Wednesday, January 30, 2008

[PBN] Internal EU report casts doubts on its biofuel strategy


Jan 18, 2008

BRUSSELS (AFP) — An internal European Commission study, seen by AFP
Friday, criticises an EU plan to boost the use of biofuels in transport,
concluding that their costs outweigh the benefits.

A Commission spokesman downplayed the study and insisted that the use of
biofuels remained at the centre of its strategy to cut greenhouse gas
emissions in Europe.

The unpublished working paper by the Joint Research Centre, the European
Commission's in-house scientific body, makes uncomfortable reading for
the EU's executive body ahead of a meeting Wednesday where it is to
detail a plan for biofuels to make up 10 percent of all transport fuels
in the EU by 2020.

The cost-benefit study looks at whether using biofuels reduces
greenhouse gas emissions, improves security of supply and creates jobs
and delivers an unenthusiastic opinion on all three counts.

"What the cost-benefit analysis shows is that there are better ways to
achieve greenhouse gas savings and security of supply enhancements than
to produce biofuels," says the report.

"The costs of EU biofuels outweigh the benefits," the researchers state.

EU taxpayers would have to fork out an extra 33-65 billion euros (48-95
billion dollars) between now and 2020 if the European Commission
proposals go ahead, according to the study.

European Commission spokesman on energy Ferran Tarradellas Espuny
stressed that the study was just a working paper and one of several
opinions being taken into consideration as talks continued ahead of
Wednesday's decision.

But he made clear that that the 10 percent biofuels objective for
vehicles remained.

"Economically speaking there is only one option, that is biofuels," he
told a press conference.

"It is good for the environment, it is good for transport and it is good
for European agriculture".

On agriculture however the study warns that the proposed EU measures
will require the use of huge swathes of land outside of Europe and it
questions whether it will make any greenhouse gas savings at all.

Green groups warn that the EU plans could lead to forest clearances for
biofuels or for food crops displaced by biofuel plantations as farmers
switch over.

The report concludes that by using the same EU resources of money and
biomass, significantly greater greenhouse gas savings could be achieved
by imposing only an overall biomass-use target instead of a separate one
for transport.

"The uncertainties of the indirect greenhouse effects, much of which
would occur outside the EU, mean that it is impossible to say with
certainty that the net greenhous gas effects of the giofuels programme
would be positive," the study says.

Adrian Bebb, Agrofuels Campaign Coordinator for Friends of the Earth
Europe, called it "a damning verdict on the EU's policy for using biofuels."

"The conclusions are crystal clear -- the EU should abandon biofuels and
use its resources on real solutions to climate change," he said of the
leaked report.

The Commission's plans for biofuels are part of a broader energy
strategy to cut down on greenhouse gases to be unveiled on Wednesday.

EU leaders have pledged to increase renewable energy use by 20 percent
by 2020, compared to 1990 levels, with biofuels to make up 10 percent of
all transport fuels used by then.

Check for earlier Pacific Biofuel posts:

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