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Monday, July 07, 2008

biofuel battle begins?... or maybe not

The UK Government has released the long awaited Gallagher report on biofuels.

It's an odd, "on the one hand, on the other hand" sort of document.

So is the Government's response. According to Ruth Kelly the Government will:

* consult on slowing down the rate of increase in the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation so that the level of biofuels will increase to 5% by 2013/14, rather than 2010/11.

But also, in seeming contradiction:

* continue to support the EU target of 10% renewable transport fuels by 2020, but argue that the target is conditional on the evidence showing that it is being delivered sustainably and without significant impacts on food prices.

In reporting the story the BBC plays up the government's increasing "caution" about biofuels. But the Guardian stresses that the Government will continue to expand the role of biofuels.

The Guardian are probably right. This is basically continuation of biofuels with a bit of caution expressed. The whole idea of "sustainable biofuels" which they are playing up here has not proved a successful sop to biofuel critics (and for good reason). But the Government are obviously going to keep plugging away at it, because there is not much else they can say.

Things would probably be different if that 10% target wasn't stuck round their necks like a millstone. But, as in the case of other unpopular policies like HIPs, the Government has signed up to something at EU level and must now continue to defend it, regardless of the mounting evidence against it.

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