Pacific Institute of Resource Management
advisory board

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Avoid ‘biofuel’ imports like plague

14/03/2009 – News from a study done for the NZ Business Council For Sustainable Development that nearly a third of New Zealanders say they will switch to using biofuels if the tax on them is reduced, is bad news for the planet and for many millions of third world people suffering through the expansion of agrofuels to feed the rich world’s cars. Around 15 Mobil petrol stations in the greater Wellington region of New Zealand are apparantly now selling bioethanol blended petrol, sourced from Brazil. In June 2008, NZ’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority welcomed Mobil’s trial of two ethanol blends, saying it was sourced from “sustainable Brazilian sugarcane.”

‘Sustainable biofuel’ imports from third world countries are promoted as a means for rich countries to reduce their huge and increasing transport emissions from the private car, without having to reduce consumption. But instead of reducing the dangers of climate change, millions of hectares of third world land being used in vast plantations of monocrops with oil-based fertilisers and pesticides, are massively extending the industrial agricultural frontier in Africa, Brazil, Latin America and South-East Asia, thus contributing to soil erosion, deforestation and global warming emissions, as well as devouring much needed water and land resources. Unsustainable development is continuing in the name of sustainability, causing misery, hunger and havoc to keep the rich world in the manner to which it is accustomed with sustainable indigenous peoples and others being evicted from their land. Far from using ‘biofuel’ imports, we should avoid the biofuel petrol pump like the plague and become pilgrims of sustainability, energetically promoting the decommissioning of the car and the large-scale revitalisation of public transport. For more information see Pacific Ecologist issue 17 which is 68 pages and includes photos and cartoons. Or post $10 to P.O. Box 12125, Thorndon, Wellington, New Zealand. In this issue civil society and third world social movements give their first hand account of what is really happening on the ground with the aggressive march of agrofuel developments.

Pacific Ecologist