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"The 10 per cent agri-fuels target has been seriously undermined"

by Luis de Sousa Mon Dec 8th, 2008 at 05:43:58 AM EST

That was said by Claude Turmes yesterday [Thursday 5/12] to the press, as negotiations over the New Energy Policy for Europe reached a new milestone towards agreement at the European Parliament.

The European Union agreed on Thursday a series of ways to promote green energy after resolving a long-running battle over biofuels.

front-paged by afew

Overall the major news is that negotiations are reaching safe harbour, for now there seems to be only an issue left to deal with:

But Italy would not drop its demand to review the legislation in 2014, preventing the European Union from signing off on a deal to get 20 percent of the bloc's energy from renewable sources by 2020.

"We have agreement on everything except the deletion of the review clause," the European Parliament's lead negotiator Claude Turmes told Reuters after closed-door talks that went on until the early hours.

Up to this point the main issue blocking an agreement were agro-fuels, it seems that at least some parliament members have an idea of how damaging this option can be:

Until Thursday, debate over biofuels had been deadlocked, holding back other measures to promote wind farms, solar power and energy from tides.

The European Commission proposed in January that 10 percent of road transport fuel should come from renewable sources by 2020. Much of that would come from biofuels, creating a large market that is coveted by exporters such as Brazil and Indonesia, as well as EU farming nations.

An interesting thing is that the discourse is now much more clear on how the agro-fuels target is to be met: with imports. At least no one seems to be fantasising about covering Germany with rapeseed.  But the idea is to stop importing an high EROEI energy and start importing a low EROEI energy that depends on the availability of the former. Is this what is called European Energy Security?

But unfortunately parliament members content themselves with little:

The stand-off over biofuels ended with an agreement that up to almost a third of the EU's 10 percent goal would be met not through biofuels but through electric cars and trains.

So instead of planting an area the size of Germany with agro-fuels, we are down to an area the size of Romania. Farmers of the world get your tractors ready.

Not only seems the Commission clueless about Net Energy and it's impacts on its Energy Policy, but so seems the Parliament. Another disheartening development of euro-policy, while the will to move away from finite energy sources is welcome, if overdue, the course of action taken starts to fail right at the strategic level, both on Energy Security as on Energy Availability.

Well, not all is bad, I find this particular section of the press report particularly brightening:

Countries will also be able to join forces on renewables, after pressure from Britain, Poland and Germany, which want to team up on EU projects, as well as Italy, which wants to tap into north Africa's large potential for solar power.

As long as this spirit of partnership remains and state members understand the augmented powers the Union provides them, I remain hopeful of an eventual favourable outcome away the energy quarry we drove ourselves into.

Finally a note on the news' last sentence:

The provisional deal will need approval by the European Parliament and all 27 European Union nations before becoming law, but is not expected to change much.

One doesn't need to read the name of the reporter to know he's from the Anglo-Saxon world. Of course he could be referring to the fact that fossil fuel depletion will take those 20% way from Europe anyway, but that's doubtful.

Thanks for covering this, Luis. Here is my latest from a month ago on this topic.

Disheartening indeed. Basically, the decisions were taken long ago and nothing will change them. We will import unsustainable fuels at prices determined by the oil market. Meanwhile, our own agriculture will take a major step towards becoming an entirely industrial activity. We will call these fuels green.

Green is one heck of a funny colour.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Dec 5th, 2008 at 07:57:45 AM EST
... your red-green, and your dirty grey green.

Obviously they are opting for the latter.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Dec 6th, 2008 at 05:48:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I share your sentiment, although I try to draw comfornt from the fact that it's an entirely short term solution. As fossil fuels die, they're gonna have to change everything anyway, this is just a postponement of making those decisions.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Dec 7th, 2008 at 11:00:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver: European Parliament capitulates on biofuel deal

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The policy tennis match between biofuels supporters and opponents in the European Union has all but drawn to a close, with the backers of the controversial fuel source securing almost complete victory.

Representatives of EU members states, the European Parliament and the European Commission this week came to a back-room agreement that supports the sourcing of 10 percent of the EU's road transport fuel from renewable forms of energy by 2020 - the same target figure originally proposed by the EU executive in January of this year.

When the proposal was first unveiled, most policymakers assumed that biofuels would make up all or most of the 10 percent figure.

But in the wake of reports from the World Bank through to the UN saying that in many cases biofuels produced more greenhouse gases than fossil fuels and threatened global food supplies, EU lawmakers were under pressure to slim down or abandon the biofuels element of the 10 percent renewable transport fuel target.

In particular, scientists warned that "indirect land-use change" - the creation of new farmland on previous grassland or forest to compensate for farmland lost to biofuels - would put the value of even the "cleanest" biofuels in doubt.

While many in the European Parliament had been convinced of the dangers, the commission and member states remained adamant that the target go ahead largely unchanged.

Under this week's tri-partite agreement, consideration of problems caused by indirect land-use change has been completely junked, apart from a caveat that the European Commission will come up with a report by 2010 on how to minimise this process.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 7th, 2008 at 01:10:00 PM EST

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