Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Good news from across the pond

From The Scotsman:

IT WAS seen as a radical solution to tackle climate change by reducing harmful gases from car exhausts, while sheltering motorists from soaring petrol prices.

But now questions about the wider environmental damage caused by converting farmers' fields to grow crops for biofuels have prompted a major government rethink.

Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, said yesterday that the UK would reconsider how far it was prepared to sign up to proposals for a tenfold increase in the use of biofuels by 2020, in response to fears this was causing a "world crisis" in the cost of food.

The doubling in price of rice and wheat has sparked riots in Egypt and Haiti, and led to a World Bank warning that 100 million people could be pushed deeper into poverty. And it emerged yesterday that price surges have seen grocery bills in the UK rise by around £15 a week in a year.

Since Tuesday of last week, 2.5 per cent of the petrol and diesel sold at the pumps in Britain has been bioethanol or biodiesel. Under European Union targets, this is due to increase to 5 per cent by 2010, and 10 per cent by 2020.

The UK's 5 per cent target is only half that on the Continent – and now Mr Brown has bowed to new scientific fears that biofuels may be doing more harm than good.

Total biofuel consumption in the UK is likely to be about 1.2 billion litres this year and 2.5 billion litres in 2010. Five years ago, it was only 19 million litres.

Yesterday, ahead of a Downing Street summit on the world food crisis, the Prime Minister said: "Now we know that biofuels, intended to promote energy independence and combat climate change, are frequently energy inefficient.

"We need to look closely at the impact on food prices and the environment of different production methods and to ensure we are more selective in our support.

"If the UK review shows that we need to change our approach, we will also push for change in EU biofuels targets."

This is wonderful news. One, because it means that less of the world's food supply will be diverted into motor fuel and two, it will mean that it will be harder for the US to continue down its ruinous biofuel rathole.

I don't think it is an accident that Europe is coming to its senses on this before the US. One factor is that Europe has a much larger dole than the US and a great many of those living on government handouts in Europe are Muslims. Muslims tend to riot whenever anything annoys them and food rationing would definitely be annoying. Another thing is that socialism is so deeply embedded in Europe that conservatives in Europe would be called left-wing Democrats in America.

As I said yesterday leftists become calmer when they hold unchallenged power and are sometimes willing to listen to reason.

Also the farm lobby is not as strong in the UK as it is in the US where giant corporations like ADM provide vast sums of money to both political parties.

I recommend that sensible Americans begin using the UK's action to begin shaming American biofuel advocates into abandoning their folly.

Too bad this didn't happen in time for Earth Day.