photo by David Reverchon (source: Flickr Creative Commons)

I guess that learning on the job is better than not learning at all.

According to a piece in the New York Times, European countries may rethink their biofuel policies based on a newly completed study by the European Commission. The results of this study factor in the greenhouse gas emissions of land clearing – when land is deforested or converted from food agriculture to biofuel production. Hopefully the study also factors in slash and burn agriculture and other kinds of indirect ways which certain biofuels create greenhouse gas emissions in addition to what comes out of cars’ tailpipes.

European governments agreed in December 2008 that only biofuels that reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 35 percent compared with fossil fuels should qualify for meeting the trade bloc’s current goal.

–New York Times

The inclusion of indirect factors – known as I.L.U.C. (indirect land use change) –may rule out some biofuel crops produced in the European Union, but the article does not mention notoriously lousy biofuel sources such as palm oil, which is produced in Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia and Malaysia. Palm oil production is responsible for the destruction of rainforest and peatlands; threatens endangered species and valuable ecosystems; and has been embroiled in human rights issues.

Additional resources:

Bad Biofuel: Rainforest destruction gets green light at European pumps

Bad biofuel breakdown: Efforts to ‘Green up’ palm oil face too many blocks