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Biofuel Announcement Tokenistic And Minimalistic

Government’s Biofuel Announcement Today Is Tokenistic And Minimalistic

13 February, 2007

Today’s announcement by the government that it will require 3.4 per cent of the total fuel sold by oil companies to be biofuel is nothing short of tokenism, according to an international expert in the health impact of fossil fuels who is currently visiting New Zealand.

Associate Professor Ray Kearney, from the Department of Infectious Diseases and Immunology at The University of Sydney, is visiting New Zealand as a guest of the Tindall Foundation and Lanzatech - a privately owned company established to produce bio-ethanol for use as a transport fuel.

Dr Kearney says he is shocked at how weak the government has been in its biofuels sales obligation, announced today.

“3.4 per cent is an absolute pittance as a target. It needs to be 10 per cent to make any kind of difference whatsoever. The government talks about leading the rest of the world in biofuels but that’s simply ridiculous. New Zealand lags the world in comparison with countries such as Brazil, the USA and Canada. Brazil, for example, already has a minimum of 24 per cent bioethanol in its petrol.

“The government clearly has aligned itself with the polluters, primarily the oil companies. It talks about investing in the health of the country but does it recognise the impact fossil fuels have on the health of Kiwis?,” he says.

“It is well known by the experts in air quality and health that in Auckland alone, over 400 people die from pollutants in air. This equates to an annual cost well in excess of $1 billion.”

“This government simply does not have the health interests of the community at heart and shows a high degree of incompetance. I urge Kiwis concerned about this issue to use the ballot box to make their feeling known,” he says.

He says it is crucial that ethanol must be economically viable for its manufacturers otherwise there is no incentive to produce it.

“The government’s meagre 3.4 per cent target (or approximately 200 million litres) is far too small an amount in order to build an economically viable plant. An internationally accepted economically viable capacity is 150 million litres per year. After allowing for biodiesel manufacture of 120 million litres, the plant capacity for ethanol would be at best only half the economic size.

Stephen Tindall, from the Tindall Fondation, says: “We are pleased the government has committed to biofuels but we would prefer to have a higher target so the full benefits of biofuels can be realised far more quickly. ”

ENDS

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