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Biofuels can lead to deforestation says Unilever executive
mongabay.com
August 11, 2006


While biofuels are hyped for their potential to off-set fossil fuel use, the shift toward their use should proceed with caution warns Alan Jope, vice president of consumer products giant Unilever. In an August 7 interview with The Times, Jope said that the environmental drawbacks of biofuels is overlooked.



Amazon: giving way to biofuels?

"Superficially, it looks politically altruistic for a politician to say we are going to replace dwindling reserves of fossil fuels with renewable biofuels," said Jope. "We are now seeing the prospect of very material deforestation."

The Times article notes that "Government grants and subsidies for biofuels are also having unintended environmental consequences in the Amazon and South-East Asia, where rain forests are being burnt to clear land for biofuel crops, such as palm oil, and sugar cane, used to produce ethanol." It says that "figures from the OECD show that Europe would need to convert more than 70 per cent of arable land in order to raise the proportion of biofuel used in road transport to 10 per cent."

According to the article, Unilever wants policymakers to "shift the focus to next-generation biofuel technologies that turn wood chips and straw into fuel. These have less effect on the food chain and are better in cutting CO2 output."

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