By Mike Pepler, Ashden UK Awards Manager
It's been about five years now since biofuel production started to get serious, and right at the outset there were concerns about it taking away land from food production. Well, there's a story in the news in the past couple of days on this topic:
Of course the important thing is that now the link between food and fuel is there, it's not going to go away very easily. So if you were thinking "well I'm not making it worse as I just burn normal diesel/petrol" then think again - every litre of fuel burned represents demand, and as there's no scope to increase oil supplies now, new demand is going to be met through biofuels. We're all responsible, and we all need to use less liquid fuel for travelling. Besides, all petrol and diesel in the UK includes a small percentage of biofuels now anyway...
But it's not just demand for liquid fuels that's the problem. The historic (and continuing) burning of fossil fuels is having an indirect effect on food prices through climate change. Now I know you can't link a specific weather event to climate change, but the 'stuck' jet stream which we've heard so much about recently is possibly partly due to reduced ice cover in the Arctic. While this has been soaking us in the UK, in the US it has brought drought conditions:
Our 2012 Travel Award winners liftshare and Ghent City Council show that it is possible to radically transform people's behaviour and adopt new forms of travel that don't just cut the use of liquid fuel - they also help reduce congestion as well as saving people money.
Maybe we should follow their lead and start cycling or walkng a bit more?
[Photo: Achmad Rabin Taim]