Carthane, Quinlan. (2009) A Misleading Promise? Rethinking European Support for Biofuels. College of Europe EU Diplomacy Papers, 2009/2, June 2009. [Working Paper]
Over the past few years, biofuels made from organic crops have been widely touted by European leaders as a solution for reducing dependency on oil and gas in transportation and for mitigating climate change, arguably this century’s greatest challenge. In that time, biofuels have come to dominate not only the debate on renewable fuels but government support for them as well. From financial investment to political capital, much has been expended to breathe life into a viable European biofuel industry. Yet, despite the tremendous political support, there is now strong evidence to indicate that biofuels produced from agricultural harvests are more costly than fossil fuels in several alarming ways. While the European Union (EU) alleges that its biofuels policy is a necessary and environmentally friendly measure to address the urgency of climate change and energy security worries, it has put forward little in the way of countering the mounting evidence lodged against its policy. Accordingly, this paper questions to what extent the EU biofuels policy fulfills the promise of providing environmentally friendly and secure energy supplies. In light of the growing body of new research in the field, this paper posits that increasing the use of biofuels derived from crops in the EU is poor policy on sustainable development grounds and bears the high risk of long-term global consequences, the likes of which are still being uncovered.
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