Biofuels in The Guardian

Nov 7th, 2012 | By | Category: Featured Stories

Stefano Valentino is based in Brussels and focuses on European and global issues. He has covered European affairs for the Italian print media (il Giornale, Panorama) and for several specialized magazines, such as the business bi-monthly Lombard Finanza, Famiglia cristiana, il Venerdì (La Repubblica) and the daily il Sole24 Ore.  He has received several awards, and in 2008 he founded the no profit association Reporters for an Interactive, Cooperative and Specialized Information (Ricsi). He joined the Africa Reporting Project as an International Scholar in 2009-2010.

Valentino’s article Biofuels boom in Africa as British firms lead rush on land for plantations appeared in The Guardian.

Biofuels boom in Africa as British firms lead rush on land for plantations

Controversial fuel crops linked to rising food prices and hunger, as well as increased greenhouse gas emissions

by Stefano Valentino

British firms have acquired more land in Africa for controversial biofuel plantations than companies from any other country, a Guardian investigation has revealed.

Half of the 3.2m hectares (ha) of biofuel land identified – in countries from Mozambique to Senegal – is linked to 11 British companies, more than any other country.

Liquid fuels made from plants – such as bioethanol – are hailed by some as environmentally-friendly replacements for fossil fuels. Because they compete for land with crop plants, biofuels have also been linked to record food prices and rising hunger. There are also fears they can increase greenhouse gas emissions.

A market has been created by British and EU laws requiring the blending of rising amounts of biofuels into petrol and diesel, but the rules were condemned as unethical and “backfiring badly” in April by a Nuffield Council on Bioethics commission. In the UK, only 31% of biofuels used meet voluntary environmental standards intended to protect water supplies, soil quality and carbon stocks in the source country.

There are no central records of land acquisitions in Africa, but research by the Guardian revealed the scale of the biofuels rush in sub-Saharan Africa – 100 projects and 50 companies in more than 20 countries.

Link here to read more of  Biofuels boom in Africa as British firms lead rush on land for plantations at The Guardian.


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