Feb 4 (IPS) – Biofuels have quickly turned from environmental saviour to just another mega-scale get-rich quick scheme. Countries and regions without their own oil reserves to tap now see their farms, peatlands and forests as potential “oil fields” — shallow but renewable lakes of green oil.
Renewable does not mean sustainable, and in most cases the only green part of biofuel is the wealth they generate.
Not surprisingly, given the record high oil prices, worldwide investment in bioenergy reached 21 billion dollars in 2007, according to the U.N. Environment Programme. The Inter-American Development Bank announced 3 billion dollars for investment in private sector biofuel projects — mainly in Brazil — while the World Bank said it had 10 billion dollars available in 2007.
Meanwhile development assistance for food-producing agriculture had fallen to 3.4 billion dollars in 2004 — with the World Bank’s share less than 1 billion dollars, according to the Bank’s own World Development Report on Agriculture released in October 2007. And most of this financial assistance was spent on subsidising use of chemical fertilisers.
“It’s not just the World Bank, regional development agencies, progressive development groups in Europe and many countries are all investing in agrofuels,” says Anuradha Mittal of the Oakland Institute, a U.S. NGO focused on social and environmental issues.
“I was amazed to see how much land in India has been taken away from poor people to start up new agrofuel operations,” Mittal told IPS after a recent visit to her home country.
Many social and environmental activists use the term agrofuels instead of biofuels because the focus is on using agriculture to mass produce fuel.
Agrofuels are “false solutions” to the critical problem of climate change, and in many cases may simply be making it worse, she says. Worse, because rich countries think they are making real gains in reducing emissions with biofuels while utterly failing to deal with their out-of-control consumption of energy and other resources.
For complete story see Record Financing For Biofuels, Not Food
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