The opinion on biofuels is largely mixed, and it is questioned how effectively they will impact on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs [DEFRA] (2003) claim that biofuels are sustainable and renewable to a large extent, as they are made from recycled elements of the food chain and plant materials.
However, the degree of sustainability is questioned in an article by Carrington (2011) who comments about the eforestation and unethical damages to the environment, as well as other problems. This essay explores both sides of the biofuels debate, with an aim of identifying the level of contribution they can make in the reduction of global greenhouse gasses. The argument for the positive impact biofuels make can first be looked at on a national level.
In 2003, DEFRA claimed that by growing and using transport biofuels in the I-JK, carbon dioxide emissions could be cut by 50 – 60% compared to those from fossil fuels, as well as reducing the need for foreign imports, and so could lead to a eduction in greenhouse gases. This is backed up by an article which states that farmers in the I-JK see biofuels as a way of providing the nations motorists with a low carbon fuel supply (Kendall, 2006). Kendall makes clear that the demand for both fuel and food crops could be met in the I-JK, with enough arable land being readily available.
The article also highlights that the reduction in the level of carbon dioxide emissions would equate to taking one million cars off the road, if biofuels accounted for Just 5% of the fuel on forecourts. It becomes clear how reductions in greenhouse as emissions on a national level, resulting from the use of biofuels, can have a global impact when considering an article on aviation emissions by Caldecott (2012). It is predicted that by 2050, “aviation emissions will account for up to 20% of global emissions” (p. 0), and whilst reducing flying levels would not be feasible, especially when considering export opportunities with new growing economies, it is possible to reduce these emissions by replacing the currently used kerosene Jet fuels, with sustainable bio Jet fuels. Caldecott argues that over time, the I-JK could introduce the se of biofuels to the aviation industry, leading to a 60% less pollution rate, and it would not take many other countries to follow before the majority of international flights use sustainable biofuels.
This shows that whilst some of the national benefits of biofuels may not appear to be making an important contribution to the reduction of greenhouse gasses, when looked at on a global scale, the benefits together can have a big impact. The negative side to biofuels must also be accounted for, and the question arises of where and how the crops are grown, and how sustainable they actually are. There are different kinds of biofuels, with some more carbon friendly than others, and a distinction needs to be drawn between them.
This is highlighted by comparing sugar cane grown in Brazil, with 10% of the carbon footprint of traditional tuel, compared to Maize based tuels grown in America, with (Macalister, 2008) with the latter clearly not making an important contribution to the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. A study in the US Journal of Science (as cited in Macalister, 2008) states that by changing ecosystems to allow the growing of crops for use in biofuels, “between 17 and 420 times more carbon” (P. ) will be released than that saved from using them rather than fossil fuels. There are also highly unethical practises when acquiring land to grow crops used for the production of biofuels. In Malaysia for example, rainforests were destroyed and people were forced off their land and forced to work in slave like conditions (Carrington, 2011). Biofuels can also be partly accountable for the rise in food prices and consequently the increase in the number of people starving and even dyeing from hunger.
After riots in Mozambique due to a spike in food prices, Keith Richter said “riots showed that ood should not be used for fuel” (as cited in Doward, 2010, p. 17). This is a problem on a global level, due to the greater demand of food crops to be used in biofuels, the cost increases at a greater proportion than income. To sum up this argument, biofuels could clearly play an important part in the reduction of global greenhouse gases if grown in a sustainable and carbon friendly way. In the I-JK they can provide extra income for farmers, and better use of arable land.
However elsewhere in the world, more problems than benefits arise when using biofuels, and they can often ave a negative impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions due to changing natural ecosystems (Macalister, 2008), and they can have a negative impact on peoples living conditions. It should not be overlooked that there are renewable alternatives available which do not violate human rights and damage the environment (Carrington, 2011), which may play a more important role in the reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions. Word Count: 846 Reference List: Caldecott, B. (2012, May 6). Only biofuels will cut plane emissions. The Guardian, p. 0. Carrington, D. (2011, April 13). Biofuels transport targets are unethical, inquiry finds. The bbbGuardian, p. 11. Department for Environmental Food and Rural Affairs. (2003, July). The facts on biodiesel bbband bioethanol. Renewable biofuels for transport. Doward, J. (2010, September 5). Rising wheat prices raise fears over I-JK conversion to bbbbiofuels. The Observer, p. 17. Kendall, P. (2006). Biofuels Will not lead to hunger’. Retrieved from British Broadcasting bbbCorporation website: http://www. bbc. co. uk/news Macalister, T. (2008, March 25). Biofuels: a solution that became part of the problem. The bbbGuardian, p. 11.