FAO wants global rules for biofuels

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation is pushing for a high level meeting next June to lay down rules for the international bioenergy market, which is currently regulated by domestic policies, according to the Financial Times. The FAO wants the European Union and the US to lower trade barriers to ethanol imports, establish a system for bioenergy environmental standards and give more micro credit to farmers in the developing world to help them jump on the biofuels bandwagon.

You need a subscription to the FT to read the whole thing, but Jacques Diouf, FAO Director general, says that these tariffs make it uneconomic for developing countries, with better climates and crops to use as biofuels, to sell those biofuels to the developed world. Removing or reducing those barriers could make a significant difference to the world’s agricultural poor.

He adds:

But as things now stand, the Inter­national Energy Agency (IEA) projects that in 2030, biofuels will provide between 4 per cent and 7 per cent of all fuels used for transport, with the US, the European Union and Brazil remaining the leading producers and consumers. If that proves correct, it will mean that we had a chance to honour all our solemn pledges to banish hunger and poverty but chose to look the other way.

Write me a comment and tell me if you think he is right.

, , , , , , , , ,

2 Responses to FAO wants global rules for biofuels

  1. Miles Perry 16 August, 2007 at 2:18 am #

    The argument pushed by the Sao Paulo sugar industry and Peter Mandelson (amongst others) is that crops like palm oil and sugar cane are cheaper in a free market and ceteris paribus have a better carbon balance.

    The worry with biotrade is starvation and deforestation in developing countries. But if the EU pursues a self-sufficient bioenergy policy, won’t the environmental dangers just be displaced to the increased imports in the food market?

  2. Biofuelsimon 16 August, 2007 at 1:06 pm #

    My guess is that not-necessarily, is the answer, because it needn’t be a zero sum game. There may be more winners than losers, especially if fertile but unprofitable land in places like Africa can be made to produce crops that would not previously have been produced (providing that we don’t damage biodiversity too badly).

Leave a Reply