News - Biofuels

Global food prices and increased biofuel production: an overview of the food vs. fuel debate

Author’s note: This article provides a short overview of the more prominent research, media articles and organisations that have been involved in the debate about increased biofuel production and rising food prices – the ‘food vs. fuel’ debate. As literature on the subject is extensive and growing, it does not claim to be comprehensive, nor to evaluate the accuracy of the research papers and statements to which it refers.

Clarifying misconceptions about taxpayer-subsidized ethanol exports in the United States

Last November, the Financial Times published an article charging that U.S.-produced ethanol is collecting U.S. tax credits before being shipped to Europe, where it also qualifies for favorable tax treatment. I covered this story in "Taxpayer Subsidized Ethanol Exports May Bite Industry in the Future". The gist of my article was that if this charge is true, it completely undermines the supposed reasons U.S. taxpayers are subsidizing ethanol in the first place: to reduce dependence on foreign oil.

USDA concludes that economy-wide benefits of its biofuel mandate would be greater without the tax credit

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Economic Research Service recently published a study on biofuel subsidies, Effects of Increased Biofuels on the U.S. Economy in 2022. The report examines how key components of the U.S. economy would be affected by the United States’ Renewable Fuel Standard, which mandates that 36 billion gallons of biofuel be blended into transportation fuel by 2022.

Fossil-fuel subsidies round-up: July and August 2010

News round-up.

Diminishing Expectations: Broken Promises in the Development of Cellulosic Ethanol Production

The United States' Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently acknowledged that, despite generous levels of taxpayer funding, cellulosic ethanol was not scaling up as quickly as they had hoped. So they reduced the 2010 cellulosic ethanol mandate from 100 million gallons to 6.5 million gallons. The basis for their decision was contained in a published update to the Renewable Fuel Standards Program.

Earth Policy Institute reveals food-cost of U.S. biofuels policy

On 21 January, the Earth Policy Institute published a data highlight on their website about the impact of United States biofuels production on world food supplies. Originally part of the larger work, Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, which stresses more generally the importance of acting to ensure world food supplies, the analysis starkly illustrates the cost of U.S. biofuels in terms of foregone food.

Subsidized U.S. Biodiesel: The Never-Ending Story

In 2004 the U.S. Congress created a USD$ 1/gallon (US$ 0.264/litre) blenders' tax credit for biodiesel that was slated to expire in 2006. But in 2005 it extended the tax credit through the end of 2008 and, before that year was up, extended it again, through 2009.

ECIPE conclude EU biofuels policy is costly, protectionist and risks violating WTO obligations

The European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE) has released a report criticizing the European Union's biofuels policy, Green Protectionism in the European Union: How Europe's Biofuels Policy and the Renewable Energy Directive Violate WTO Commitments.

Media Forum: Bangkok, Thailand

BANGKOK - 23-24 July 2009 - In partnership with the Southeast Asia bureau of the Inter Press Service, the GSI held its fifth media forum, bringing together 13 journalists from across the region and a variety of energy and climate change experts. The forum featured an ambitious agenda that centered on energy and climate change policies in South East Asia. The second day was dedicated to developing creative journalistic articles on related themes.

Biofuels subsidy studies in Canada and the U.S.; Subsidy transparency in Argentina; Farm subsidy poll in the U.S.

A new report by the Global Subsidies Initiative (GSI) quantifies government support for biofuels in Canada, and analyzes whether this expenditure represents good value for Canadian taxpayers.

Biofuels – At What Cost? Government support for ethanol and biodiesel in Canada is the latest in a series of reports addressing subsidies for biofuels in Australia, Canada, China, the European Union, Indonesia, Malaysia, Switzerland and the United States.