The (bio) fuelling of poverty

Act now to stop the UK government (bio) fuelling poverty

Globally, we utilise unsustainable energy sources, which inevitably lead to fuel shortages and climate change. When the biofuel wagon arrived, hope came with it. On paper it sounded pretty good – a fuel made from agricultural crops. In practice, however, biofuels don’t quite measure up. In 2009, The European Commission passed a law stating that 10% of all transport fuel in member states must come from renewable sources by 2020. By the same date, current industrial biofuels policies could push hundreds of millions of extra people into hunger.

Biofuels were promised to be produced on cheap land and to bring development to poor countries. When governments and industries raised their glasses to biofuels, companies bought up the land before the glasses were lowered.

What’s wrong with them?

Locally, foreign biofuel companies are ousting poor farmers from their fertile land. In just five African countries, 1.1 million hectares have been given over to biofuels – a landmass the size of Belgium. Every last inch of this land threatens the local population’s ability to feed themselves. What’s more, biofuels affect people’s access to energy in developing countries, and water is diverted away from wells in order to irrigate the biofuel crops.

Globally, food prices are continuing to rise. Biofuels are only aiding this by forcing prices and pushing people into hunger, as warned by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation. In the last six months of 2010, the prices of wheat and corn increased by 50%, having a disastrous effect on families in the developing world.

Environmentally, most industrial biofuels actually release more greenhouse gasses than the fossil fuels that they were designed to replace. These not only have a negative effect on developing countries, but they increase air pollution in the UK, meaning that biofuel use makes climate change worse.

Potentially, we can stop this catastrophe. ActionAid is calling for the Department for Transport to scrap the target for biofuel use. The UK government needs to listen to science and invest in solutions to climate change by supporting non-biofuel renewable energy in transport, not promoting another unsustainable fuel source.

Right now the government is deciding whether to increase the number of biofuels in our petrol and diesel, and we have only until Thursday 2ndJune to stop them.

So what can you do?

Send them a text.

That’s all.  Your text will join thousands of others in a global text petition. All you have to do is type the word ‘ACTION’ into a text followed by your message against biofuels. You then need to add your name and postcode and send it to 82727. Here’s mine as an example:

(Note, texts are charged at your standard network rate so you won’t get robbed with any hidden charges. You’ll receive a text straight back with a link to their website with your message on the biofuels message wall. You can also play your message back to here it in a funny voice).

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