IEA Releases Statement on Biofuels
2 May 2008: The International Energy Agency (IEA) released a statement on biofuels, in which it raises questions regarding a surge in food prices and biofuels and notes a number of important factors impacting food supplies and prices, including surging food demand, failed harvests and high energy prices.
The IEA says “first generation” biofuels, such as ethanol from grains and biodiesel from seeds, may compete with food production, but notes that less than 2% of global agricultural cropland is used for biofuels production. The IEA also notes that sustainable biofuels can increase energy security, foster economic development, especially in rural areas, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The statement highlights the potential of “second generation” biofuels from ligno-cellulosic feedstocks, while noting their higher cost to date. The statement calls on governments to increase their support for research, development and demonstration of “second generation” biofuels, to consider phasing out current incentive support schemes for biofuel technologies as they reach maturity, and to explore a rapid transition to policies that promote advanced biofuels.