In the shadow of the oil spill 2

06/08/2010 / Kaj

Since my last blog, I have received many e-mails asking me to translate the Swedish figures showing that bioenergy is bigger than the oil sector as an energy provider to Swedish society – which gives a positive signal to minimise the dependency on fossil fuel.
If you read the statistics below you will it all in spelt out in English!

As I write, more data is emerging from the IAE which spells out the economic case for ending fossil fuel subsidies since governments are seeking to cut their deficits. In developing countries, these subsidies amounted to $557bn (€464) in 2008, according to the IEA. By comparison, last year, governments worldwide provided a feeble $43-46bn (€32-€35bn) for the development of all renewable energy sources (including biofuels), according to a preliminary analysis published by Bloomberg New Energy Finance last week.

As l live close to the Baltic Sea, many of my discussion are connected to the situation in the Mexican Gulf area. Marine and coastal eco-systems (and local economies) are threatened from oil spills, and agricultural and urban pollution originating upstream around both the Baltic Sea and the Mexican Gulf. This year the Baltic has suffered from the biggest algal growth ever recorded – and, to make matters worse, over here it is a toxic species that predominates.

Similarly, huge quantities of nitrates are discharged yearly into the Mississippi – and then into The Gulf – some1,5 million tonnes, from fertilizer, urban runoff and sewage plants. When the algae decompose, oxygen in the water is reduced so significantly that little life can exist.
So, the expansion of (heavily subsidised) corn for ethanol or other crops for so-called “alternative” fuel can not be considered a sustainable solution, as their advocates (usually agribusiness interests) like to claim.

Why on earth are governments pumping tax-payers’ money into such foolish expansion of business-as-usual activities. It makes little sense – economically, environmentally or socially – particularly when you consider how much better such money could be spent in simultaneously addressing the inter-linked problems caused by conventional agriculture, energy and waste management industries. This is an issue that must be addressed by both local and national governments in the USA, Sweden and other parts of the world where similar problems arise. The solutions are known – they should be implemented now.

Sources: SVEBIO – Swedish Bioenergy association

Sources: SVEBIO – Swedish Bioenergy association


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