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New study suggests EU biofuels are as carbon intensive as petrol
Date:11/4/2011

er the EU Renewable Energy Directive which assesses emissions over 20 years, the corresponding emissions rate would be 106 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per hectare per year.

The findings have been published as an International White Paper from the ICCT.

Ross Morrison, of the University of Leicester Department of Geography, said: "Although the climate change impacts of palm oil production on tropical peatland are becoming more widely recognised, this research shows that estimates of emissions have been drawn from a very limited number of scientific studies, most of which have underestimated the actual scale of emissions from oil palm. These results show that biofuels causing any significant expansion of palm on tropical peat will actually increase emissions relative to petroleum fuels. When produced in this way, biofuels do not represent a sustainable fuel source".

Dr Sue Page, Reader in Physical Geography at the University of Leicester, added: "Tropical peatlands in Southeast Asia are a globally important store of soil carbon exceeding the amount stored in tropical forest vegetation. They are under enormous pressure from plantation development. Projections indicate an increase in oil palm plantations on peat to a total area of 2.5Mha by the year 2020 in western Indonesia alone an area equivalent in size to the land area of the United Kingdom."

Growth in palm oil production has been a key component of meeting growing global demand for biodiesel over recent decades. This growth has been accompanied by mounting concern over the impact of the oil palm business on tropical forests and carbon dense peat swamp forests in particular. Tropical peatland is one of Earth's largest and most efficient carbon sinks. Development of tropical peatland for agriculture and plantations removes the carbon sink capacity of the peatland system with large carbon losses arising particularly from enhanced peat degradation and the loss
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Contact: Dr. Susan Page
sep5@le.ac.uk
44-116-252-3318
University of Leicester
Source:Eurekalert  

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