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Cablegate: French Welcome Biofuels "Sustainability" Demarche

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P 030739Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4948
INFO RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE
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RUCNMUC/EU CANDIDATE STATES COLLECTIVE

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TAGS: KGHG EAGR SENV ENRG TRGY EUN EU FR
SUBJECT: FRENCH WELCOME BIOFUELS "SUSTAINABILITY" DEMARCHE

REF: State 123492

1. (SBU) Summary: Embassy delivered reftel points to French
Ministries of Agriculture, Economy and Environment. The Agriculture
Ministry told us that the EU is still discussing the biofuels
sustainability and criteria issue, and that they still hope to
resolve the issue by the end of the French Presidency. The Ministry
of Economy hopes to discuss this issue further in the Transatlantic
Economic Council (TEC) in December. EMIN also raised the issue with
Ministry of Economy Undersecretary Jean-Cristophe Donnellier,
stressing trade and WTO aspects to France's 133 Committee rep. End
summary.

2. (SBU) On Thursday, November 20 Jean-Yves Cortey, head of the
Biomass Office, General Directorate for Agricultural Food and
Regional Policies, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAP) told
the Agricultural Minister-Counselor that MAP welcomes the demarche
and will consider its points. On Friday, November 21 the FAS
delivered the demarche to senior advisors to MAP Minister Barnier.


3. (SBU) Speaking of the EU Directive, Cortey explained MAP's main
concern is the Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) criteria. An initial
EU draft provided that, if the EC Commission failed to develop ILUC
methodology by 2012, then the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) ration for
biofuel from crops (including corn ethanol) would be reduced, i.e.,
penalized, vis-`-vis other renewable fuel sources. France now
supports wording that "the Commission must propose a methodology to
calculate ILUC by 2012," without mentioning a penalty, in order to
protect the EU biofuel infant industry.

4. (SBU) On November 26, Elie Beauroy of the Ministry of Economics,
Finance and Industry's Treasury and Economic Policy Bureau told
Econoff and ESTH Counselor that the French are focusing on the
direct effects of biofuels, while the indirect effects will be
noted, but not binding. The Commission will provide reports on the
impact of biofuel production on food prices, land use, and working
conditions in exporting countries. Science-based sustainability
criteria will be applied mostly to first generation biofuels
provided their production is not on land with high biodiversity
value or high carbon stock. The European directive includes a "life
cycle" methodology for measuring the percentage of emissions
reductions sought from biofuels. However, U.S. corn ethanol is still
excluded at this stage. Beauroy suggested discussing this issue in
the next TEC meeting scheduled for December. He was non-committal
on extending by a year the implementation of the Energy and Climate
legislative package. At Beauroy's request, we emailed the text of
the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA).


Stapleton

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