• Open Access

The ethics of biofuels


Joyce Tait, tel. +44 0 131 650 9174, fax +44 0 131 650 6399, e-mail: joyce.tait@ed.ac.uk


The rapid development and adoption of biofuels has been driven by a wide range of targets and other policy instruments, but first-generation biofuels have been widely criticized. In light of the development of new biofuel technologies that aim to avoid the problems of the past, the Nuffield Council on Bioethics conducted an 18-month inquiry on the ethical, social and policy issues raised by both current and future biofuels. The Council concludes that many biofuels policies fail to take consideration of important ethical principles, such as protecting human rights, environmental sustainability, climate change mitigation, just reward, and equitable distribution of costs and benefits. It proposes an overarching ethical standard for biofuels, enforced by a certification scheme for all biofuels produced in and imported into Europe and ideally worldwide.