Saving the Earth without Hurting the Poor

October 14, 2007

Ever-increasing carbon emissions and their impact on the earth’s climate are at the top of the international environmental agenda. What are the optimal ways to reduce these emissions? While government officials are pursuing a variety of options, biofuels have captured the imagination of policymakers worldwide, with proponents supporting a range of fuel sources—from corn to sugarcane to algae. But as the demand for biofuels grows larger, what will be the impact on the world’s poor? IFPRI has begun research on how to both meet the growing demand for agricultural products and the subsequent increased need for energy through an environmentally sustainable, pro-poor approach. Increased demand for corn—both for ethanol and as feed for livestock—is driving up prices and threatening food security in the developing world. Additionally, land degradation and water scarcity will increase as more biofuel crops are planted. What type of approach offers the best chance for satisfying the world’s appetite for energy without depleting environmental quality or the socioeconomic conditions of the world’s poor and hungry?
For more information on IFPRI’s bioenergy research, visit http://www.ifpri.org/themes/bioenergy/bioenergy.asp. For more general information on IFPRI’s work on the environment, visit http://www.ifpri.org/divs/eptd.htm 
To find out more about what you can do to help the environment on Blog Action Day (October 15), visit http://blogactionday.org/

  - Mark Rosegrant, Division Director, Environment and Production Technology, IFPRI