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Navigating our way out of the biofuels quagmire

The discussion about Europe’s biofuels policy is in full swing and the biofuels industry has assembled an impressive lobbying army to spread the gospel. Hardly a day goes by without the biofuels industry organising some event to promote the benefits of biodiesel and ethanol. This is a good indication of how important EU legislation is for biofuel producers. Indeed, growing crops and then turning them into fuels to burn in combustion engines is a costly and inefficient business. The truth is the biofuels industry was created and survives on generous and sustained support in the form of mandates, tax breaks and subsidies.

Published on October 3, 2017 - 23:00

What would Churchill do?

Coal or oil. That was the question facing ‘a young man in a hurry’ who had just been put in charge of the British navy. A century ago coal-powered steamships were the proven technology. On the other hand, there was a new technology: the internal combustion engine (ICE). Proponents of the ICE said it would be faster, healthier for the crew and operated by far fewer people which made it a lot cheaper to run. Of course it wasn’t a 100% proven technology. It was new. Would it always work? And would there be enough oil?

Published on July 2, 2018 - 20:05

Making palm oil a poster child for free trade would be a spectacular own goal

“As expected” mumbled Commission president Juncker when an aide passed him a note saying Trump had decided to impose tariffs on European steel and aluminium. The American administration had been playing with the Europeans for nearly two months but threats of retaliation, offers of new trade deals (TTIP light), and a grand visit from the French president had done nothing to dissuade US president Donald Trump.

Published on June 7, 2018 - 15:22

The human cost of the EU biofuels policy – Hernán Bedoya

Environmental destruction costs human lives too. On 8 December an NGO friend phoned me up with the shocking news that Colombian community leader and land claimant Hernán Bedoya had been assassinated, reportedly by paramilitary groups. It was a tragic reminder that campaigning to stop deforestation is as much about protecting the livelihoods and homes of the communities that have been living in those habitats for centuries as it is about combating climate change and protecting endangered species.

Published on January 10, 2018 - 23:23

Greetings from Planet Diesel

Last week I was in Munich for the so-called LKW-Gipfel; a summit of Europe’s truck industry executives. The Gipfel had an impressive line up. But before the CEOs of MAN, IVECO, Volvo and Scania delivered their keynotes, Matthias Wissmann, the German automotive industry’s (VDA) chief lobbyist, was given the stage.

Published on December 5, 2017 - 11:43

Heading for a repeat of past mistakes on biofuels?

People who have heard of the renewable energy directive (RED) often associate it with the overall renewables obligation for all sectors - the 20% target until 2020. On Tuesday 28th of November the industry, research and energy committee (ITRE), in charge of the file, will vote on a reform of the RED for the period after 2020. The European Commission proposed an EU target of at least 27% for 2030 and it seems that the ITRE committee will vote on a 35% target, but whether binding at national level or not remains to be seen.

Published on November 27, 2017 - 15:28

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