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Climate survey pooh-poohs biofuels

by Staff Writers
Nusa Dua, Indonesia (AFP) Dec 10, 2007
Biofuels may be rising in popularity worldwide but policymakers largely reject them as a way to fight global warming, a survey said Monday.

A poll of 1,000 climate change "decision makers" from 105 countries, including government and industry officials, listed solar energy as the technology with the top potential to cut carbon emissions.

Wind farms also ranked highly in the World Bank-supported poll. But biofuels derived from crops, such as corn-based ethanol, placed last, with only 21 percent saying it was the best option when considering the side effects.

Biofuel production has been on the rise in recent years as it is seen as a clean form of energy in an era of soaring oil prices and growing worries about carbon emissions blamed for global warming.

But critics say that biofuel is also jacking up prices on basic food products by intensifying demand for agricultural produce.

"These people understand that the biofuel idea is probably a good one, but you probably shouldn't rush into it," said Julia Marton-Lefevre, director general of the World Conservation Union, presenting the findings at UN-led talks on climate change in Bali.

"If you're able to provide biofuel so that people in the north can drive more cars but people in the south next to the area where you're growing palm oil, for example, don't have enough money to eat, that's ridiculous," she said.

Doug Miller, head of the polling company Globespan which conducted the survey, said more policymakers were hopeful about finetuning second-generation biofuels, such as those made from forestry waste.

Policymakers may fear "that a kind of disaster with an impact on food prices is going to turn consumers and the political system off the next generation" of biofuel, Miller said.

The survey also found that 92 percent of policymakers believed it was important for all countries to be involved in the next agreement on global warming.

US President George W. Bush has rejected the Kyoto Protocol, the landmark treaty on gas emissions which expires in 2012.

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Wind turbines to power every British home by 2020: minister
London (AFP) Dec 10, 2007
Up to 7,000 wind turbines will be installed off the English coast under plans announced by the government on Monday to power every home in Britain with wind-generated electricity by 2020.

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