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Bioenergy is not to blame for hunger in the world
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Brazil’s President Lula da Silva said: “I am offended when fingers which are dirty from oil and coal are pointed at clean biofuel.” The man is right. And many German critics of bioenergy are wrong.

The campaign against bioenergy which has been running for months, is directed not only at local farmers but also at Brazil as the world’s leader of bioethanol. In the largest country of Southamerica every second car is powered by clean, climate-neutral biofuel - a benefit for the environment.

For years, the campaign against bioenergy has been orchestrated by the old oil industry and many environmental associations and church relief organisations have been taken in by it. According to a study by “Union of Concerned Scientists” Exxon Mobil for example, has donated more than 16 million US-Dollars to 43 “climate sceptical organisations” between 1998 and 2005. The British Royal Society criticises that in 2005 alone, ESSO had paid almost 3 million US-Dollars to organisations which dispute climate change.

The facts: On roughly 2 % of all arable land, biofuel is being grown worldwide, but more than 30 % of agricultural land lies fallow. All these numbers give proof that first and foremost the poverty of the farmers in the Third World, who have no money to buy seeds, is the main cause of famine and not the low proportion of land used for bioenergy.

Worldwide, 37.5 million acres of tea and coffee are being cultivated, which does very little to combat hunger. But there is no campaign against the cultivation of tea and coffee. And neither is there a campaign against the cultivation of tobacco although tobacco is being cultivated on 10 million acres.

Of course, the cultivation of tea, coffee and tobacco are the basis of the livelihood for millions of farmers. But this also goes for the cultivation of fuel crops. Biomass energy has created 100,000 jobs in Germany alone. It helps to reduce the greenhouse effects and strengthens the local regional economy. In Germany, emission of CO2  was reduced by 54 million tons in 2007 because of the use of bioenergy.

In Brazil, the rainforest is not being cut down for bioenergy but mainly for the production of cattle feed. Meat-based diet has become a problem for the climate and not bioenergy, as often implied. The “Bundesverband Bioenergie” (Federal Association of bioenergy) has recently set the following realistic aims for Germany for 2020: 10 % bioenergy on the electricity market, 10 % bioenergy on the heating market and 12 % bioenergy on the fuel market.

These aims can be achieved, and in the long-term even surpassed, without conflicting with the cultivation of food.

Source >
  Franz Alt

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