Bethune claims UK politicians are "spineless" in face of oil industry

Pete Bethune, skipper of round-the-world bio-boat Earthrace, has slammed the British Government for not doing enough to promote biofuels and being “spineless” in the face of the oil industry.

In an interview with MBM, the New Zealander said: “Governments have a role to legislate to make biofuels happen. If it were up to market forces, biofuels wouldn’t happen at all.

“But politicians in the UK have been pretty spineless and are unprepared to stand up to the oil industry. They need to be more supportive of the biofuels industry and make sure the production of biofuels here in sustainable.”

Bethune, whose attempt last year to break the round-the-world speed record ended in failure after a series of setbacks, including the death of a fisherman off Guatemala, will launch another attempt on the record in March 2008.

Apart from a desire to see the boat in the record books, the main goal of Earthrace is to “increase awareness of the environment and the sustainable use of resources”. The boat will run on 100% biodiesel, and will end the attempt with a net zero-carbon footprint, Bethune said.

But it was the subject of the British Government’s policy towards sustainable fuels that really raised the ire of the 41-year-old Bethune.

“The UK is one of the worst countries in Western Europe for biofuels. There’s a lack of backbone and foresight.”

He added that a shift to more sustainable fuels for boats was essential as “in 10 years, there will be a different concept of what society will tolerate. And this will have an impact on the boating industry.”

“I believe people will start having a huge problem with what others are consuming.”

For more on Earthrace, and Bethune’s renewed attempt on the record, visit www.earthrace.net .

And you can also see a feature on how to brew your own biodiesel in February’s MBM.