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EU will demand sustainable biofuel production

EU will demand sustainable biofuel production

EU will demand sustainable biofuel production
May 24, 2007

The European Commission is planning new criteria to ensure that biofuels are produced in an environmentally-friendly manner, reports Reuters. The move comes a month after the Dutch issued voluntary guidelines for biofuel production.

“We want to define a minimum sustainability standard,” Paul Hodson, a European Commission official, told a conference in Brussels. “We want to say if you don’t meet the standards, you’re not eligible for state aid and it doesn’t count for the biofuel requirements.”

The EU has mandated that biofuels make up at least 10 percent of liquid fuels used in Europe by 2020.

Chart showing annual palm oil production by Malaysia and Indonesia from 1964-2006. Click to enlarge.

Hodson said that criteria for sustainability will likely include a minimum level of greenhouse gas emissions savings compared with fossil fuels and a requirement that biofuels not be produced in carbon rich ecosystems like peatlands in Indonesia or on lands of high biodiversity like virgin rainforest. The proposal is due in November.

The EU is said to be keen on a commodities accountability system presently under development by a Brazilian organization, Aliança da Terra, in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. The system would allow buyers to verify the source of agricultural products including soybeans and beef.

Recent enthusiasm for biofuels has been tempered by fears that they may drive large-scale deforestation and produce similar levels of emissions to fossil fuels. Environmentalists have cited palm oil production in Indonesian and Malaysia and soybean cultivation in the Amazon as significant drivers of recent forest conversion.

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