Is biofuel really green? Trees grown as fuel worsen air pollution and will kill 1,400 people a year by 2020, report finds
Biofuel testfield. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Wood used as a biofuel could make air pollution worse and cause almost 1,400 deaths a year in Europe, scientists have warned.
Trees grown as a biofuel have been seen as a greener, cleaner alternative to fossil fuels but could be having a detrimental effect on air quality.
According to a new report they release a chemical into the air that, when mixed with other pollutants, can damage human health and reduce crop yields.
‘Growing biofuels is thought to be a good thing because it reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,’ said Nick Hewitt, who worked on the study with colleagues from at Lancaster University.
‘What we're saying is “yes, that's great, but biofuels could also have a detrimental effect on air quality.
‘Large-scale production of biofuels in Europe would have small but significant effects on human mortality and crop yields.
‘As far as we know, no one has looked at the air quality of growing biofuel crops before.’
The report, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, looked into the impact of a European Union scheme to slow climate change by producing more biofuels.