The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law series
Edited by Yves Le Bouthillier, Annette Cowie, Paul Martin and Heather McLeod-Kilmurray
Chapter 12: Biofuels, GMOs and food security: the South African legal and policy framework
With oil peak and climate change, dependence on fossil fuels in South Africa (SA) is a strategic concern with respect to oil imports, in particular for fuel transport. In 2005, 36% of the energy demand in SA was met by local coal and natural gas, while imported crude oil met the remaining 64%. Since 1998, to respond to growing energy demand for transport fuel and electricity generation, biofuels have been part of the country’s renewable energy package. While biofuels are beneficial for alternative transport fuels, electricity generation and other uses because they reduce dependence on oil, there is a need for a careful weighing of benefits and detriments. Millions of tons of biomass are needed to replace a significant proportion of the fossil fuel used in transport. The savings of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through fossil fuels replacement may not be greater than the emissions that are generated when biofuels are produced. For biofuels to be sustainable as a less carbon-intensive replacement for petroleum products, it needs to adopt a sustainable management approach to biodiversity and natural resources throughout the value chain. Biofuels is one among many other renewable energy sources and should be measured against other renewable energy sources to improve energy security and promote rural development.
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