April 2008

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This page includes information on news and events in April 2008. (News and events are archived here at the end of the month.)

Events

News

  • Biofuel Rule Will Do More Harm Than Good, Oxfam Says, 15 April 2008 by Bloomberg: "U.K. fuels for cars and trucks must contain biofuels starting today, a move that may do more harm than good to the environment and drive food prices higher, charities including Oxfam and Greenpeace said."
    • "'The sorts of problems that biofuels are causing are irreversible,' Robert Bailey, policy adviser to the development charity Oxfam, said in a telephone interview. 'If rainforest gets chopped down, it's gone forever. If somebody loses access to food, they become malnourished, their physical and mental development is impaired and they may die.'"
    • "According to Oxford-based Oxfam, the U.K. policy will cost taxpayers 500 million pounds ($1 billion) a year, and may lead to 60 million people being forced from their land to make way for biofuel plantations. About 30 percent of recent food price inflation can be attributed to biofuel production, the group said, citing the International Food Policy Research Institute."[1]
  • The World Food Crisis, 10 April 2008, editorial by the New York Times: "Last year, the food import bill of developing countries rose by 25 percent as food prices rose to levels not seen in a generation....The increases are already sparking unrest from Haiti to Egypt....The rise in food prices is partly because of uncontrollable forces — including rising energy costs and the growth of the middle class in China and India....But the rich world is exacerbating these effects by supporting the production of biofuels."
    • "The International Monetary Fund estimates that corn ethanol production in the United States accounted for at least half the rise in world corn demand in each of the past three years."
    • "At best, corn ethanol delivers only a small reduction in greenhouse gases compared with gasoline. And it could make things far worse if it leads to more farming in forests and grasslands. Rising food prices provide an urgent argument to nix ethanol’s supports."[3]
  • 'Splash and dash' hits UK biofuels firm, 9 April 2008 by the Guardian: "The enormous damage being done by "splash and dash" imports of American biodiesel were highlighted today when one of the UK's leading operators, D1 Oils, said it was closing down all its refining operations in Britain after running up a £46m loss annual loss."
    • "Splash and dash is where biodiesel is carried to the US by ship - sometimes from Europe - purely to add a drop of ordinary diesel and take advantage of public money" for refining.[4]
  • Water for Fuel, by the WBCSD. "As demand for biofuels increases, industry will face additional questions: How can the water be equitably shared? Is biofuel a practical energy solution? What are the options? These questions and others at the water and energy nexus will be the focus of a new WBCSD water and energy workstream of the Council’s Water Project."
  • German minister stops biofuel blending plans, 4 April 2008, by Reuters: "German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Friday he had stopped government plans to raise compulsory bioethanol blending levels in fossil gasoline."
    • "Politicians and industry groups had criticized the plans to raise the level to 10 percent for some gasoline grades from five percent, fearing the increase would damage older cars."
    • "German biofuels industry association VDB welcomed the decision. It had argued that the bioethanol used for blending in Germany was imported largely from third world countries where deforestation may have taken place to expand farmland."
    • "Germany had viewed biofuels blending as a way of achieving reductions in greenhouse gases without imposing restrictions suggested by the European Union which could hit its high performance car industry".[6]
  • Food prices to rise for years, biofuel firms say, 3 April 2008, by Reuters: "Staple food prices will rise for some years, but should eventually fall to historical averages as harvests increase, biofuel company executives said on Thursday."
    • Victor Deike of Novus Europe said that second-generation biofuels -- (those made from non-food crops such as jatropha, miscanthus or reed canary grass) "should take the heat out of food prices as many did not compete with food for land."
    • "Jean-Marc Jossart, secretary-general of the Belgium-based European Biomass Association (AEBIOM), said opinion was divided over whether second-generation biofuels could take the pressure off food prices....[since] crops such as miscanthus could also reduce the availability of land that could be used for food."[7]



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