Oil prices trigger biofuel production


Top official quoted: The UN News Centre reported Alexander Müller, the new assistant director-general for FAO Sustainable Development Department, as saying at the agency’s Rome headquarters: “The gradual move away from oil has begun.

25 per cent share predicted: “Over the next 15 to 20 years we may see bio-fuels providing a full 25 per cent of the world’s energy needs.”

Positive impact on rural economies: FAO’s interest in bio-energy stems from the positive impact which energy crops were expected to have on rural economies and the opportunity offered countries to diversify their energy sources.

Risks seen in depending on oil: Muller said factors pushing for a momentous change in the world energy market included environmental constraints such as increased global warming and the Kyoto Protocol’s curbs on emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases as well as a growing perception by governments of the risks of dependence on oil.

Bio-energy more competitive: “Oil at more than $70 a barrel makes bio-energy potentially more competitive,” Müller said. “Also, in the last decade global environmental concerns and energy consumption patterns have built up pressure to introduce more renewable energy into national energy plans and to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.”

One million Brazilian cars use “flex fuel”: FAO highlighted Brazil as an example for the rest of the world. Latin America’s largest country was the world’s biggest producer of bio-ethanol and one million Brazilian cars already run on fuel made from sugar cane, with most new cars powered by “flex fuel” engines. Introduced three years ago they use either petrol or bioethanol, or any mix of the two.

Europe lagging: Europe lagged well behind Brazil in bio-ethanol production and consumption, but the European Union (EU) had set a target of increasing the share of bio-fuels in transport to 8 per cent by 2015. FAO officials said that if oil prices stayed high, things could move even faster.

Focus on small farmers: FAO official stressed that the focus of the organisation was on the likely benefits for small farmers. One hazard was that large-scale promotion of bio-energy relying on intensive cash-crop monocultures could see the sector dominated by a few agri-energy giants, without any significant gains for small farmers.

Reference: Digest of latest news reported on website of Climate Change Secretariat of United Nations Framework on Climate Change Control (UNFCCC). 26 April 2006. Address: PO Box 260 124, D-53153 Bonn. Germany. Phone: : (49-228) 815-1005, Fax: (49-228) 815-1999. Email: press@unfccc.int

Erisk Net, 27/4/2006



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