UK parliament urges more tax breaks for biofuels
LONDON, Nov 20: Britain has fallen far behind its own target for increasing biofuel usage, and the government should consider extra tax incentives to encourage uptake of the renewable energy source, a parliamentary report said today.
The report by the House of Lords, the British parliament's upper chamber, supported promoting biofuel for vehicles as an alternative to petroleum in the fight against global warming.
''Increasing Europe's use of biofuels has a significant role to play in dealing with this problem,'' said Lord Renton of Mount Harry, chairman of the Lords' European Union Committee, which published the report.
Britain's goal is to have 5 per cent of road fuels come from renewable sources by 2010. That policy, known as the Road Transport Fuel Obligation, called for a 2 per cent usage rate by now but the actual current figure stands at only 0.3 per cent.
The Lords committee also said there was a pressing need to assess the full environmental impact of using biofuels and called for mandatory EU-wide biofuel certification to that end.
It pointed to the paradoxical practice of destroying the Brazilian rainforest to clear ground for planting biofuel crops, a process which on balance may produce more of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions believed to cause global warming.
Brazilian bioethanol makes up 80 per cent of all the biofuel used in Britain, according to Blooming Futures, a biofuel advocacy group.
''If CO2 saving is the primary goal, it is clearly illogical to use biofuels which have caused the emission of more greenhouse gases by their production than are saved by their consumption'', the Lords report said.
Matt Bulba of Blooming Futures said the voluntary certification scheme in force in Britain does not require oil firms to specify the source of their biofuels.
The Department of Transport welcomed the report and said it was trying to promote biofuel usage.
''That's why we've introduced the first Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation, predicted to save 1 million tonnes of carbon a year by 2010,'' it said in a statement.
''The UK is developing a robust carbon assurance scheme to ensure that the Obligation promotes the use of environmentally sustainable biofuels,'' it added.