The Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels has gathered environmentalists, industry leaders, and university researchers to develop the first international standard for biofuel production, Worldwatch Institute reports.
The roundtable is the first large-scale effort to establish a international standard for biofuels. Similar efforts for specific fuel feedstocks such as palm oil, soybeans and sugar cane are already under way.
The guidelines require biofuel producers to consider the life cycle of their crops from plans for water management to enhancing soil health, minimizing air pollution and reducing GHG emissions from production over time.
The standards also emphasizes the use of marginal, degraded, or previously cleared land for growing biofuels.
However, critics say setting up such high standards may prevent meaningful advances in biofuel production. What’s more, there is a sea of standards being developed just as some leaders in the developing world are opposing the proposed international standards because they are concerned such guidelines would become trade barriers. But Worldwatch Institute’s Ben Block writes:
[E]nvironmental standards in other areas, such as those developed by the Forest Stewardship Council for wood products, the Marine Stewardship Council for seafood, and the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements for organic produce, have already saturated developing-country markets, so a new standard for biofuels may be no different.
The roundtable will be accepting comments on its standards through February 2009.