Industry leaders say yes to biofuels

Monday, 30 January, 2006

The federal government and the four major car manufacturers have made recent announcements to actively support and encourage a biofuels industry in Australia.

"Cities are where most energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions occur and reduction of these factors will help achieve more sustainable transport," Ken Dobinson, project director of The Warren Centre's Sustainable Transport in Sustainable Cities, said.

Considering that in 2003, 13% of Australia's net greenhouse gas emissions came from road transport, major companies should be encouraged to increase the uptake of fuels that result in fewer carbon dioxide emissions.

"Adoption of biofuels, where manufacture can demonstrate whole life environment-al benefits, is a simple, practical step that motorists can take today to reduce the greenhouse and air pollution emissions from their driving," said Ian Kiernan, chairman of Clean Up Australia, who was present at the announcements.

"This, coupled with the announcement by automakers Toyota, Mitsubishi, Ford and Holden that they will be introducing E 10 compatibility labels on their new vehicles, will go a long way to boosting consumer confidence," said Kiernan.

But while this might seem to be a simple action, Kiernan warned that production of biofuels needs to be carefully monitored.

"From tillage of raw materials through to combustion, all the environmental impacts including the complete suite of input energy source must be considered in order to calculate the relative greenhouse gas output of each fuel type," he concluded.

"This will entail monitoring manufacturers to ensure they maintain stringent production standards.

"For example, the blending of biofuels with traditional petrol and diesel is an option that must only be done at the refinery."

The Warren Centre's own studies show that it is important for federal government to take a broader economic view on transport energy consumption and greenhouse emissions.

"The federal government should be looking to tax incentives that encourage alternative vehicle types such as hybrid cars, and use of public transport, rather than the regime that encourages increased car use for business," said Dobinson.

"Armed with these incentives, fleet managers will be in a better position to use their purchasing power to exert business-based economic influence on the market, leading by example and adopting biofuel contracts."

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