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Gallagher Review Calls For Biofuels Use Slow Down

Department for Transport (UK)
Issued on behalf of Renewable Fuels Agency

Gallagher review calls for Biofuels use to slow down

The Renewable Fuels Agency's Gallagher review into the indirect effects of biofuels is released today (7 July). The review, led by RFA Chair Professor Ed Gallagher, examined the "indirect effects" of biofuels. Specifically whether biofuels cause greenhouse gas emissions and harm to biodiversity by contributing to land-use change and the effect of biofuel on food prices.

The key conclusions of the Gallagher review are as follows:

1. The introduction of biofuels should be slowed until effective controls are in place to prevent land use change and higher food prices.

2. There is a future for a sustainable biofuels industry but creating the policy right framework is challenging and will take time.

3. Current policies, if left unchecked, will reduce biodiversity and may even cause greenhouse gas emissions rather than savings. More caution and discrimination are needed in the feedstock used to produce biofuels.

4. Increasing demand for biofuels contributes to rising prices for some food commodities, notably oil seeds, that has a detrimental effect on the poor.

5. Biofuels production must target idle and marginal land, and the use of wastes and residues. This will avoid indirect land use change and reduce competition with food.

6. Specific incentives are needed to encourage advanced technologies that utilise feedstock grown on idle and marginal land

Professor Gallagher said, 'Our review makes clear that the risks of negative impacts from biofuels are real and significant, but it also lays out a path for a truly sustainable biofuels industry in the future. The RFA will move on from this review to build a new consensus on the use of biofuels, and lead the UK industry into a sustainable future.'

The review proposes that as part of the path to sustainable biofuels the rate of increase of the UK's biofuels target should be reduced to 0.5% per annum. Targets beyond 5% by volume should only be implemented beyond 2013/14 if biofuels are shown to be demonstrably sustainable, including avoiding indirect land-use change. These higher targets should include a specific obligation on companies to use advanced technologies.


The report can be downloaded from

The Renewable Fuels Agency (RFA), a Government Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB), is an independent regulator.

It was established on 26 October 2007 with the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) Order.

The RTFO applies across the whole of the UK. Refiners, importers and any others who supply more than 450,000 litres of fossil-based road transport fuel annually to the UK market are obligated by it.

The initial requirement is for 2.5% of the fuel supplied for road transport in 2008-9 to be biofuel. The RTFO order proposes that this should increase by 1.25% a year to 5% in 2010/11.

The Gallagher review proposes that the rate of increase in the RTFO should be reduced to 0.5% a year, bringing the target to 5% in 2013/14.

The Gallagher review recommends that to encourage the use of advanced technologies the EU should impose a specific obligation of 1-2% for biofuels that are produced from appropriate wastes and residues, on marginal land or without the need for agricultural land (e.g. from algae).

The Gallagher review found that, in the medium term, increased demand for biofuels would potentially have a small but negative impact on poor people. Shorter term impacts were likely to be more severe, and would require government intervention.

Professor Ed Gallagher is Chair of the RFA. He was previously the Chief Executive of the Environment Agency and National Rivers Authority, as well as the Manufacturing Director of Amersham International and the Director of Marketing and Product Development at Black and Decker. He has been the Chair of Energywatch since 2004, and was Governor and then Chair of Middlesex University from 1994-2004.

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