Gallagher Review

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Bioenergy > Policies > United Kingdom > Gallagher Review (2008)

The "Gallagher Review" (official title, "The Gallagher Review of the indirect effects of biofuels production" (Link to report (PDF file)), was a report commissioned by the government of the United Kingdom in 2008, in response to growing concerns about the ecological impacts of biofuels. The review, conducted by the UK Renewable Fuels Agency (RFA), and chaired by RFA Chair Professor Ed Gallagher, was released on 7 July 2008.

  • According to the RFA, the review was conducted: "in the light of new evidence suggesting that an increasing demand for biofuels might indirectly cause carbon emissions because of land use change, and concerns that demand for biofuels may be driving food insecurity by causing food commodity price increases." [1]


The review, based on extensive input from international experts and stakeholders, called "for biofuels use to slow down."

According to the RFA Press Release, the "key conclusions of the Gallagher review are as follows:

1. The introduction of biofuels should be slowed until effective controls are in place to prevent land use change and higher food prices.
2. There is a future for a sustainable biofuels industry but creating the policy right [sic] framework is challenging and will take time.
3. Current policies, if left unchecked, will reduce biodiversity and may even cause greenhouse gas emissions rather than savings. More caution and discrimination are needed in the feedstock used to produce biofuels.
4. Increasing demand for biofuels contributes to rising prices for some food commodities, notably oil seeds, that has a detrimental effect on the poor.
5. Biofuels production must target idle and marginal land, and the use of wastes and residues. This will avoid indirect land use change and reduce competition with food.
6. Specific incentives are needed to encourage advanced technologies that utilise feedstock grown on idle and marginal land."[2]


The Gallagher Review recommended that "as part of the path to sustainable biofuels"

  • "the rate of increase of the UK's biofuels target should be reduced to 0.5% per annum. Targets beyond 5% by volume should only be implemented beyond 2013/14 if biofuels are shown to be demonstrably sustainable, including avoiding indirect land-use change. These higher targets should include a specific obligation on companies to use advanced technologies."[3]


  • Biofuels ad banned by ASA after George Monbiot complaint, 14 January 2009 by The Guardian (United Kingdom): "A complaint to the advertising watchdog by Guardian columnist and environmental campaigner George Monbiot has caused a national press ad claiming biofuels offer a sustainable alternative to oil to be banned."
    • "Monbiot, who has previously argued against the idea of sustainable biofuels in the Guardian, lodged a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority that the RFA claim in the press campaign was misleading."
    • "The ASA...said that the Gallagher review, commissioned in the UK by the secretary of state for transport, concluded that only with strict policies on where biofuel production could be allowed would it be viable after 2020. Without such strict policies, biofuel production would 'result in net greenhouse emissions and loss of biodiversity through habitat destruction'."
    • "The watchdog concluded that 'at the present time' references to biofuels in general as sustainable were likely to mislead and banned the ad for breaking the advertising code."[4]
  • UK to slow expansion of biofuels, 7 July 2008 by BBC: "The UK is to slow its adoption of biofuels amid fears they raise food prices and harm the environment, the transport secretary [Ruth Kelly] has said.
    • "Lib Dem transport spokesman Norman Baker said Ms Kelly's statement had not gone 'far enough', adding: 'It has done nothing to close the loopholes which support unsustainable and inefficient US corn-based ethanol.'
    • "Prof Gallagher said the figures did not take into account the impact of climate change on poor people if biofuels were not introduced, or the help they could provide to rural economies or the fluctuating oil price."[5]

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