A significant proportion of the petrol and diesel which British drivers put into their cars comes from biofuels – these include vegetable oils from plants such as oilseed rape, wheat and sugar beet. The UK biofuel industry is an industry supplying 293 million litres in 2020.
A new report by thinktank Green Alliance has said ending biofuel use in the UK would free up space to grow food for 3.5 million people. The huge area of land used to grow crops which go to be vehicle fuel could return to food production instead. Plant biomass production uses nearly three-quarters as much land as the entire UK potato industry and is a “strong factor” in rising food prices in the UK due to increased competition for land.
Biofuels have previously been touted as a solution to the climate crisis, but the analysis said their emission-cutting impact "has proven minimal, and in some cases, even worse than fossil fuels". This is because burning biomass still produces greenhouse emissions in much the same way burning fossil fuels does. This is on top of the stored carbon released into the atmosphere when land is repurposed for biofuel production.
Almuth Ernsting, co-director of campaign group BiofuelWatch said, "Ending the use of food to make biofuels would immediately relieve food prices and protect millions from going without enough food..."