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Cablegate: French View On Eu Biofuels Sustainability

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PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
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DE RUEHFR #1836/01 2771616
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P 031616Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4429
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 001836

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EUR Matthew Beh
STATE FOR OES EGC Drew Nelson

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KGHG EAGR SENV ENRG TRGY EUN
SUBJECT: FRENCH VIEW ON EU BIOFUELS SUSTAINABILITY

REF: SECSTATE 099217

1. (SBU) Summary. France continues to press to
conclude the climate and energy package before the
end of its EU presidency as a step towards
consolidating an EU position before the UNFCC Poznan
meeting in December 2008. France supports in
principle the biofuel targets in the current draft
of the EU climate change package, provided second-
generation biofuel technologies develop further. It
is also favorable to the Renewable Energy Directive
on limiting the indirect environmental impact of
biofuel production, but is aware of the difficulties
of implementation. France remains open to dialogue
but is non-committal on the use of science-based
sustainability criteria. End Summary

-----------------------------------------
Biofuel targets in EU Climate Change Bill
-----------------------------------------

2. (SBU) Per reftel, we discussed biofuel
sustainability issues with French Ministries of
Agriculture, Foreign Affairs, and Ecology, Energy
and Sustainable Development (MEEDDAT) officials and
with the French Agency for Environment and Energy
Management (ADEME) as well as the Institut Francais
du Petrole on September 29.

3. (SBU) In line with the European Council,
Parliament, and Commission, France supported the EU
objective of 10 percent use of renewable energies
including biofuels to satisfy road transport needs
by 2020. France's national target for biofuels
incorporation in transportation is 5.75 percent in
2008, 6.25 percent in 2009 and 7 percent in 2010.

4. (SBU) France agreed to the 10 percent road
transportation fuel (RTF) target from renewable
sources by 2020 (a fifth should be from biofuels) as
voted by the European Parliament's industrial
committee in September and approved by the
Commission as part of the draft climate package.
That measure also includes a revision clause
allowing for target reassessment in several years,
possibly 2015. France wants the option of
appraising second generation biofuel technologies
that, if available and sufficiently developed, would
increase the chances of achieving the 10 percent
goal by 2020. If the transition away from first
generation biofuels is not feasible, France agrees
the EU should consider cutting the renewables-in-
transport target to 5 percent, without specifying
how much should come from biofuels, renewable
electricity, or hydrogen.

5. (SBU) The head of MEEDDAT's Office for Petroleum
Industries and New Energy Products said that France
is feeling pressure regarding the large-scale use of
first generation crop-based biofuels, and their
impact on the fight against poverty, carbon
emissions and deforestation. Additionally, the
European Parliament has pushed EU governments toward
more alternative green technologies such as
electricity and hydrogen-powered vehicles and away
from biofuels. Reflecting this trend, France's
draft 2009 budget bill would reduce tax exemptions
for biofuels starting in 2009, with complete
elimination by 2012.

----------------------------------
EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED)
----------------------------------

6. (SBU) France supports the provisions of Article
15 of the RED which specify a 35 percent minimum
cut-off value for life-cycle GHG savings (increasing
to 50 percent in 2015) from biofuels over fossil
petrol and diesel in order to be eligible for
financial support, and to count toward compliance
with the Directive's renewable energy obligations
concerning national targets. This applies to third-
country imports as well. France agrees that other
criteria stipulated in Article 15 should be taken
into account in calculating the environmental impact
of biofuels, but is aware that this will be
difficult. Article 15.3 notes that no biofuels
should be made from raw material obtained on land
with high biodiversity value or high carbon stock.

PARIS 00001836 002 OF 002


These provisions are designed to limit the indirect
environmental impact of biofuel development and
fulfill requirements of EC Regulation 1782/2003
under the CAP.

7. (SBU) MinAg contacts say they want to ensure the
viability of the French biofuels producers and
industry. They hope that the Council's non-binding
position on Article 15 environmental and societal
criteria will prevail over the more rigorous
standards supported by the European Parliament. The
French confirm their intention of reaching an
agreement on the Renewable Energy Directive before
the end of the EU Presidency, but MinAg
interlocutors informally express doubts on the
feasibility of this goal in light of the tight
calendar.

8. (SBU) The MEEDDAT official noted that
sustainability criteria can be extended to ensure
biofuel production from non-EU supplier countries
does not run counter to EU general legal and
environmental practices in areas such as
deforestation, child labor, and safety and health
laws. France expects to release this year Part One
of its findings on national practices, methods, and
materials used in calculating baseline biofuel life-
cycle figures, and a complete national report by the
end of the first quarter of 2009.

---------------------------
Standards and Compatibility
---------------------------

9. (SBU) The Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) currently
under discussion also deals with renewable fuel.
The European Parliament and Council are working to
ensure the GHG criteria are the same in both FQD and
RED directives.

10. (SBU) Foreign Affairs and MEEDDAT officials
confirmed that France shares U.S. views on the
importance of ensuring that standards remain
compatible with existing bilateral and multilateral
agreements, and with the international certification
system. We underscored the importance of ongoing
U.S.-EU efforts in the Global Bio-Energy
Partnership, the usefulness of continuing
cooperation with EU scientific experts, and the need
for compatible science-based sustainability
criteria. This was also echoed in a September 25
meeting between U.S. Environment Protection Agency
and ADEME.

STAPLETON

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