Biofuels Do Far More Harm Than Good

Yesterday the EU imposed temporary tariffs on US biodiesel because subsidies over there distort trade - but that shouldn't be the only reason to stop the biofuels juggernaut

Is there any trade crazier than the liquid biofuel business? Apart from
a handful of cars and vans running on used chip fat, it exists only
because of government rules and subsidies. So what social benefits do
these buy?

Biofuels
are supposed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They do the opposite.
Almost all of them produce more greenhouse gases than petrol (gasoline)
or diesel, for two reasons:

Biofuels
- especially biodiesel made from palm oil - also cause other kinds of
environmental havoc. They are now among the major drivers of
deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia, wrecking tens of millions of
hectares of primary forest and driving orang-utans and other wildlife towards extinction

And
they help to starve the world. Last year, the global food crunch was
caused by a decline in the world's stockpiles of cereals: they fell by around 53m tonnes. The production of biofuels consumed almost 100m tonnes.
The extra millions who died as a result of malnutrition-related
diseases when the price of grain rose last year did so largely because
we took their food to put in our tanks.

Yet all motorists in
this country are forced by law to participate in this crime against
humanity. Why? Because, by taking into account only some of the
emissions produced by biofuels, the government can claim to be cutting
greenhouse gas production, thereby helping it to meet the legally
binding targets in its climate change act. Because it means that people
can carry on driving without constraint, this policy causes the
government no political pain. It is exchanging political convenience at
home for the lives of people overseas.

In the US the biofuel
business is stimulated by a series of massive subsidies, running into
hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Yesterday the European Union imposed temporary anti-dumping tariffs on US biodiesel on
the grounds that the subsidies there are distorting trade, unfairly
harming biodiesel producers over here. There's already plenty of aggro
being generated over the Buy American clause in the US stimulus plan:
this new decision could be explosive.

So here's what we gain from the biofuels trade:

1. Global environmental destruction
2. Higher greenhouse gas emissions
3. Mass starvation
4. The loss of hundreds of millions of dollars
5. The prospect of a new trade war.

Is there anyone out there who still thinks they are a good idea?