On the Politics Show, Sunday 13 April 2008, Jon Sopel interviewed Adrian Ramsay, Greenparty Spokesman
JON SOPEL: I'm joined now by Adrian Ramsay, from the Green Party, thank you very much indeed for coming in to the Politics Show. Now no-one had advocated cutting down rainforest, but you oppose growing crops for any bio-fuels.
ADRIAN RAMSAY: Well cutting down the rain forests is happening and indeed there are already - happening in many parts of the developing world with food prices increasing, and that's only going to get worse as we see higher targets for bio-fuels in the UK and in other countries; it's just not the answer.
JON SOPEL: So, what, no biofuels at all?
ADRIAN RAMSAY: Well, certainly not on the large scale that we see happening at the moment. It's not an answer in terms of food prices, it will only see food prices go up as agricultural land is grown for fuel and rather than for food. But also, it's really not the answer on the carbon emissions either. It would take eight hundred and forty years, according to scientific research, to re-claim the carbon that will be lost from cutting down peat land forest, it's just not the right way forward.
JON SOPEL: And how much agricultural land is lost to biofuels at the moment.
ADRIAN RAMSAY: Well, the point is, how much would be lost, given the targets that are coming on Tuesday for 2.5% to be from bio-fuels and 5% from 2010
JON SOPEL: It's just the United Nations says, it is 1.5% of agricultural land has been lost to bio-fuels, you can blame all food rises simply on bio-fuels can you?
ADRIAN RAMSAY: Well, Gordon Brown and others have been saying that one of the reasons for increases in the prices of food across the world, is bio-fuels, but the point is, that will get much worse, if we see these targets coming in on Tuesday and future EU targets making the situation even more severe.
JON SOPEL: Wouldn't your position have a bit more credibility if you said, what we need, is better bio-fuels, not no bio-fuels.
ADRIAN RAMSAY: Well the idea of the second generation bio-fuels that have been muted are a long way off in terms of research and the targets are coming in now with the government I would say, being far too precipitous in bringing it in before the research has really happened.
JON SOPEL: But we heard in the film there from the renewal energy association, that a moratorium, I think their words would be an absolute disaster.
ADRIAN RAMSAY: Well, I don't think it would be a disaster, I think anything other than a moratorium would be a disaster in terms of the impact on food prices and on climate change. What we need to be doing is looking at the ways that we can reduce green house gas emissions, that we can have genuinely clean renewable energies from solar power, from wave power and so on, not bio-fuels which are really not a green answer at all.
JON SOPEL: So they have no part to play whatsoever.
ADRIAN RAMSAY: Not on the large scale that's being talked about, no. I mean if we see bio-fuels being produced on agricultural land within the UK, it's only going to mean that food is imported further distances, and that will add to carbon emissions and climate change even further. It's really not the right way forward.
JON SOPEL: But you're saying, you're linking it very clearly with food prices. The UN say that only 1.5% of agricultural land is being given over to bio-fuel, so the food price increases, and no one is denying that they're taking place, aren't just because of bio-fuels.
ADRIAN RAMSAY: Well, you can also read the letter that Gordon Brown wrote to the G8 and others in the last week, which highlighted this as one of the reasons. You don't have to just take my word for it. The point is, what will happen in the future as the targets become much worse, shouldn't we actually be reducing our requirements for fuel in the UK and elsewhere and shouldn't we actually be having more localized economy, rather than importing food from the developing world and really causing a major food problem by turning over agricultural land in the developing world for growing fuel for the West, that's surely not ethical.
JON SOPEL: Okay, let's just talk about the Green Party's prospects in the forthcoming local council elections. What would be a good result for you nationwide.
ADRIAN RAMSAY: Well, gains of course in many places. We have (interjection)
JON SOPEL: How many?
ADRIAN RAMSAY: (laughs) Well, (fluffs), tens of gains I would - would, would be clearly a step in the right direction, as we've seen in recent years. There are a number of councils where we've got a good chance of breaking through for the first time. There are a number of places where we're hoping to make further gains including where I am in Norwich, including in Stroud, in Oxford, in Liverpool and many different parts of the country, where Greens are making an impact as councillors on the grounds, and we know we can make more gains this year and have truly sustainable policies in local town and city halls.
JON SOPEL: Okay, Adrian Ramsay, thanks very much.
ADRIAN RAMSAY: Thank you very much.
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The Politics Show Sunday 13 April 2008 at 1400BST on BBC One.
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