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Global biopact on biofuels can bring benefits to both rich and poor nations

A GLOBAL Biofuels Biopact between rich and poor countries can help alleviate poverty in the developing world while helping to solve the problems of global warming and energy security in the developed world, says a new paper in the journal Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining published by SCI and John Wiley & Sons.

According to the paper’s author, John Mathews, professor of Strategic Management at Macquarie University, Australia, a Biopact – a trade agreement to guarantee market factors between the North (developed countries) and the South (developing countries) – will enable the expansion of global trade in biofuels under controlled and sustainable conditions, countering recent opinion that biofuels are unsustainable and will have a negative impact.

Professor Mathews said: “Branding all biofuels from developing countries as unsustainable and blocking exports of these fuels to developed nations is ‘disguised protectionism’.

“Agriculture in developing countries in the tropics can be more sustainable if it features good practice, because of lower energy inputs, lower water inputs and lower carbon footprints. And good practice can be assured by a Biopact.”

“A global Biopact could include measures to prevent clearing rainforest for biofuels production, for example. If markets in the North for responsibly produced biofuels are opened, then fuels grown irresponsibly can effectively be banned.”

Opening up the markets could also allow EU countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by importing carbon-neutral biofuels grown in the tropical “South”.

Professor Mathews lent support to the idea that carbon credits could be earned by maintaining rainforests intact.

The paper also suggests that 2,000 biorefineries in the South could be built over a decade with investment costing approx US$240 billion over 10 years – in contrast with US$470 billion predicted by the International Energy Agency to be invested in the conventional fossil fuel industry by 2010.

Professor Mathews added: “Greater investment in biofuels could improve agricultural efficiency and increase yield of non-food crops, generating income and enabling a greater ability to purchase food and improve technology to increase agricultural production of food crops.”

Meral Nugent | alfa
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