Not-so-green machines: new research finds biofuels are as carbon intensive as petrol

Posted by fi17 at Nov 11, 2011 03:29 PM |
University study warns that biofuels are less eco-friendly than previously thought after detailed measurement of carbon dioxide emissions
Not-so-green machines: new research finds biofuels are as carbon intensive as petrol

Oil palm plantations on peat

Researchers from our Department of Geography have studied greenhouse gas emissions from oil palm plantations, and calculated that 'green' biofuels have the same carbon footprint as petrol. Increasing demand for biodiesels is leading to an increase in demand for oil palms and a growth in oil palm plantations, usually grown on tropical peatland. The researchers measured greenhouse gas emissions from peatland turned over to oil palm plantations in South East Asia, and found that carbon dioxide emissions from such areas are much higher than previously thought.

The results mean that so-called 'green' biofuels may not represent an eco-friendly choice after all. Due to the nature of their production, biodiesels lead to just as much greenhouse gas emissions as conventional petrol fuels. The findings will be used to help policy makers in Europe and elsewhere decide on the best ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

The research was commissioned by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT).