UK transport secretary Alistair Darling has revealed a new commitment to biofuels by setting a requirement that by 2010 all petrol sold in the UK will have to have 5% content coming from renewable sources.

According to the cabinet minister, the new obligation to bio-fuels would reduce CO2 gas emissions by one million tons a year, the equivalent of taking a million cars off the road.

This will help reduce the impact of transport on climate change, and bring environmental benefits for us all, Mr Darling said.

Environmental group Friends of the Earth welcomed the move but cautioned that increases in travel would offset the measures within five years. Meanwhile, other environmentalists have criticized the government, arguing the initiative would actually hasten the destruction of the world’s rainforests because the increase in biofuel crop cultivation would result in more rainforest clearance.

The UK Petroleum Industry Association has also met the policy with a lukewarm reaction. The association is worried that the cost of overseeing the project would force up prices, making biofuels less attractive to consumers. The petrol industry body said that its members were already moving in the right direction without government intervention.