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Biofuel standards must be set says EIC

The government needs to introduce minimum requirements for biofuels to ensure they help the environment, according to industry experts.

Standards for sustainability and carbon savings must be set as part of the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation (RTFO), according to the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC).

Members of the EIC’s Renewable Transport Fuels Working Group were responding to the Department for Transport consultation on the draft RTFO, which sets out targets for biofuels to be included in 51% fuel sold at UK petrol stations.

The EIC has called for minimum carbon savings and sustainability standards to be introduced by 2010. This, it says, would build on existing plans for mandatory reporting on carbon savings and sustainability under the RTFO to be introduced next year.

The EIC says its proposed criteria would provide an independent system to ensure that the biofuel included in petrol and diesel and sold to the public under the RTFO won’t damage wildlife and habitats such as rainforests.

It would also tie the level of support offered to biofuels to the amount of carbon savings they deliver.

EIC chairman Adrian Wilkes said: “Biofuels offer an important opportunity to help tackle the growing carbon emissions from transport.

“But public support depends, rightly, on us developing the right biofuels. EIC members are committed to an RTFO that both stimulates biofuels and has robust carbon and sustainability standards at its heart. It would be a mistake for the government to wait for international standards to be agreed. Instead the government should be brave and announce its intention to ensure that biofuels meet strict, externally audited, widely accepted and mandatory sustainability and carbon standards by 2010.”

Earlier this month the issue of biofuels was touched on by the House of Commons General Committee as part of a discussion on fuel duty rates.

Julia Goldsworthy MP asked if it were possible to differentiate through the fuel duty mechanisms between biofuels from more and less sustainable sources.

In reply, John Healey MP replied that such an assurance would form a central feature of the RTFO.

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