While BP cuts investment into wind and solar, the company is pumping billions into controversial biofuels. The company is apparently planning to invest €4 billion euros into sugar cane ethanol production in Brazil. The company’s first ethanol refinery started production last year and a second is planned.
Rainforest Rescue in Germany have criticised the plan for requiring vast plantations which are destroying Brazil’s Cerrado savannah and threatens rainforests.
“BP has just acquired the Brazilian company Tropical Bioenergia in the state of Goiás, southwest of the capital Brasilia. The companies activities are located in the heart of the Cerrado, the world’s most biodiverse savannah. Sugar cane plantations are mushrooming across Goiás, mostly at the expense of food production. This pushes the agricultural frontier, particularly cattle ranching and soya production, further north into the Cerrado and into rainforests. Already, sugar cane plantations cover 458,000 hectares of land in Goiás. Some 60,000 hectares of those supply BP’s ethanol refineries. No end of this displacement is in sight.”
BP has heavily lobbying for more sugar cane expansion in Brazil, for European tariffs on Brazilian ethanol to be scrapped and for government targets for agrofuels consumption in the US, EU and the UK.
“In the UK, BP was able to shape biofuel legislation, the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation, which mandates biofuel blending into all road transport fuel. BP is also at the forefront of the push for agrofuels for aviation.”
A recent book published by Oxfam in Brazil with the Heinrich Boell Foundation is more sympathetic to ethanol production than biodiesel, but still argues that
“The issue of greatest contention, perhaps, relates to the indirect effects of the huge projected expansion of sugar-cane ethanol production, particularly the relocation of soy production and cattle raising from the Centre-South to new frontier lands releasing carbon emissions and putting pressure on sensitive biomes.”