Sustainability

Sustainable food, energy and waste are competing priorities. A common platform for sustainable agriculture and responsible energy is needed. A standard definition of energy balance is required to allow comparisons. Biofuels can never be made entirely risk free, but the risk can be reduced by developing and introducing credible sustainability criteria as soon as possible. A consistent and transparent sustainability certification scheme for biodiesel is necessary to maintain confidence in its performance from environmental and social perspectives.

Biofuels production has caused various social and environmental problems but biodiesel can be and should be produced in a sustainable way. The use of non-sustainable agricultural practices worldwide in biodiesel production should be discouraged. Intensive, large-scale cultivation of biofuel crops requires adequate domestication to a point of human/animal safety. Energy crops (such as palm tree) should be cultivated in a responsible way. Intensive single-crop farming for fuel (e. g. US corn for bioethanol) is environmentally unsustainable. Water efficiency is becoming ever more important. Justifying biodiesel as a superior fuel requires looking at the entire environmental impact including use of scarce land and water resources, effects on sensitive ecosystems and biodiversity, air pollution and emissions (in particular CO2 and NOx). Real GHG benefits over the entire life cycle (now still controversial) should finally be proven. Deforestation and land erosion for oilseed crops (by slash-and-burn agriculture) should be avoided. Sustainability needs to take into account all potential impacts of biofuel processes, including the effects on deforestation, environmental degradation, soil quality, fuel security, competition with food production, import trade and costs of distribution. Meanwhile, modern plant breeding techniques and biotechnology can increase the productivity of currently cultivated land. Legitimate concerns about sustainability should not derail the biodiesel enterprise. Lessons learned from sustainable biofuel production could profitably also be extended to food production. Biodiesel made from recycled resources, such as waste cooking oil, is extremely sustainable and far better for the planet than petroleum and even some other types of biofuels.

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