Apparently austerity rules the UK.
So why does the Government want us to squander billions on a failed transport policy?
New research commissioned by Friends of the Earth and ActionAi to the International Institute for Sustainable Development's Global Subsidies Initiative has revealed that by 2020, UK motorists and taxpayers could be paying an extra £2 billion for petrol and diesel every year - if the UK chooses to meet its share of an EU 2020 renewable energy in transport target entirely through biofuels.
The research, which outlines different scenarios to 2020 looking at the cost of biofuel production as well as subsidies paid to farmers growing biofuel crops, also reveals that increasing the use of biofuel in transport fuels to meet the EU's target could cost £114 billion (!) across all EU Member States.
Now Friends of the Earth is all in favour of energy solutions that help the climate and the environment. But science has shown that our drive for current biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel made from crops is actually increasing net greenhouse gas emissions, rather than reducing them - as well as trashing rainforests and habitats for species like the Orang-utan. In Britain alone, biofuels could create 13 million extra tonnes of carbon emissions every year - that's equivalent to six million extra cars on our roads.
Meanwhile an expert panel of the world's biggest intergovernmental organisations - including the FAO, IMF, OCED and World Bank - has confirmed that biofuels are forcing up global food prices - hitting some of the world's most vulnerable people hardest. The organisations recommended that "G20 governments remove provisions of current national policies that subsidize or mandate biofuels production or consumption."
We're all paying for an expensive, so-called 'green' transport policy that doesn't even work. A policy that is worsening climate change and pushing people off their land in some of the poorest countries in the world. Food for thought when you fill up your tank, isn't it?
Despite all this evidence, the amount of biofuels that fuel companies are obliged to blend into petrol and diesel sold in the UK will go up from 4 per cent to 4.7 per cent in April. And the Government has announced a consultation for later in the year on whether this will be followed by an increase to 10 per cent by 2020.
£2 billion is an awful lot of money to spend on something that doesn't do its job, especially when the UK heading is for a second recession. This money would be far better spent on solutions that work - measures that actually cut emissions from transport, like cleaner cars, better public transport and safer walking and cycling. All of which cut carbon and cost far less to implement, and save us all some cash.
It's time we kicked up a fuss about it.
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