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Biofuels worse for climate than petrol say greens

Biofuels aimed at the European market could produce up to six times the emissions of petrol because of the forests they will destroy, campaigners warned today.

The RSPB, ActionAid and Nature Kenya have criticised plans to clear thousands of hectares of the Dakatcha Woodlands in Kenya to make way for plantations of jatropha, which can be used to make the "green" fuels.

They warn clearing the forests will generate far more carbon emissions than using fossil fuels, will damage the livelihoods of 20,000 people who rely on the woodlands and destroy the habitats of a number of threatened species of animals and birds.

Miracle

Fuel produced from the seeds of the jatropha plant is set to be used to generate "green" heat and electricity in Kenya and Europe.

But the campaigners say they could also be used to make biofuels for European vehicle tanks to meet EU targets for 10pc of all transport fuels to come from renewable sources by 2020.

The groups are calling for subsidies and targets for biofuels to be scrapped and the plans for Dakatcha Woodlands to be abandoned.

Tim Rice, ActionAid's biofuels expert, said: "Biofuels are far from the miracle climate cure they were thought to be.

"Like most other biofuels, jatropha could actually end up increasing carbon emissions."

hnews@herald.ie