It’s a catch-22 born of the modern world’s good intentions.
In an attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we are using more agriculture-based biofuels. But diverting crops from food production has created food shortages, soaring prices and a potential crisis in third-world countries.
Ian Bruce, a policy analyst for climate change at the David Suzuki Foundation in Vancouver, said people don’t realize all biofuels are not the same.
Some, like those produced from corn, not only compete with food production, but also have negligible environmental benefit.
“It almost takes more energy to produce and harvest the corn than the energy it displaces from fossil fuels,” he said.
But switchgrass, for example, grows on land not suitable for agriculture and can be used to produce biofuels that bring down greenhouse gas emissions. Woodwaste, he said, is another viable option.
“There’s a whole suite of solutions we could use to fight global warming, but biofuels (only) play part of that role,” he said. “Transportation emissions are the largest source of emissions in British Columbia and ... in order to reduce (them) we really have to improve public transit.
“Another area is improving the fuel efficiency of our vehicles.”