Mon Sep 11th, 2006 at 06:09:34 AM EST
This is typical how these things go...
In today's Breakfast, I posted a brief clipping on the REACH legislation, which is a work in progress in Brussels. It's an admirable project, and of absolutely nill importance right now.
Because, somehow, we ended up with the idea to write some e-mails to the Committee of Environment, Public Health and and Food Safety since they will table this Draft version with these amendments in their next meeting on 13/09. That is: coming Wednesday.
Why is this interesting for us? Because it is closely linked to ET's project, courageously managed by afew, to formulate a response on the EU policy on Biofuels.
The idea here is, in Migeru's words, to create a LTE-like diary and pitch in with comments to formulate a common position. Then we can sign it with boffin signatures, send it off, feel all important and have a beer.
So. This diary should evolve as the day progresses. Feel free to pitch in.
I've set up another Writeboard for those with itchy fingers to outline a first response:
Also: this is the man who drafted the text.
[Update]: This is the final draft of our letter, with mucho thanks to afew and migeru:
It has come to our attention that the Committee for Environment, Public Health and Food Safety will address the “Strategy on Biomass and Biofuels” at its meeting scheduled for September 13.
Using the committee’s website we have been able to read both the Draft Opinion as drafted by Mr. Aylward and amendments 1-39. We appreciate the direct communication with European citizens made possible by your website, and sincerely hope this will continue in the future.
While not fundamentally opposing the Suggestions presented in the Draft Opinion on a European Strategy for Biofuels, we would like to stress the following points :
* in the event of the introduction of mandatory targets for biofuel use, domestic first-generation biofuel feedstock production will have to compete with food production for arable land surface. Yields per hectare in the temperate zone are moderate, so considerable surface would be called for. (To take one example, the entire current EU production of rapeseed and sunflowerseed would not suffice to provide 5.75% of EU diesel fuel consumption, which is the non-mandatory target set by the EU for 2010.);
* it follows that, to meet targets, considerable imports would be necessary;
* from the point of view of independence and security of supply, importing biofuels is no better than importing oil;
* biofuels imported from tropical regions pose substantial sustainability problems (rainforest clearance, monoculture, in particular), and certification appears as somewhat of a figleaf. By massive buying on world markets, the EU would, in the aggregate, encourage unsustainable practices in parallel with certified production;
* it therefore seems that first-generation biofuels are not a “magic bullet”. The EU should rather aim at conducting research and development of second-generation biofuels as quickly as possible, since these offer the possibility of sustainable domestic production of biofuels on marginal land, respecting the triple objective of rural development, security of supply, and sustainability;
* promotion of biofuels should not act as a substitute for demand reduction. We support initiatives to strongly urge, if necessary oblige, the car industry to work urgently on reducing vehicle fuel consumption as well as GHG emissions.
More detailed calculations concerning the feasibility of the non-mandatory EU target were presented in our submission to the public consultation on the EU Biofuels Directive conducted by the Transport and Energy Directorate of the European Commission earlier this summer. A link to our submission is appended to this letter.
The European Tribune (www.eurotrib.com) is an open online forum for civic debate with a strong focus on European issues. We have no commercial or financial interest in biofuels, nor any link to a political party or movement. We feel that biofuels can play an important, yet relatively limited part in securing Europe’s energy for the future. We thank you for reading this contribution, and hope it may be of some use in your deliberations.