Biofuels are controversial because of heaps of questionable issues linked with their production, but despite the bad press it’s crazy to abandon all biofuel products. What’s really needed is agreement on what’s acceptable as a standard.
Various initiatives are sprouting up at the moment. Last week, companies, environmentalists and academics decided on the draft of a new global green biofuel standard. The signatories included over 300 professionals from organizations such as UNEP, WWF, and companies including BP, Shell as well as numerous civil society organizations. They are grouped together in the steering board of the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB), an initiative that’s comprised of a multi stakeholder process of businesses and environmentalists/academics.
The RSB, located at the Energy Center at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), is chaired by Dr. Claude Martin, the former director general of WWF. Dr. Martin said that the new standard was needed because
“With all of the mixed messages we hear about biofuels, there is a clear need for a standard that can differentiate the good from the bad. 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.”
What drives the organization mostly is the controversy over possible future conflicts arising from growing food crops for the production of green biofuels and the association of fuel with environmental problems including loss of forests and species.
The draft standard has been published online and is available to policy makers seeking to develop similar standards or certification schemes. It can also fill gaps that exist across legislative frameworks for biofuels, according to an article on Checkbiotech.com. The next stage in the development of the green biofuel standard will be to draw up a set of principles that comprise the full extent of the current concerns on biofuels. The people that draw up the proposal likely will be guided by standards on sustainable palm oil. These have already been drawn up by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
The set of principles will cover issues like the fuel price, 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.