Ethanol ‘can cause environmental crisis’

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The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) here on Thursday said the decision to use ethanol as fuel could result in severe food crisis and environmental hazards in the country.

Talking to ‘The News,’ PEW President Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that apart from energy, it takes 4-5 gallons of water to produce one gallon of ethanol. “Later water becomes toxic that results in an increase in the amount of greenhouse gases,” he said.

A high-powered committee, constituted by President Asif Ali Zardari, had recently held a meeting to explore ways and means for blending of ethanol for motor vehicles and bio-fuel technology. The PEW president said the country, already faced with food crisis, could not afford to use its food resources for ethanol production and in case the government continues to pursue the said policy, it would be difficult to avert a crisis in future.

Dr. Murtaza Mughal said the recent global food crisis is not a result of any calamities but that of the economic vision of the Bush administration that vigorously pushed the policy of using food as fuel. It is believed by many that the surging import bill on oil can be reduced through the promotion of this new initiative as a substitute for motor vehicle oil and can save foreign exchange worth an estimated $500 million.

The thought behind this decision was to minimise dependence on Arab fossil fuel, which backfired in the first year of its execution, Dr Murtaza said and added that the European Union (EU) also followed suit without considering the consequences that compounded the crisis.

According to some government officials, the rising cost of oil and low cost of ethanol and bio-fuel technology have created favourable economic conditions for fuel-ethanol production for vehicles.

They are of the view that the use and promotion of ethanol as a viable substitute and renewable source of energy for oil in motor vehicles is being used all over the world. Many rich nations escaped the situation owing to their buying power but the price was paid by the poor in Africa and Asia, he said.


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