A coalition of farmers, businesses, governments and nonprofits released the first draft of a biofuels global standard.
The Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB) created the set of principles that it hopes will guide worldwide production and processing for the controversial fuel that has recently come under fire because of environmental and food price concerns.
The group's maiden "Version Zero" lacks implementation guidance and indicators by which farms, producers and companies can be measured. It plans to take another six months to hold workshops and receive feedback before releasing Version One in April.
The draft doesn't delve into whether biofuels as a whole are sustainable, or the amount that can be used globally.
"Biofuels cannot replace all of our transport fuel consumption without significant changes in lifestyle and efficiency of use," the authors wrote. "We hope that these standards will be used in conjunction with new, sustainable consumption patterns for all the planet's energy needs."
The group warned that small producer may have a hard time complying with some criteria, leading to the need to balance aspirations with business realities.
RSB based the draft on work by the Forest Stewardship Council, Roundtable on Sustainable Pal Oil, the United Kingdom's Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership and the Sustainable Agriculture Network, among other initiatives.
The group said that biofuels production must:
- Be legal in the country in which it is produced
- Operate in ways that give voice to all stakeholders
- Help mitigate climate change by offering lower greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fossil fuels
- Not violate human rights or labor rights
- Benefit rural and social development
- Avoid negative impacts on ecosystems and biodiversity
- Improve soil
- Take advantage of surface water and groundwater use and stay in line with existing water rights
- Minimize air pollution
- Prove cost-effective
- Work within parameters of land rights