The inevitable increase of biofuel production is predicted to have a negative impact on the economy and ecosystems of developing countries according to a key UN study released on 4 July. However, leading fleet management firm, Masterlease, warns that in order to avoid draining any one resource it is critical that a mix of environmentally-friendly fuels are used to ensure the sustainable and long-term success of biofuel.
According to the report, co-written by the UN and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), food prices are predicted to rise between 20 and 50 percent in the next decade and the growth of fuel crops – made from grains, sugars and oilseed – will threaten the economies of food-importing countries and take land out of food production.
The report has sparked further scare stories in the media. However, Robert Kingdom at Masterlease says that the UK can learn from this report and previous mistakes in order to keep this fuel sustainable.
Masterlease’s Robert Kingdom said: “We have relied too heavily on fossil fuels for the past 30 or 40 years – this appears to be bringing the environment to its knees while supplies of these fuels are finite. Biofuel represents an excellent alternative to these and is certainly being backed by major manufacturers whose biofuel vehicles are not only cleaner but often more efficient than their petrol or diesel equivalents.
“However, neither domestic energy providers nor vehicle manufacturers should see Biofuel as an end to all their problems as this will create an unreasonable strain on the farmers and nations that are expected to produce them. There is already evidence to suggest that forests are being cleared too quickly to provide land for growing crops. Hopefully we will have learned lessons from the past – approaching the production of biofuels in an unsustainable way won’t benefit anybody in the long-term.
“The same goes for powering the national grid, for example. There is no way that you could rely solely on wind or solar power to provide the nation’s energy, but adding wind, solar and tidal power to the existing set-up will make energy creation cleaner and cheaper. Likewise their benefits should be applied to a range of uses, including both domestic and vehicle energy.
“In environmental terms, there will always be a downside to every form of transport – even charging electric cars will burn fossil fuels at power stations – but by making the most of a variety of approaches, we can ensure that there is no single overbearing drain on one particular resource.”