Clean Fuel – climate solution or environmental disaster?
Ottawa, February 24 – Friends of the Earth Canada is raising serious questions about the environmental implications of the proposed federal “Clean Fuel Standard”. In a discussion paper the group released today, they identify significant gaps in the scientific knowledge needed before deciding to increase the amount of biofuel produced in Canada.
“Greenhouse gas reductions are critically important and we support a Clean Fuel Standard that delivers this, but there could be many other potential unintended environmental impacts from expanding the use of agricultural crops, waste and other more exotic sources to produce biofuel,” said Beatrice Olivastri, CEO, Friends of the Earth Canada.
The Clean Fuel Standard will be applied to gasoline, natural gas, heating oil and other fossil fuels. The goal is a moderate reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Fuel suppliers will have to reduce the lifecycle emissions from fuels which include emissions from production, processing, transportation and use.
Friends of the Earth is concerned that an inadequately designed Clean Fuel Standard might become a cosmetic exercise that merely “sanitizes” the image of the oil industry and, therefore, prolongs the use of fossil fuels for transportation and heating uses rather than supporting a just transition off fossil fuels.
Further, Friends of the Earth believes greenhouse gas emission reductions cannot be the sole determinate of “clean” fuels. Rather, a “clean” fuel definition must address all emissions and other environmental factors associated with the growing or extraction, refining, transportation and combustion of fuel. This should include, though not be limited to, air emissions, land use implications, increased nutrient use and run-of, the prevalence of pesticide applications, impacts on water, uncertain ecosystem health and biodiversity implications and consideration of societal benefits.
“The Clean Fuel Standard for Canada could be an important first step in reducing Canadian’s reliance on carbon intensive fuels for transportation and heating and an important part of Canada’s plan to meet its commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” says Olivastri . “However, there’s a lot of scientific data missing in action.”
Friends of the Earth plans to contribute to the Consultation through publishing its discussion paper and petition the Auditor General with the intention of helping build an inclusive and transparent ‘science evidence base’ that will provide the basis for decisions on policy and practice.
For more information, contact:
Beatrice Olivastri, CEO, Friends of the Earth Canada, 613 724 8690 or Beatrice(a)foecanada.org