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Cablegate: Spain Skeptical of Eu Biofuels Sustainability

VZCZCXYZ0001
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMD #1047 2770953
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 030953Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY MADRID
TO RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0643
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5394

UNCLAS MADRID 001047

SIPDIS

USDA EXEC PASS RURAL DEVELOPMENT/DORR, HEFFERNAN, STACEY;
USDA FAS FOR OCRA/SALMON, SEIDBAND; OSTA/MACKE; OFSO/YOUNG;
BRUSSELS PASS AG MINISTER COUNSELOR
BERLIN PASS AG COUNSELOR
STATE FOR EEB/ESC/IEC

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR SENV ENRG TRGY KGHG SP
SUBJECT: SPAIN SKEPTICAL OF EU BIOFUELS SUSTAINABILITY
CRITERIA UNDER DISCUSSION

REF: A. SECSTATE 99217
B. SECSTATE 98110
C. USEU BRUSSELS 1439

1. (U) SUMMARY: Spain is skeptical of the sustainability
criteria under discussion in the EU. Spanish officials
attending EU discussions on these criteria said that as
drafted they are not based on sound economic and scientific
models and that they would discriminate against biomass and
biofuel relative to other energy sources such as coal and
oil. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) On September 29, USDA Under Secretary for Rural
Development, Thomas C. Dorr, met with Mr. Enrique Jimenez the
Director General of Spain's Energy Diversification and
Conservation Institute (IDAE) within the Ministry of
Industry, Tourism and Trade while U/S Dorr was in Spain to
speak at the EU-US Business Energy Roundtable held in Madrid.
Mr. Carlos A. Fernandez, Head of Biofuels, IDAE, Hugo Lucas,
Head of International Relations, IDAE, and K. Snipes, Acting
Ag Couns, also attended the meeting. U/S Dorr presented U.S.
concerns regarding the sustainability discussion. Director
General Jimenez responded that Spain shared many of our
concerns and asked to have his staff who attend the relevant
meetings in Brussels on biofuels and sustainability criteria
present their views.

3. (SBU) Mr. Lucas said that Spain believed the current
discussion was taking place without the necessary analysis of
the effects of such criteria on land use and biomass and
biofuel production and felt that more analysis was needed
before any such standards were implemented. U/S Dorr
responded that the USDA was working with Iowa State
University on such studies and we would share the information
with Spain. Mr. Lucas added that such criteria targeted only
at biofuels and biomass would discriminate against the
renewable energy sector as compared to other energy sources
such as coal and oil.

4. (U) Mr. Fernandez hoped that the United States and Spain
could collaborate on future analysis regarding land use and
biofuels. U/S Dorr agreed and asked Acting Ag Counselor to
follow up on future cooperation with the IDAE.

5. (SBU) Also on September 29 Under Secretary of State Paula
Dobriansky and USDA Under Secretary Dorr met with Teresa
Ribera, Secretary of State for Climate Change, Spanish
Ministry of Environment, Rural Development and Marine
Affairs, primarily to discuss climate change. U/S Dorr
expressed concern about the EU biofuels sustainability
criteria proposed by France. He said these criteria would be
suspect if, like EU actions on agricultural biotechnology,
they were not science-based. Ribera acknowledged the value
of biofuels but added in her view they were a transitional
technology and would not provide a long-term solution as fuel
for transport. (Comment: In previous meetings Ribera
stressed her vision of a future with electric vehicles. End
comment.)

6. (SBU) Comment: All three Spanish officials from IDAE
believed that the sustainability criteria agenda was being
pushed through by political interests in Europe beholden to
the environmental or green parties. They felt that once the
French Presidency of the EU passes at the end of 2008, more
clear thinking would prevail. They look forward to Spain's
EU Presidency which will be January - June 2010. Secretary of
State for Climate Change Ribera said little about the
specifics of the sustainability criteria and is less involved
with Spain's policy making on these issues. End Comment.
KELLER

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