Significant Shifts Needed in UK Policies Towards Climate Change

The front page of today’s Guardian reports that the Gallagher Report into the UK’s biofuels policy, to be published next week, will call for greater research into the indirect impacts of biofuels on land use and food production before the Government can set targets for their use. The report will say that there is a place for biofuels, as an alternative to fossil fuels and as a source of income to poor farmers with marginal lands, but that a distinction must be made between “first generation” fuels and “second generation” fuels made from non-food plants.

The Transport Secretary, Ruth Kelly, commissioned Professor Ed Gallagher, head of the Renewable Fuels Agency, to conduct the review back in February. Since then, the Government’s “Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation” has come into force, requiring all petrol and diesel sold at Britain’s pumps to contain 2.5% biofuels. The EU is pushing for a 10% target across Europe by 2010.

The paper also reports on comments by the Renewables Advisory Board (RAB) that the UK can at best expect to generate 14% of its energy from sustainable sources by 2020, missing an EU target of 15%. The 14% figure could be met through “significant but achievable policy changes”. The RAB comments that current policies will produce just 6% renewable energy by 2020.