Monday, May 18, 2009
SEMA hosted an event on Biofuels on with Deepak Rughani and Rachel Boyd from Biofuelwatch.
Rachel Boyd relayed her experience of the effects of agrofuel expansion during her time in Columbia. She discussed the use of bribery and the threats of violence by paramilitaries to push people from their land in order to make way for large-scale mono plantations of fuel crops, rather than subsistence farming for food. She also discussed the cycles of debt that plantation workers fall into as well as the life threatening health hazards of heavy pesticide exposure with little protective clothing.
Deepak Rughani discussed the broader threat that biofuels present in terms of eco-system collapse, especially of the world's main carbon sinks such as in the Amazon. Worryingly, the aviation industry is looking towards biofuels as a way of greenwashing their growth. Deepak cited some test cases from airlines such as Virgin using aircraft fuel from plant matter such as coconuts. He argued that these were little more than publicity stunts given the amount of coconuts that would be needed to run the industry in this way.
Biofuels have already caused rises in world food prices in recent years. Studies show that when we factor in the fossil fuel needed to produce and refine agrofuels, as well as the loss of carbon sinks and potential to absorb, biofuels present little by way of CO2 cuts. If the world continues to pursue this false solution to climate change, it will find itself faced with the threat of eco-system collapse as well as the social injustice of land displacement and world hunger caused by rising food prices. Clearly - biofuels are not the answer.
You can download Deepak's powerpoint presentation 'The Greening of Aviation: Biofuels, the final justification for airport expansion' from the SEMA website soon.