Road fuel sold in the UK must contain 2.5% of renewable fuels. This is set to increase to 5% by 2010.
The EU has set a conditional target of 10% for biofuel content in petrol and diesel by 2020.
The UK and EU support only sustainably sourced biofuel. However, there is no internationally agreed definition of 'sustainable biofuel', nor a binding working standard.
The UK Governments believes biofuels offer significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions compared with fossil fuels and help to address climate change. But scientific evidence suggests it’s not so clear cut.
Biofuels’ value in combating climate change depends on what was or would be growing in its place; the type of feedstock (a range of crops including oilseeds, wheat and sugar); agricultural practices; and how much fossil fuel is used to grow, transport and process it.
The largest impact is land-use change, through deforestation as agricultural areas are expanded or as land is diverted from food crops. Other environmental effects on land and water resources or biodiversity, for example, also depend on land-use changes.
The latest State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA) report, 'Biofuels: prospects, risks and opportunities', says that demand for agricultural feedstocks for liquid biofuels is having a significant effect on agricultural markets. Rapidly growing demand for biofuel feedstocks has seen land-use changes that lead directly to higher food prices, threatening the food security of poor people in urban and rural areas.