According to the World Resources Institute, a non-partisan research organization, Western governments have made a big mistake in energy policy by supporting the large-scale conversion of plant matter into fuel and should reconsider the entire effort. The report makes the case that turning plant matter into liquid fuel or electricity is so inefficient that the approach is unlikely ever to supply a substantial fraction of global energy demand.
The Institute argues that continuing to pursue this strategy — for example, growing corn for ethanol — is likely to use up vast tracts of fertile land that could be devoted to helping feed the world’s growing population. “Many of the claims for biofuels have been dramatically exaggerated,” said Andrew Steer, president of the Institute. “There are other, more effective routes to get to a low-carbon world.”