Monday, July 21, 2008

Reassessing Biofuels

Biofuels a reassessment

Last week the Labour Party published its position paper on Biofuels. Along with the Labour Leader, Eamon Gilmore TD, I launched the paper in front of an audience of media and interested parties. Groups present included the Irish Bioenergy Association, Trocaire, Bord na Mona, Sustainable Energy Ireland, Birdwatach Ireland and the German-Irish Chamber of Commerce. A lively discussion followed and it was a worthwhile and interesting exercise. This is a really hot issue with growing concerns around the link between the recent dash to biofuels and the global food price hikes. However, our govenrment is silent on the issue which we find unacceptable.

Labour's position is as follows:

Labour recommends:

1. Information on traceability to be fully available. Currently biofuel data is too difficult, at times impossible, to access. EU rules and WTO rules need to be changed to provide full transparency on sources of biofuels.

2. Support for the 20% overall target as set by the EU Commission for CO² emissions reduction by 2020. (30% if global agreement achieved).

• The EU target of 10% biofuels to be reviewed, in view of the severe impact on food supplies in the developing world.

• For Ireland, the findings of the Environmental Committee of the EU Parliament to be adopted as an interim measure.

• Support for the indigenous Irish Biofuel industry in line with environmental and social sustainability criteria.

3. The Government’s Climate Change Strategy to be reviewed and updated.

• On transport, a greater emphasis on public transport and the electrification of vehicles.

• On agriculture policy, an emphasis on food security and encouragement of greater food production.

• On biofuels policy, support for sustainable biofuel production with a focus on the development of second generation biofuel production and the use of marginal land unsuitable for food production.

• On energy policy, an increase in target set from 33% to 42% for renewables for electricity generation by 2020.

To read the position paper please go to the Labour website or click here.

1 comment:

Mike Brady said...

There needs to be joined-up thinking in developing policies that deal with climate change, trade, global justice, food security and other global problems. Presently, governments tend to treat subjects in isolation and put economic interests above others. They fear that taking necessary action could put their country at an economic disadvantage, and business leaders are quick to threaten to move investment and jobs overseas - as happened when the UK was setting its carbon limits for the European Emissions Trading Scheme. The Simultaneous Policy campaign offers a way to develop a coherent set of policies, in a way which overcomes the fear of competitive disadvantage. See: