Biofuels have attracted a lot of publicity over the past couple of years, sparking a very public debate about their sustainability
NGOs, governments, energy companies, opinion formers and energy consumers have asked a number of searching questions. Will using land to grow biofuels make it harder to feed the growing global population? Do biofuel feedstocks contribute to water shortages or cause soil erosion and deforestation? Will their wider introduction really produce significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions?
We understand that concerns about biofuels are genuine – although not always based on a full understanding of the facts. We’re determined to play a full and constructive part in the ongoing biofuels debate.
We’ve always advocated a sustainable approach to biofuels, calling for international sustainability standards to cover greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental and social impacts of biofuels.
The wider impact of biofuels
We’re convinced that biofuels can make a big difference to reducing climate change without adversely affecting food supplies if they’re done well. We also believe that they can have other, wider positive impacts. For example, feedstock cultivation (which currently accounts for around 1% of all arable land but could rise to around 4% by 2020) can provide a catalyst for bringing improved agricultural skills and techniques into common practice – particularly in parts of the world where food crop yields are typically low. But again, this will only be the case if we do biofuels well.
Addressing the issues
To do biofuels well, we need to work in partnership. That’s why we’re actively engaged with other energy businesses, international bodies such as the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, multi-stakeholder initiatives, academic institutions and local NGOs where we operate – exploring the macro and micro issues raised by biofuels feedstock cultivation and production.