The Green Party has negotiated a very important amendment to the Biofuel Bill tabled in Parliament today to ensure production of the fuel does not impact food supply and the environment.
To qualify to meet the biofuel sales obligation, fuel will have to meet a sustainability standard, prescribed by Order in Council, showing that it does not impinge on food production or cause undue environmental harm.
"Biofuel could make a worthwhile contribution to New Zealand's efforts to reduce dependence on oil and to reduce carbon emissions," Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says.
"However not all biofuels are environmentally sound. The Green Party is totally opposed to the clearing of old growth tropical rainforest, the last refuge of many endangered species such as the orangutan, to plant oil palm trees for biodiesel, as is happening in South East Asia.
"We are also deeply concerned at the use of food grains such as corn to make ethanol. This is already forcing up the price of food in poor countries and will lead to even worse starvation in Africa.
Just last week the United Nations warned that international wheat prices had hit record highs during the past three months pushing the domestic price of bread and other basic foods in poor countries beyond the reach of many locals.
"In a competitive market, the motor vehicles of the developed countries will always be able to outbid the stomachs of the very poor," Ms Fitzsimons says.
"I am delighted that the New Zealand Government has agreed not to go down that path.
"In the end, there is a limit to how much one limited resource, oil, can be replaced by another, namely high quality food producing land. The most sustainable sources of biofuel in New Zealand will be first of all wastes or low value by-products, such as tallow and whey, and then second generation biofuel such as cellulosic ethanol from wood, which can be grown on second class land without extra water or nitrogen, or biodiesel from algae grown on sewage ponds," Ms Fitzsimons says.