Sir Richard Branson, president of Virgin Atlantic, along with the co-sponsors Boeing and GE Aviation, recently held a high profile event to demonstrate the world’s first biofuel flight.
Only one of the plane’s engines used biofuel, at a ratio of 1 part biofuel mixed with three parts kerosene jet fuel. The biofuel used — a combination of coconut and babassu (a Brazilian tree) oil, which Mr. Branson pretended to drink that day like an island cocktail from a coconut shell.
The environmental group Friends of the Earth was quick to criticize the Virgin event as a public relations stunt, restating its view that carbon savings from biofuels are negligible, and the now well-publicized position that growing crops for alternative fuels cuts into the land available to grow food. “There is a finite amount of land for food,” said Kate Horner, a climate and energy campaigner for Friends of the Earth, “and using it for the expanded production of fuel is driving deforestation, which accounts for one-fourth to one-third of our global emissions.”