There are good biofuels and bad biofuels: the trick is telling one from the other. That’s particularly difficult when trying to take account of the natural forests and wetlands that can destroyed in the drive to grow some biofuel crops. But we’re getting closer, it seems, and palm oil and soy beans now appear utterly unsupportable as a source of biodiesel.
The new data comes from a leak obtained by EurActiv from the European Commission. The EC is considering what level of carbon emissions each type of biofuel causes once burned, after everything – including “indirect land-use change” – is taken into account.
It is obvious that for a biofuel to be useful in cutting the emissions driving global warming it needs to have a smaller carbon footprint than regular fuel from crude oil. So I have added the numbers for crude oil and oil from the highly-polluting tar sands for reference in the table below. The leaked biofuel numbers are, I’m told similar to several recent studies, and therefore credible.