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Current biofuels policies are unethical, says report
Date:4/12/2011

Current UK and European policies on biofuels encourage unethical practices, says a report by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics today following an 18-month inquiry. Policies such as the European Renewable Energy Directive are particularly weak when it comes to protecting the environment, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and avoiding human rights violations in developing countries. They also include few incentives for the development of new biofuel technologies that could help avoid these problems.

"Biofuels are one of the only renewable alternatives we have for transport fuels such as petrol and diesel, but current policies and targets that encourage their uptake have backfired badly," said Professor Joyce Tait, who led the inquiry. "The rapid expansion of biofuels production in the developing world has led to problems such as deforestation and the displacement of indigenous people. We want a more sophisticated strategy that considers the wider consequences of biofuel production."

"Researchers are developing new types of biofuels that need less land, produce fewer greenhouse gases and do not compete with food, but commercial-scale production is many years away," said Professor Ottoline Leyser, one of the authors of the report. "The government should do more to encourage research into these more ethical types of biofuels."

In its report 'Biofuels: ethical issues', the Nuffield Council recommends that there should be a set of overarching ethical conditions for all biofuels produced in and imported into Europe, including:

  1. Biofuels development should not be at the expense of human rights
  2. Biofuels should be environmentally sustainable
  3. Biofuels should contribute to a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions
  4. Biofuels should adhere to fair trade principles
  5. Costs and benefits of biofuels should be distributed in an equitable way

"These ethical conditions should be enforced through a c
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Contact: Catherine Joynson
cjoynson@nuffieldbioethics.org
44-020-768-19619
Nuffield Council on Bioethics
Source:Eurekalert

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