Converting land for biofuels could actually worsen the problem of global warming by creating major carbon emissions, a report has warned today.
Biofuel is considered by some to provide a viable alternative to fossil fuels that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
But a new study from Nature Conservancy, published in the journal Science, says the carbon 'saved' by using biofuels instead of fossil fuels does not outweigh the carbon lost by converting forests, grasslands and peatlands.
"These natural areas store a lot of carbon, so converting them to croplands results in tons of carbon emitted into the atmosphere," said lead author Joe Fargione, a scientist at the Nature Conservancy.
"We analysed all the benefits of using biofuels as alternatives to oil, but we found that the benefits fall far short of the carbon losses.
The researchers argue that all fuels need to be fully evaluated for their impacts on global warming, including impacts on habitat conversion.
"In finding solutions to climate change, we must ensure that the cure is not worse than the disease," said Jimmie Powell, who leads the energy team at The Nature Conservancy.
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