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Volume 459: debated on Monday 30 April 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will estimate the carbon savings resulting from the growing of biofuels on land which had previously been (a) used to grow food crops and (b) set aside or unused; and if he will make a statement. (132773)

The Government have funded a number of studies to consider environmental impacts and benefits of biofuels, including Life Cycle Assessments. Carbon savings vary depending on a number of factors including the crop used and the way it is cultivated, previous land use, the transport used and the processing and conversion process.

A DEFRA-funded project is currently under way to develop a software tool to address the main environmental issues associated with bio-energy technologies. This will include a quantitative assessment of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission savings by using a land use reference system which includes “set-aside” and “food cropland”. The tool will be available later this year.

The Government are also developing a comprehensive carbon and sustainability reporting scheme under the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation. This will require suppliers wishing to claim credits for their biofuels to provide information on the GHG saving and wider sustainability characteristics of those fuels. The GHG calculation methodology includes previous land use in addition to emissions from cultivation, transportation and processing and conversion.