The demand for biofuels is driving the destruction of forests and the emission of greenhouse gasses.
Origin of greenhouse gasses:
- Deforestation 25%
- Transport and industry 14%
- Aviation 3%
Most people think of forests only in terms of the CO2 they absorb. The rainforests of the Amazon, the Congo basin and Indonesia are thought of as the lungs of the planet. But the destruction of those forests will in the next four years alone, in the words of Sir Nicholas Stern, pump more CO2 into the atmosphere than every flight in the history of aviation to at least 2025.
Indonesia became the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world last week. Following close behind is Brazil. Neither nation has heavy industry on a comparable scale with the EU, India or Russia and yet they comfortably outstrip all other countries, except the United States and China.
What both countries do have in common is tropical forest that is being cut and burned with staggering swiftness. Smoke stacks visible from space climb into the sky above both countries, while satellite images capture similar destruction from the Congo basin, across the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and the Republic of Congo.
If CO2 offsets make sense in aviation (a rather large “if”), then people who use biofuels in their cars should buy offsets to make up for the CO2 emission caused by the deforestation taking place when biofuel plantations are established. But this is absurd.
A sensible first step would be to get rid of all subsidies for biofuels. Why should EU taxpayers, for example, subsidize palm oil plantations, rainforest destruction, and greenhouse gas emissions in Indonesia and Malaysia?