Next year, the use of US corn for ethanol is forecast to rise to 114 million tonnes - nearly a third of the whole projected US crop. American cars now burn enough corn to cover all the import needs of the 82 nations classed by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) as "low-income food-deficit countries". There could scarcely be a better way to starve the poor.Bottom Line: Governments should not choose winners. Governments should set a carbon tax and let markets and competition produce the winners.
[why? to meet "tough" obligations without pain:]
The EU, meanwhile, persists in the erroneous belief that biofuels can help reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. The main reason for its speedy introduction of the replacement fuel initiative was as a sop to motor manufacturers who were lobbying hard against proposed higher fuel economy standards. With biofuels, the EU hoped, it could cave in to the car industry while still getting reduction in emissions.
[and it's not even for a good cause:]
two major studies published in Science magazine in February showed clearly that once the agricultural displacement effects of the new fuels on rainforests, peatlands and grasslands are taken into account, emissions are many times worse than from conventional mineral petrol. In other words, it would be better for the climate if we just went back to fossil fuels. Biofuels are not a "necessary but painful" way of saving the climate; they are a calamitous mistake by almost every criterion, whether social, ethical or environmental.
24 April 2008
Food prices are up, and people are upset. "Experts" quoted in the NYT seem to think there are "few quick fixes" to the food shortage. How about canceling the ridiculous biofuels/ethanol programs in Europe and the US? As Mark Lynas points out: