Biofuels: false hope

Rainforests are rapidly being cut down. This is partly because the production of palm oil, a major biofuel additive, requires a lot of land. Biofuels may sound like a good solution , but, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Did you know that palm oil-based biofuels cause three times as much pollution as plain diesel? This trend must be stopped.

Biofuels were introduced as a way to combat air pollution. Although sustainable biofuels do exist, these are not the ones we put into our cars.

Some of the major biofuels are also called agrofuels because they are made from food crops, which require a lot of land. This, in turn, requires the destruction of rainforests, making the remedy worse than the disease. Because not only do people and animals lose their habitats, but the extra CO2 produced by the disappearance of the rainforests accelerates global warming.

This is what happens:

  • Less trees mean that CO2 can no longer be adequately absorbed.
  • Clear-cutting releases a lot of CO2 from the forest floor into the air.
  • Even more CO2 is released when the trees are burned.
  • The lungs of the earth are being destroyed.

This short virtual reality film allows you to experience both the beauty of the rainforest and the dangers that forests and their inhabitants face.

A great deal of palm oil is currently being added to diesel fuel in Europe. This trend will only continue to increase, unless we do something about it now. In 2018, the European Union will decide on the future of biofuels. Milieudefensie campaigned on this issue in 2016 and 2017 and succeeded in influencing the Dutch government’s position.

In December 2017, the government announced that it was lobbying against biofuel additives such as palm oil and soybeans in Europe. But we are not totally satisfied: the Netherlands should also oppose other biofuels made from sources like corn, grains and sugar cane. Milieudefensie will continue to oppose the use of ‘food fuels’ in Europe.

Food fuels in the aviation industry

Biofuels made from food crops are becoming less attractive in general – as they should! But be aware: palm oil is increasingly being added to aviation fuel. In fact, biokerosene has often been called a sustainable alternative to regular kerosene. But, just as with cars, using biofuels in aircraft is not a satisfactory solution.

Aeroplanes are major polluters. This cannot be offset by converting to agrofuels. In fact, this only further increases the problems because many forests need to be cut down to make way for palm oil plantations in order to supply aeroplanes with biofuels. Milieudefensie opposes this option. We, together with our our international partners, will continue to oppose  the use of palm oil and other food crops in biofuels.

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