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Cablegate: French Welcome Biofuels "Sustainability" Demarche

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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: In response to reftel, the Embassy has reached out
to French Government officials in the 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
its Presidency December 31. The Ministry of Economy hopes to
discuss this issue further in the Trans-Atlantic Economic Council
(TEC) in December. We had difficulty reaching the appropriate
officials in the Environment Ministry, but left the demarche with
subordinates. 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 Embassy Ag
office also forwarded 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 Wednesday, 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).


5. (SBU) Earlier in the week, the ESTH Counselor had reached out to
officials in the Ministry of Ecology, Environment, Sustainable
Development and Regional Planning (MEEDDAT), but was unable to
obtain an appointment with officials sufficiently senior to respond
authoritatively. We left talking points with MEEDDAT officials and
will follow up next week.

Stapleton

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