Biofuels Worse for Global Warming Than Petrol, Say Academics

By Gary Cutlack on at

The Energy Institute at the University of Michigan may have some bad news for any major corporations who've staked their futures on biofuel -- it's production and use could contribute more to global warming through carbon dioxide output than burning up petrol to drop the kids off at their yoga lessons.

That's according to this serious thing about the US biofuel industry, which says that biofuels shouldn't be thought of as inherently carbon-neutral by the way they eat CO2 while growing then spew it out while being burned, as some of the CO2 produced is ignored in calculations.

Report lead author professor John DeCicco said: "Carbon neutrality has really just been an assumption. To verify the extent to which that assumption is true, you really need to analyze what's going on on the farmland, where the biofuels are being grown. People haven't done that in the past -- they felt like they didn't need to."

"When it comes to the emissions that cause global warming, it turns out that biofuels are worse than gasoline," is DeCicco's bombshell finding, arrived at by calculating that only 37% of carbon dioxide emissions created by burning the fuel can be offset by increased plant consumption.

The Renewable Fuels Association obviously thinks this stinks as much as a trillion Argentinian cow farts, with RFA's Geoff Cooper saying: "He has been making these arguments for years, and for years they have been rejected by climate scientists, regulatory bodies and governments around the world, and reputable life-cycle analysis experts. Just like Professor DeCicco’s last study, this work was funded by the American Petroleum Institute, which obviously has a vested interest in obscuring and confusing accepted bioenergy carbon accounting practices." [Climatic Change via Freep]

Image credit: Biofuel from Shutterstock

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