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We should be using more seaweed to power things, MEPs say

MEPs want a cap placed on the use of less environmentally friendly biofuels, and a switch to fuels derived from seaweed and other sources.

Image: seaweed via Shutterstock

THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT is pushing for a cap on the use of traditional biofuels, and a switchover to new ones sourced from alternative sources — like seaweed and waste.

MEPs voted in favour of draft legislation on the issue this week; it’s aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions that result from the the turnover of agricultural land used to produce biofuels.

Research has shown that the increasing use of agricultural land for production of the fuels can result a greater level of emissions, cancelling out some of the benefits.

According to current legislation, member states must ensure that renewable energy accounts for at least 10 per cent of energy consumption in transport by 2020. But MEPs are now calling for a cap of 6 per cent on traditional biofuels used, and say that ‘advanced biofuels’ — sourced from seaweed and certain types of waste — should account for 2.5 per cent of that target.

Labour MEP for Dublin Emer Costello is amongst the parliament members backing the change. Speaking to RadioEP.ie, Costello said that traditional biofuels were causing social and environmental destruction in the developing world.

Food fuel hasn’t been as environmentally friendly as we thought, and in fact its damaging , causing a massive amount of starvation in the developing world.

“So we are saying now that we need to overhaul that policy, we need to have a radical rethink about that policy that we had introduced.”

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The EU is the largest producer of biofuels on the planet, generating 53 per cent of all biodiesel in 2010, according to a study by Worldwatch.org.

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Daragh Brophy

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