When I heard from a friend that he was investing in Jatropha biofuels 2 years ago, I recommended him strongly to start reputation campaigning, because I anticipated what has happened in the meantime: the general debate on “biofuels causing hunger” has hit sustainable biofuels like Jatropha as well, and it is getting harder and harder to find investors. In the meantime, however, we have founded the international Jatropha Alliance which has the mission to achieve a balanced debate and create awareness for the fact that THERE ARE sustainable biofuels, which can even help to fight hunger AND climate change. The following is our latest publication:
Jatropha biofuel has potential to reduce hunger and to fight climate change
Biofuels are faced with heavy criticism, because most of them compete with food production and environmental protection. But there is hope. In its summer edition Biofuels Innovator highlights Jatropha as a sustainable alternative compared to first generation biofuels. The international Jatropha Alliance wants to stop the general demonization of biofuels and demands from politicians and NGOs a more differentiated discussion.
Sustainable production of biofuels means, that the social, ecological and economic need of the present have to be met without wasting resources of future generations. Jatropha projects have the potential to fulfill this demand as they offer triple bottom line investments with social, ecological and economic returns. The cultivation of Jatropha provides economic means for local communities to develop local economies.
With proper care, Jatropha grows on waste lands. Worldwide millions of hectares of relatively poor soil can be (re-)used to cultivate Jatropha, so that the issues of land competition and endangering natural habitats do not arise. In addition, Jatropha as a non-edible crop has no effect on food prices. Therefore Jatropha is one way out of the food vs. fuel debate. Although this is well-known, many politicians and NGOs keep demonizing biofuels in general, thus putting also Jatropha projects at risk. „We need to stop this now and start a differentiated discussion on biofuels vs. food. Otherwise sustainable projects, like Jatropha, will soon not find investors anymore “, says Thilo Zelt, president of the Jatropha Alliance.
Climate change is the main challenge of our time. Jatropha is a solution to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Especially the airline industry is very interested in using Jatropha based jet fuel to improve their carbon footprint.
In order to realize its full potential, one million hectares of Jatropha have to be planted every year. The Jatropha Industry is ready to prove the promising advantages of Jatropha. However, in times of economic crisis investors are reluctant to fund Jatropha projects, despite the high demand for Jatropha oil.
Biofuels Innovator stated that Jatropha is not a wonder crop, but it has significant advantages that need to be developed. The article is based on an interview with Thilo Zelt, president of the Jatropha Alliance. Founded by GEXSI, Green Power Ltd. and business campaigning Switzerland in 2008, the Alliance now represents the majority of important companies in the sector. Its aim is to promote the development of sustainable biofuels feedstocks and the build-up of the Jatropha industry.
This press release summarizes the key issues; the full article is available for download here.