UK drivers 'in the dark about biofuels'

Posted: 15 April 2008

Almost nine out of ten Britons had no idea that biofuels would be added to their petrol from today, according to a public attitudes survey on the controversial alternative fuels.

The research also revealed that, of those who knew what biofuels are, three quarters would prefer the Government to curb emissions by improving public transport or making cars greener.

The YouGov survey, commissioned by Friends of the Earth, found that 78 per cent of the public agree that European governments should make vehicle manufacturers double the fuel efficiency of new cars by 2020 in order to tackle climate change. And that more than two thirds of people think the Government is not doing enough to improve public transport. The UK Government's Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation, brought in to meet EU regulations, means all petrol sold will have to include at least 2.5 per cent biofuels - made from crops- from 15 April 2008. But although the move aims to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and cut carbon emissions, FOE says new scientific evidence shows that the growth in biofuels could actually increase greenhouse gas emissions through land conversion and greater use of chemical fertilisers.

Wrong strategy

Worryingly, two thirds of those surveyed were unaware that the growth in biofuels is contributing to the destruction of rainforest.

Friends of the Earth believes the UK Government and the EU should scrap their biofuels targets and tackle transport pollution by investing in better public transport and strengthening proposals for mandatory emissions limits on all new cars.

Biofuels campaigner, Kenneth Richter, said: "Most people will be horrified to know the Government is putting biofuels in our petrol when the damage they do to forests could make climate change worse. It's time for a new direction in transport policy."