In the UK, the majority of Britons don't realise that ethanol-based
biofuel will be added to petrol - starting April 15 - according
to a Friends of the Earth study.
Eighty-nine per cent of respondents were ignorant of the
Transport Fuels Obligation - based on EU regulations
- which calls for all petrol sold to comprise 2.5 per cent
biofuels as of 15 April. Of those that were aware of the new
rules, 78 per cent said the UK government should tackle vehicle
emissions by improving public transport or making vehicles
The survey of just over 2,000 adults, conducted online by
YouGov, claims to be the first public-opinion survey
into the RTFO.
Environmental groups, such as Friends of the Earth, oppose
the use of biofuels grown from crops like rapeseed and corn,
because of knock-on problems. They say such biofuels increase
greenhouse gas emissions through land conversion and greater
use of chemical fertilisers, push up food prices because agricultural
land is devoted to fuel-growing and contribute to the destruction
of forests as more land is converted to agriculture.
In March, a coalition of environmental groups wrote to UK
Transport Minister Ruth Kelly urging her to delay the RFTO.
The EU Directive to add an increasing proportion of biofuel
to petrol - up to 10 per cent by 2020 - was established in
2003. Since then, a number of eminent voices have joined the
debate on the side of the environmentalists - among them Professor
Robert Watson, chief scientist at Defra and Nobel prize-winning
chemist Paul Crutzen.
"Most people will be horrified to know the government
is putting biofuels in petrol [if they knew that] damage to
forests could make climate change worse" - said Kenneth
Richter, Friends of the Earth biofuels campaigner.
"People want to see real green transport solutions that
will make a difference to their lives - like better public
transport and smarter cars that burn less fuel."