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EU proposes sustainable biofuels guidelines; "Protectionism!" cries World Growth

11/06/2010 (Biofuels Digest) In Brussels, the EU Energy Commissioner presented the EU’s proposed guidelines on sustainable biofuels. The package includes three primary principles:

1. Sustainable Biofuel Certificates: The Commission encourages industry, governments and NGOs to set up “voluntary schemes” to certify biofuel sustainability – and explains the standards these must meet to gain EU recognition.

2. Protecting untouched nature: The Communication explains that biofuels should not be made from raw materials from tropical forests or recently deforested areas, drained peatland, wetland or highly biodiverse areas – and how this should be assessed. It makes it clear that the conversion of a forest to a palm oil plantation would fall foul of the sustainability requirements.

3. Promote only biofuels with high greenhouse gas savings: The Communication reiterates that Member States have to meet binding, national targets for renewable energy and that only those biofuels with high greenhouse gas savings count for the national targets, explaining also how this is calculated. Biofuels must deliver greenhouse gas savings of at least 35% compared to fossil fuels, rising to 50% in 2017 and to 60%, for biofuels from new plants, in 2018.

Visionary policy, or ‘green protectionism’?

In Washington, the pro-development NGO World Growth underscored a growing body of research which shows palm oil is the most efficient vegetable oil for biofuel and rejected the mischaracterization that conversion of forests for palm oil leads to widespread increases in emissions.

Chairman Alan Oxley, former Ambassador to the GATT, issued the following statement: “No matter how the Commission tries to dress up its policy on biofuels, Brussels is denying to European consumers effective, low cost, and — in the case of palm-based biofuel — environmentally sustainable products. The root cause is reversion by the European Union to its timeworn practice of using protectionist measures to block agricultural imports and hinder production in developing countries.”


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