UN calls for bioenergy standard

There is a "dire need" for policies to ensure the environmental impacts of bioenergy are minimised, according to a UN report.1

The report on sustainable bioenergy was written by inter-agency body UN-Energy and sponsored by the Food and Agriculture Organization. It puts the UN’s weight behind calls for international standards and certification for bioenergy and biofuels.

Policies also need to ensure bioenergy’s impacts on land, wildlife, water and air quality and soil are minimised, it says. These could be as simple as encouraging agricultural practices like crop rotation and double cropping.

The calls come as the EU is consulting on a standard for biofuels (see p 44 ).

The UN recognises that most biofuels produce "some reductions" in greenhouse gas emissions compared with conventional fuels. But using biomass for electricity and heat generation shows the greatest potential, it says. This is especially true when future impacts of biofuels on food supply are considered.

Biofuels will threaten food supply, by competing for land and water resources, and will increase commodity prices. As a priority, governments should consider the impact of biofuels policies, including subsidies, on food security.

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