Europe’s regulations intended to fight global warming with biofuels are likely making the problem worse, according to new research published Tuesday by Finland’s government research agency.
The new research found that European Union biofuel regulations “ignore uncertainties related to greenhouse gas calculation” and can even have their environmental benefits “counted as double” under certain circumstances.
Europe has been blending small percentages of biofuels into conventional gasoline and oil and diesel specifically to reduce CO2 emissions. The continent plans to require biofuels account for 10 percent of all fuel used by 2020. The EU’s CO2 emissions are estimated to have increased by 0.7 percent last year relative to 2014, even though the continent has spent an estimated $1.2 trillion financially supporting green and bio-energy with the goal of lowering CO2 emissions.
A study published in late April by an environmental group found that Europe’s biofuel regulations created 80 percent more carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions than the conventional oil they replaced. The report estimates the biofuels create new emissions equivalent to putting an extra 12 million cars on the road. The environmental group estimates that the European Union’s biofuel regulations will increase the continent’s CO2 emissions from transportation by almost four percent compared to conventional sources of oil.
Factoring the effects of biofuels on land use means that 75 percent of EU biofuels create more CO2 emissions than the gasoline or diesel they replace, according to a European Commission report published last August.
America also supports biofuels like ethanol via billions in subsidies and federal programs like Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires gasoline sold in the U.S. contain a certain amount of ethanol. America’s ethanol mandates cost motorists $10 billion annually in additional fuel costs, according to a study published in March 2015 by the Manhattan Institute.
The enormous taxpayer financial support for ethanol was justified to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil and to fight global warming, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Research has shown, however, that ethanol hasn’t helped the U.S. meet either goal.
The U.S. National Academy of Science is extremly skeptical of the environmental benefits of American biofuel production and has found that the programs “may be an ineffective policy for reducing global [greenhouse gas] emissions.”Additional research by the University of Minnesota found that America’s ethanol mandates were actually killing people because it deteriorates air quality, and other studies have shown ethanol can actually damage car engines.
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