Environment Forum

from Global News Journal:

Biofuels’ green credentials called into question

Biofuels were once seen as the perfect way to make transport carbon-free, but a series of EU studies are throwing increasing doubt on the green credentials of the alternative fuel.

The latest to be released gave a preliminary assessment that biodiesel from soybeans could create four times more climate-warming emissions than conventional diesel.

The European Commission has not helped itself by keeping many of the studies hidden -- the most recent being an annex cut from a published report that was only released after Reuters and several NGOs used transparency laws to gain access.

Two other studies and leaked emails have added to the dossier of worrying evidence.

At the heart of the debate is an issue drily referred to as "indirect land use change". In short, that means that biofuels use land and soak up grain supplies, sending reverberations through world commodity markets.

Ban gasoline-powered cars from 2015?

Norway’s finance minister wants to ban sales of new gasoline-powered cars from 2015.From then, Kristin Halvorsen (pictured left, in red jacket) says that new cars should be powered by alternative fuels such as electricity, biofuels or hydrogen or at least be hybrids, for instance able to use both gasoline and electricity.I went and spoke to her at the weekend about her proposal (for a story click here) — she reckons that it’s realistic even though it has little chance of becoming law even in a Nordic country that says it is a leader in fighting global warming. She says she’s the only finance minister in the world arguing for such a ban.She says people have grown too fond of cars powered by fossil fuels - treating them “like a member of the family” – and need tougher action to slow climate change.But her Socialist Left Party is only a junior partner in the three-party cabinet and Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg does not support her party’s proposal. And some opposition parties accuse her of “climate populism” – latching onto public concern about global warming ahead of elections due in September.So is the ban a good idea?

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