Douglas Auld, September 3 – The federal government’s decision to shut down the ecoEnergy program for biofuels is long overdue but does nothing to modify and substantially reduce existing biofuel subsidies that will cost the Federal treasury more than $1-billion by 2017. Add to that the myriad provincial biofuel subsidies and other forms of support, and the bill to taxpayers is staggering.
Canada is not alone in doling out large sums of public money for biofuels. Globally, in 2011 Canada, the United States, the European Union, China, India, Brazil and Australia, to name the major players, spent more than $40-billion on biofuel subsidies in the name of energy security, green house gas reductions and regional economic development. Since 2005 more than $100-billion worldwide has been allocated to biofuel programs with very little, if any, net improvement in reducing green house gas emissions.
In Europe, after years of subsidies and mandates, several countries are scaling back, albeit in a small way, their grandiose biofuel initiatives, particularly biodiesel production and consumption. The demand for feedstock oils from food and non-food plants, bushes and trees to feed the biodiesel thirst has imposed huge costs in terms of deforestation, land abuse and decreased water quality on those countries supplying the feedstock for biodiesel.