Cautious line on biofuels urged

Warnings that using land for fuel crops could lead to the destruction of rainforests and higher food prices has led to the Government moving to adopt a more cautious approach to the introduction of biofuels.

Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly revealed that a report commissioned by ministers recommended action should be taken to lower greenhouse gas emissions by slowing down efforts to get suppliers to use biofuels to make up 5% of fuel sold on UK forecourts.

The investigation by Professor Ed Gallagher concluded that "uncontrolled expansion" in the biofuels industry could actually lead to an increased climate change threat if rainforests were felled to make way for crops, Ms Kelly told MPs.

She said the Government would consult on slowing the rate at which the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) was introduced, to extend the timescale for reaching the 5% target from 2010-11 to 2013-14.

Ms Kelly said her approach "acknowledges that biofuels can have an important role in reducing carbon emissions and combating climate change". However, she recognised the need for cautious progression, "until we can be certain that their expanded growth and use maximises the benefits and minimises the risks to our world".

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