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EU still far from agreeing biofuel standards

The European Union remains far from agreeing on how to tighten its rules for using biofuels, diplomats said on Wednesday amid growing opposition towards such forms of energy.

The EU committed last year to ramp up its use of biofuels in the coming years but has since had to consider ways to ensure their use does not have unintended consequences such as environmental damage and higher food prices. In a first discussion at the ambassador level, EU states were only “close to a consensus” on one point, an official with the bloc’s Slovenian presidency said. The bloc’s leaders committed to increase the EU’s renewable energy use by 20% by 2020, compared to 1990 levels, with biofuels slated to make up 10% of all transport fuels used by then.

The single point of emerging consensus was that biofuels should make greenhouse gas savings of 35% compared to oil from the expected entry into force of the regulations in 2009. However, member state opinions diverged on when the percentage should be increased, another EU diplomat said. Discussions are also underway about how to calculate the effectiveness of different biofuels, which is essential to determining whether they pass the 35% test.

Considered only months ago as a key tool for fighting climate change, the tide has rapidly shifted against biofuels, largely because the use of farmland to make them has been blamed of driving up soaring food prices. (The Economic Times)