UK think tank Chatham House criticises EU fuel policy

A report from independent policy analysts Chatham House has concluded that current European policy on biofuels fails to ensure that they are produced sustainably, and means that they are not a cost-effective way to reduce carbon emissions.

The analysis takes into account emissions derived from cultivation of biofuel crops and indirect land-use changes, as well as the increased volume of biofuel needed to balance its lower energy density, which the paper says could outweigh any greenhouse gas savings biofuels might offer.

The report specifically highlights the process of making biodiesel from used cooking oil. Demand for biodiesel has pushed the price of used oil above that of virgin palm oil – production of which is strongly linked to destruction of rainforests in Indonesia. This could provide an incentive to import palm oil, use it briefly for cooking, then recycle it to biodiesel at a profit, indirectly leading to significant environmental damage through loss of biodiversity and the significant carbon sink in the original rainforest.