The Council has held a series of fact finding meetings with biofuels specialists as part of its inquiry into the ethical issues raised by new approaches to biofuels.

The first meeting was held in early March and was attended by scientists from universities and research institutes across the country including London, York, Exeter, Newcastle and Dundee.

Business representatives from BP, Carbon Trust, British Sugar, Green Biologics, E.ON and Cellana attended a second meeting which focussed on the commercial implications of biofuels.

A third meeting brought together representatives from major charities including Friends of the Earth, Action Aid, United Nations Environment Programme and WWF for an in depth discussion about the environmental, ecological and humanitarian impact of biofuels.


The key questions under debate included:
  • What are the main social and ethical issues associated with current biofuel production?

  • How could new approaches avoid these problems?

  • What are the main advantages and disadvantages of biofuel production for local use in developing countries?

  • Which new approaches to biofuels should be encouraged or discouraged?

  • What benefits should new approaches to biofuels aim to deliver and for whom? How should these be achieved if they are not already being brought about?

  • What kinds of technology developments are necessary for new approaches to biofuels to be successful?

  • Which new approaches to biofuels look most promising from an economic perspective?

The Council also held a public consultation on the ethics of biofuels from December 2009 to March 2010, during which 90 helpful contributions were received from a wide range of organisations and individuals.

A further fact finding meeting is planned with senior policy representatives from government, national and international institutions. Then, the Working Party will consider carefully the views and evidence it has gathered and a report with recommendations for policy and practice will be published in winter 2010/11.