EU biofuel threat grows

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BRUSSELS – Europe’s thirst for biofuels could have global repercussions, encouraging farmers to carve an area the size of Denmark out of wilderness and abandoned farmland, a European Union research report shows.
An area of 4,5 million hectares could be affected, according to an average of 15 computer modelling exercises in the European Union (EU) report, made public after Reuters invoked freedom of information laws. The worst-case scenario could be four times worse. If the extra farmland was gained by clearing wild land, it could result in a one-off release of at least 200 million tonnes of carbon – about the same as the annual fossil-fuel emissions of Germany.
The report, by a research centre in Ispra in Italy, is the EU’s most wide-ranging attempt yet to understand the complex interactions between biofuels, agriculture and climate change.
European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger has set some basic standards for biofuels sustainability and promised to act on any new evidence of a negative impact from changes in land use.
The bloc is trying to understand the negative impact of plans to obtain about 7 % of its transport fuels from biofuels by 2020, a move that could open up a market worth $17 billion a year.
— Reuters