Biofuels – for or against?

Ealing Friends of the Earth are hosting a meeting on the important topic of Bio-fuels on Wednesday 16 April, 7.45pm in the Rock Room of the crypt of St. John’s Church, Mattock Lane, W13 9LA.

Bio-fuels are fuels derived from agricultural products, and are used to replace fossil fuels in some applications. They sound like a good idea: instead of mining or pumping fossil fuels from the ground, and releasing their CO2 into the atmosphere, grow the fuel instead, which will then be (more-or-less) carbon neutral… Unfortunately, as is usually the case, it’s not quite as simple as that!

So-called “first generation” bio-fuels were derived from crops such as palm-oil, the plantations of which are blamed for massive de-forestation in Indonesia, and corn-oil, which resulted in price spikes and hunger in South America (although speculation on the futures market was also responsible).

The promised “second generation” of bio-fuels are supposed to be smarter than this, using non-food crops, farm waste, and even farmed algae; but is this the whole story? Why is the UK importing wood from abroad to co-fire in old, inefficient coal-fired power stations? What impact is this having on the eco-systems where this fuel is coming from? Is it really any better than “first generation” fuels, or worthy of the attributes “renewable” and “sustainable”?

Some of these questions may be answered next Wednesday, in this film and talk session, with Duncan Law from BioFuel Watch.

(I’m reliably advised that refreshments will be available!)

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