Manufacturers and other parties involved with biofuels have agreed on a global green biofuel standard. The new standard hopefully will eradicate the controversy and confusion that surrounds biofuels at the moment. Its main guarantee is food security and signatories include BP and Shell.
The biofuel standard is very similar to the Forest Stewardship Council’s certification for different types of paper. The organization behind the biofuel standard is the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB). It is located in Switzerland at the Energy Center at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL).
The signatories to the new standard include the big league oil companies BP and Shell as well as more than 300 professionals from organizations linked to biofuels both in the public and private sector and civil society movements. The RSB was formed because of all the bad press biofuels are getting and aims to inform consumers in depth about the good and the bad.
Members of the RSB are mostly concerned over the negative associations of growing food crops for the production of green biofuels, fuel with environmental problems and the loss of forests and species. Biofuels are controversial because of all these issues, but despite all the negative side effects it’s still crazy to abandon biofuels categorically.
Now that agreement on the draft of the global standard on what should qualify as green biofuel has been reached, the RSB daily staff are going to finalize the details, drawing up a set of principles. Issues like the fuel price are covered as well as carbon emissions, social and environmental impacts right along the supply chain including rural development, protection of land and labour rights, and maintaining biodiversity and food security.
The RSB’s chairman, Dr. Claude Martin (formerly the director general of WWF), said that the new standard was needed because “for an issue of such seminal importance, it was necessary to bring many different stakeholder groups together to agree on how to define and measure sustainable biofuels.”
Apart from following in the tracks of the FSB, the RSB will also take its cue from the standards on sustainable palm oil. These have already been drawn up by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).
RBS published its draft standard online and invites policy makers seeking to develop similar standards or certification schemes to use its contents, even to only fill gaps that exist across legislative frameworks for biofuels, according to a report on Checkbiotech.com.
The usage of food crops to produce biofuels is strongly opposed by people who believe it is unethical to process food for such purposes and in many cases the food crops actually produce way more CO2 when they’re growing than the cars running on bio fuel are prevented from emitting.
The 2008 World Development Report “Agriculture for Development” provides a compelling example of why growing food crops is as obscene as it sounds; over 240 kilograms (or 528 pounds) of corn – enough to feed one person for a year – is required to produce 26 gallons, or 100 liters of ethanol. That’s the equivalent of one gas tank of a sports car.