EC defends aggressive biofuels policy

13 September 2007 12:44  [Source: ICIS news]

PARIS (ICIS news)--Biofuels are beneficial for the environment and will cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, said the European Commission (EC) on Thursday.


The EC was responding to a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that questioned the benefits of biofuels.


In a robust defence of biofuels, EC agriculture spokesman Michael Mann said: “It is absolutely the case that fuel from agricultural raw materials produces less carbon dioxide (CO2) than fossil fuels.”


The EC agreed earlier this year that 10% of the EU’s transport fuel will be provided by biofuels by 2020 and will publish a report later this year outlining how it plans to reach this target.


“We are confident our biofuels policy is positive for the environment,” Mann said.


The OECD argued in a report published on Wednesday that the rush to increase production of biofuels could threaten food shortages, damage biodiversity and have questionable energy benefits.


The report: “Biofuels; is the cure worse than the disease?” also claimed that conventional biofuels production technologies only deliver greenhouse gas emission reductions of less than 40% compared with fossil fuels. 


“When such impacts as soil acidification, fertilizer use, biodiversity loss and toxicity of agricultural pesticides are taken into account, the overall environmental impacts of ethanol and biodiesel can very easily exceed those of petrol and mineral diesel,” the study said.


Mann said that second-generation biofuel technologies, such as cellulosic ethanol, could bring even greater benefits for the environment, but the OECD argued that the successful development and commercialisation of such technologies continued to be a distant possibility.

By: Philippa Jones
+44 20 8652 3214

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