The Environmental Protection Agency is hosting a public hearing on December 5 to hear from industry leaders on the agency’s proposed renewable fuel standards for 2014. I will be testifying on behalf of Brazilian sugarcane producers, and here’s an advance look at what I will say:
Good morning. My name is Leticia Phillips, and I am the North American Representative for the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA). UNICA is the leading trade association for the sugarcane industry in Brazil, representing 60 percent of the country’s sugarcane production and processing.
Sugarcane ethanol production uses only 1.5 percent of Brazil’s arable land, reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 90 percent on average, compared to conventional gasoline, and helps move beyond fossil fuels.
For over six years, the Brazilian sugarcane industry has worked collaboratively with EPA and the U.S. renewable fuel industry. Since the beginning of the RFS program, EPA had been a strong supporter of the modest but important role Brazilian sugarcane ethanol plays supplying Americans with sustainable fuel.
In 2010, the agency certified that Brazilian sugarcane ethanol cuts carbon dioxide emissions by more than 60 percent and designated it as an advanced renewable fuel. Following congressional intent, EPA has encouraged advanced biofuels because they are the category of renewable fuel with the greatest greenhouse gas reductions. So it came as an extraordinary shock and is deeply concerning that EPA has proposed to drastically reduce the volumes of advanced fuels for the 2014 RFS.
Slashing next year’s target for advanced biofuels is a huge step backwards from the Obama administration’s goal of decreasing greenhouse gases and improving energy security. Advanced biofuels, including Brazilian sugarcane ethanol, reduce carbon dioxide emissions by over 50 percent compared to gasoline and are a proven solution for addressing climate change. Yet, EPA’s proposed formula for setting advanced biofuel targets blatantly ignores its own estimates that 650-800 million gallons of sugarcane ethanol can be supplied to the United States in 2014.
As my colleagues on this and other panels will testify, EPA’s proposal pulls the rug from under the advanced biofuels industry, not just Brazilian sugarcane producers. EPA is proposing to cut advanced biofuel volumes next year by more than 40 percent compared to the requirements written into the RFS statute. Ironically, EPA is proposing a less than 10 percent reduction to volume requirements for conventional biofuels, which include a number of grandfather facilities that may well not meet the minimum requirement of 20 percent reduction.
EPA should set renewable fuel standards that encourage production and consumption of all available advanced biofuels. Because the domestic market for American biofuels is growing rapidly. EPA originally projected that the U.S. would need to import around 660 million gallons of Brazilian sugarcane ethanol to meet the 2013 advanced biofuel standard. However, total sugarcane ethanol imports will end this year at only 450-500 million gallons – not because Brazil has exhausted its capacity for exports – but because American production of advanced biofuels is expanding quicker than EPA forecast.
Congress clearly intended to encourage greater use of advanced biofuels year over year, in order to achieve the largest GHG reductions possible. That’s why UNICA supports EPA’s Option 1, which would set the advanced biofuel volume requirements based on the availability of advanced biofuels plus carryover RINs.
We also encourage EPA to consider implementation of California’s low carbon fuel standard when setting the RFS targets. The Golden State considers Brazilian sugarcane biofuels the low-carbon fuel with the best performance today and the only fuel available at commercial scale to contribute to meeting its low-carbon fuel standard. Similarly, we urge the Administration to consider the repercussions for trade policy. Europe has already assessed dumping charges on some U.S. biofuels, and the last thing the global biofuels market needs is policy reversals that flood other countries with unwanted product.
Our association looks forward to commenting further on this proposal and will continue to play an active role in the RFS rulemaking process, serving as a source of credible information about the efficiency and sustainability of sugarcane ethanol. Likewise, Brazil will continue to be a strong, dependable partner helping America meet its clean energy goals. Thank you.
A couple of new reports released this month in Brussels carry a similar message: Sustainable biofuels, like sugarcane-based ethanol from Brazil, will need to play a significant role if the decarbonization of European transport is going to happen longer term.
There’s also another important message in the two studies, one by E4Tech and the other by CE Delft/TNO: the EU still has an opportunity -- especially with a new Commission and new European Parliament taking over in 2014 -- to cultivate the right policy environment in order to move industry toward producing more advanced biofuels and enabling higher blending rates of sustainably produced biofuels for gasoline and diesel.
“Currently there is no 2030 policy environment for biofuels. There is also an urgent need for specifications for new biofuel blends for policy to promote high quality advanced biofuels and compatible vehicles, and a framework that addresses biofuel sustainability issues,” says E4Tech, a consultancy, which released its findings on Tuesday. E4Tech’s report was commissioned by a consortium of Daimler, Honda, Neste Oil, OMV, Shell and Volkswagen.
Through the E4Tech study, that group of automakers and fuel producers is pushing an Auto-Fuel Roadmap that recommends a series of achievable steps, based on evidence, that can be put into place in the coming years by policymakers and industry alike.
In particular, the E4Tech study lays out a timeline for a series of key actions, including an EU policy and fuel standards’ aim for the roll-out of maximum 10% ethanol, or E10, into gasoline by 2020; introducing E20 by 2025; and mandating, via policy, that all new gasoline vehicles are E20 compatible from 2018.
Such goals are already feasible with current technologies and with the direction that budding technologies are taking. The targets are also achievable in parallel with meeting critical sustainability requirements and cutting greenhouse emissions. In Brazil, the introduction of flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs) ten years ago has allowed Brazilians to freely decide which fuel they want to use. FFVs can run on either petrol or pure ethanol, or any blends of the two. That freedom of choice in Brazil also comes with the benefit of benefit of reduced carbon emissions, given the high CO2 emission reductions (71% according to EU Renewable Energy and Fuel Quality Directives) that sugarcane ethanol achieves versus fossil fuel. And Europeans should have the same freedom of choice and environmental benefits, particularly in light of recent World Health Organization assessments showing that air quality remains a pressing problem in many European cities and countries.
The E4Tech study’s findings are also echoed in another report unveiled earlier this month from CE Delft/TNO, which produced its study at the request of the European Commission. “It is essential for governments and industry to decide within 1 or 2 years on the way ahead and take necessary actions covering both, the fuels and the vehicles, to ensure their effective and timely implementation,” CE Delft/TNO said in its report.
Like the E4Tech study, CE Delft/TNO says higher blending ratios are technically feasible and would move Europe toward greater decarbonization in transport, which remains one of the main sources of global carbon emissions.
To be sure, to realize the projections and recommendations of both reports -- like biofuels accounting for 15% of transport fuel in 2030 in Europe versus about 5% today, as E4Tech projects -- a lot of things need to happen. Yet it’s an important signal that some key automakers and fuel suppliers are working in parallel to move Europe closer to its climate abatement and energy supply security goals.
But will the EU play its role in providing the proper longer-term policy signals? Let’s hope that the new Commission and Parliament will size this opportunity next year.
EPA Signals Retreat on Greenhouse Gases by Minimizing Contributions from Foreign Producers of Advanced Biofuels
In response to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiling a proposal that could cut next year’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) target for advanced biofuels by 20 percent, Leticia Phillips, the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association’s (known by the acronym “UNICA”) North American Representative issued the following statement.
Slashing the 2014 target for advanced biofuels would be a huge step backwards from the Obama administration’s goal of decreasing greenhouse gases and improving energy security. Advanced biofuels, including Brazilian sugarcane ethanol, reduce carbon dioxide emissions by at least 50 percent compared to gasoline, and EPA has traditionally promoted these clean renewable fuels. That is why we are surprised and disappointed that EPA’s proposal minimizes the 650-800 million gallons of sugarcane ethanol Brazil is poised to supply to the United States in 2014.
Since the beginning of the RFS program, EPA has been a strong supporter of the modest but important role Brazilian sugarcane ethanol plays supplying Americans with sustainable fuel, certifying that it cuts carbon dioxide emissions by more than 60 percent and designating it an advanced renewable fuel. This federal proposal also dramatically impacts states like California, which considers Brazilian sugarcane ethanol the low-carbon fuel with the best performance today and the only fuel available at commercial scale to contribute to its low-carbon fuel standard.
Our association looks forward to commenting on this inadequate proposal and will continue to play an active role in the RFS rulemaking process, serving as a source of credible information about the efficiency and sustainability of sugarcane ethanol. Likewise, Brazil will continue to be a strong, dependable partner helping America meet its clean energy goals.
# # #
The Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association is the leading trade association for the sugarcane industry in Brazil, representing 60 percent of the country’s sugarcane production and processing. More information on sugarcane ethanol and its role as an advanced biofuel is available at www.sugarcane.org/rfs.
As an indication of how the European Union biofuels dossier remains stuck in a holding pattern, the European Parliament’s Energy Committee has canceled a planned vote on whether to give the EU’s Parliament Rapporteur a mandate to hold negotiations (so-called “Trilogue talks”) with EU Member States and the European Commission to come up with a grand compromise on the dossier.
An Energy committee vote would have been more a formality than anything else because the Parliament’s Environment Committee already voted weeks earlier to reject giving the Rapporteur a mandate to initiate Trilogue discussions. These inter-institution discussions are an important indication in the EU policymaking phase that signals that a conclusive policy text is likely to be around the corner. But this was not the case for the EU biofuels policy.
If there is a good thing though about the protracted biofuels debate in Brussels it is that policymakers can deepen their responsibility to have a more nuanced discussion about biofuels – and move away from the black and white debate that has dominated discussions in this town. This would mean taking more clearly into account ethanol’s environmental benefits, such as high potential greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction for example.
Well-performing first generation biofuels, such as Brazilian Sugarcane Ethanol (BSCE), should be incentivized and not categorized as an under-performing biofuel.
BSCE is an advanced biofuel in places like the U.S., in part because it does not contribute to deforestation, as it is grown mostly on degraded pasture land and produced almost entirely in the south-central part of Brazil, far away from the Amazon rainforest; and it achieves among the highest GHG emission savings (over 70% relative to fossil fuel alternatives, according to the default values in the EU Renewable Energy Directive, and more than 55% when estimated ILUC emissions are accounted for) of all biofuels produced at scale.
EU Member States could still agree to a “Common Position” as they have been deliberating in coming months. But even if that happens, the Parliament will still need to consider and debate the Member State Common Position, and there simply isn’t enough time to do this when the Parliament’s final full session (plenary) is in April, just ahead of European Parliament elections across all 28 Member States in May 22-25.
Thus, the EU biofuel policy debate is unlikely to be resolved until perhaps 2015, six years after the biofuel/ILUC policy discussion commenced in earnest in Brussels.
The 40-year anniversary of 1973’s OPEC oil embargo is an important milestone in the world’s transition toward renewable sources of fuel. Many media outlets and respected energy leaders have been looking back over the past four decades, searching for lessons learned. Among the best retrospectives I’ve read is a feature story in E&E News’ ClimateWire – a respected policy-insider publication headquartered here in Washington – that recounts how price spikes and fuel shortages prompted a renewable fuels revolution in Brazil and helped create “the most successful biofuel industry in the world.”
This “Brazilian experience” with renewable energy and sugarcane ethanol reads like a primer on how stable policy and investment in new technologies can fuel a green economy while cutting emissions and dependence on foreign oil. Today, sugarcane ethanol has replaced almost 40% of Brazil’s gasoline demand while cutting nearly 200 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
The full ClimateWire article is an excellent read, and a few key excerpts jump off the page to underscore the power of clean and renewable fuels:
- Stable government policy was necessary at first – Brazil initially relied on government mandates to start the transition away from gasoline. By mandating ethanol blending in gasoline, requiring installation of pumps dispensing pure ethanol, funding research and development, and encouraging carmakers to build vehicles that could run on ethanol, sugarcane ethanol became a reality virtually overnight.
“By 1977, gasoline-ethanol blends had arrived at the pump. The sugarcane industry invested in new fields. New ethanol mills dotted the landscape. The World Bank and national financial institutions structured a financing system to support the investment.”
- Sudden policy changes threatened growth – When Brazil transitioned to a democracy and the price of oil dropped in the 1980s, the national government considered dropping ethanol support, threatening a fast-growing industry even though consumer demand was clear.
“The government could not shut it down in one step because so many people had ethanol cars…there was a lot of tension between fiscal pressure and the number of cars in the street.”
- But stable technology investments saved the day – Even though Brazil’s cut funding, automakers maintained investments in new ethanol vehicle technologies. By the time oil prices rose again in the early 2000s, flex-fuel vehicles were ready to meet market demand.
“The decision on which fuel people would use was transferred from the government to consumer…Flex-fuel vehicles rapidly became the best-selling cars in Brazil.”
- Brazilian consumers have real options at the pump – The combination of technological investments, environmental and economic benefits, and steady government policy helped create a booming domestic biofuels economy and holds lessons for America’s policymakers.
“’We need to focus on being as smart as the Brazilians,’ R. James Woolsey, former director of the CIA and chairman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said in a discussion on energy security and independence.”
“Because the United States had not widely encouraged the development of flex-fuel vehicles, the country now faces the possibility of a blend wall: too much ethanol and not enough gas tanks to take it…The goal for the United States shouldn’t be to completely displace oil, experts said, but to encourage a greater mix of fuel sources.”
Indeed, as debate over the future of advanced biofuels policy intensifies, it’s important to remember that a stable Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) has encouraged advanced biofuels use in the U.S. while driving innovations in renewable fuels that boost American economic growth and energy security while cutting emissions.
Brazil will continue to be a strong, dependable partner helping America meet its clean energy goals. And Brazilian sugarcane producers will continue to play an active role in the RFS rulemaking process serving as a source for credible information and analysis about the efficiency and sustainability of sugarcane ethanol.
The United Nations’ Committee on World Food Security (CFS) met last week in Rome and, not surprisingly, biofuels were again at the centre of a hot debate. Governments, industry, civil society and academics all represented at the meeting could agree on an overall mild conclusion which asks for further assessment, given the very controversial topic to which they were confronted.
In the UN’s words, the CFS recognizes that biofuels development “encompasses both opportunities and risks in economic, social and environmental aspects, depending on the context and practices” and encourages all stakeholders to help countries assess the impact of their biofuel policies. This only demonstrates that the overall dimension of biofuel production is yet to be fully captured and this gives stakeholders the opportunity to show that not all biofuels policies have negative impacts, that good examples of a fair balance between food and fuel production exist and that best practices should be incentivized. Let’s hope that this further assessment phase will help to develop a less black and white approach to biofuels.
Brazil is one of these good examples. Brazilian Sugarcane Ethanol (BSCE) is classified in places like the U.S. as an advanced biofuel and the land producing ethanol also produces sugar. In fact, in the last 20 years the volume of sugarcane harvested has tripled to respond to the growing demand for ethanol and sugar, but food production hasn’t dropped at all. Over the same period, grains production has also almost tripled in Brazil. Production of BSCE only uses 0.5% of Brazil’s total area and the agro-ecological zoning regulations limit the land used for sugarcane to 7.5% of the Brazilian territory.
In conclusion, the CFS recognized the complexity of the links between biofuels and food security and the need to distinguish between short-term and long-term impacts, despite the intense reaction of Oxfam at the end of the meeting last Friday, which argued that “Unfortunately, powerful countries refused to act despite the evidence and preferred to put biofuel industry interests ahead of peoples’ right to food”.
Unfortunately, the CFS missed the opportunity to recognize the positive role that bioenergy production has played, particularly in minimizing the downward slope of agricultural investments and commodity prices. After all, investments in agriculture generate more economic growth in developing countries than investments in any other sector. In addition, access to energy is a condition to produce food: the more sustainable the energy produced and used, the more sustainable the food production will be!
The CFS will meet again next year and according to the action points agreed, FAO will have to come up with proposals on “contingency plans to adjust policies that stimulate biofuels production and consumption when global food markets are under pressure and food supplies are endangered” as well as “provide toolkits to device and assess integrated food security and sustainable biofuels policies”. The newly elected Chair, Gerda Verburg, the Dutch Ambassador to UN agencies in Rome, said she wants to keep negotiating with all the stakeholders represented in the Committee and focusing on the outreach for the implementation of the decisions already taken.
At UNICA, we will continue our efforts to spread the word on how Brazil has emerged as a leader in providing both food and energy from its diversified and efficient agricultural sector.
Ecofys, a well-respected Dutch consultancy, is out with a new study that effectively eviscerates the association of biofuels with “land grabbing,” that favorite charged-phrase NGOs pedal that industry is in the business of pushing locals off their land.
The meaty conclusion from Ecofys: “At best, only 0.5% of all deals in the Land Matrix concern land grabs for EU biofuels.”
Bear in mind, Ecofys is an environmentally minded consultancy, if you will, that does studies for the European Union, industry, and even NGOs. This particular study was commissioned by ePure, the European Ethanol Producers.
The Ecofys study says that biofuels used in the EU market basically do not come from feedstocks produced from “grabbed” lands, undermining among NGO arguments against EU biofuel policy is that biofuels “take land away” from food production and rural communities.
The study cross checked a number of entries in the Land Matrix of the International Land Coalition. Although the best informed global database on land deals, the Land Matrix “is based on reports from the media and NGOs which both often overestimate scale,” says Ecofys.
Nonetheless, the matrix had a total of 617 deals in its system, covering around 38 million hectares, as of March 2013.
This extract lays out the message Ecofys conveys with this study: “Of these 617 deals, we assessed 66 deals, which sum up to 25.8 Mha, or 67% of the total acreage in the database. This includes the 50 largest deals around the world, as well as the 5 largest deals given per sub-region in the Land Matrix. We checked these deals by collecting all possible and available information about these deals on the internet and sometimes from private investigation, by checking information with networks within the respective countries.”
What does Ecofys have to say about NGOs wild claims? “Action Aid claims that ‘it is estimated that biofuels have been involved in at least 50 million hectares being grabbed from rural communities.’ This is 28 times (!) our findings of about 1.8 Mha. The total extent of land deals that can maximally be connected to the EU biofuels policy in past and until 2020 is probably another ten times smaller.” Here is the latest report on social impact of EU biofuel policy by Action Aid.
Finally, the study argues that the voluntary schemes introduced in the framework of the so called RED (EU Renewable Energy Directive) actually helped the development of better regulation in third countries on social and economic aspects of biofuels production. A very successful example is Bonsucro, The Better Sugarcane Initiative, to which UNICA is member and which certifies -- according to EU standards -- 29 Brazilian mills, covering 6.5% of the total Brazilian sugarcane area and more than 2 billion liters of sugarcane ethanol.
The Ecofys study looks at the effect of the EU policy promoting biofuels, hence starting from 2009. It is worth to notice that from 2008, ethanol exports from Brazil to the EU considerably decreased as the graph here below shows (from 1,661.4 million liters in 2008 to 97.21 million liters in 2012); therefore there is clearly no connection between land “grabbing” and increasing demand and exports for biofuels to EU in the case of Brazil.
Looking forward to more reactions to this report.
The late U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan is often credited for quipping that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not to their own facts.
Fresh export data from Brazil reminded me of that saying because it will come as an unwelcome reality check for naysayers of sugarcane ethanol. Let’s turn to the facts to debunk two leading myths circulating around Washington, D.C. about Brazilian sugarcane ethanol.
Myth #1: Brazil can’t supply sufficient sugarcane ethanol to meet America’s needs.
Reality: Brazilian sugarcane ethanol is on track to not only meet, but could exceed the amount regulators projected necessary to comply with the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) 2013 targets for advanced biofuels.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has forecast that the U.S. will need almost 600 million gallons of sugarcane ethanol to meet RFS requirements this year. As of August 31, Brazil’s sugarcane ethanol producers have shipped about 330 million gallons to U.S. markets, compared to 267 million gallons during the same period in 2012. (For those keeping track of the imports and RINs after reading Sunday’s New York Times, just look at EPA’s data online to see that over 250 million gallons worth of RINs have been generated from imported advanced biofuels like sugarcane ethanol.)
Some simple arithmetic shows Brazil’s exports year-to-date are only slightly more than half what’s needed for the year. Bad news, right? With eight months down and just four to go, rumors are circulating that sugarcane ethanol imports won’t supply the necessary gallons.
But those naysayers forget Brazil’s sugarcane harvest starts in April, meaning ethanol exports tend to start slow in the first half of each year before hitting high gear in the second half. In fact, American imports of sugarcane ethanol during the second half of each year have historically been three to five times higher than imports in the first half of each year.
Compare the first half of 2013 with other historical data[i] and it’s clear that Brazil is easily on target to meet EPA’s expectations:
But don’t just take my word for it. In the agency’s final 2013 RFS rule, EPA notes that sugarcane ethanol imports this year have increased by 110% to 147% compared to 2012. EPA then observes: “[t]his increase, combined with the fact that the majority of Brazilian ethanol exports to the United States have historically occurred in the second half of the calendar year, suggests that Brazilian ethanol exports to the U.S. are on a trajectory that would readily enable Brazil to supply 580 million gallons to the U.S. in 2013.”
Of course, the real driver of imports is U.S. demand. And here we have to again tell the RFS naysayers to check their facts. Despite the doom and gloom of some special interests, the biofuels industry has delivered the gallons. Not just conventional biofuels, like corn ethanol, but also the advanced biofuels, from biodiesel to sugarcane ethanol. In fact, thanks to robust growth in advanced biofuel production in the past few months, the U.S. may not demand the level of imports that EPA expected earlier this year. That’s more proof that the RFS is working.
Myth #2: The “ethanol shuffle” that sends corn ethanol to Brazil and sugarcane ethanol to the U.S. doesn’t help the economy or environment of either country.
Reality: The 2011 shuffle was a one-time event, and Brazil is a net-exporter of biofuels.
Brazil is committed to helping America meet its renewable fuels goals, and production has expanded over time to meet rising U.S. demand. Ethanol production so far in 2013 is up 7 percent compared to first-half August 2012, and 8 percent compared to second-half August 2012.
Growing sugarcane ethanol production and export levels also put to rest any fears of another “ethanol shuffle” between Brazil and the U.S. This term refers to the one-year anomaly experienced in 2011 when America exported a comparable amount of corn ethanol to Brazil as the volume of sugarcane ethanol imported from Brazil.
As of the end of August, Brazil had only imported 31 million gallons of corn ethanol from America – which is less than 10% of the sugarcane ethanol Brazil has exported to the U.S. during the comparable period. Unfortunately for some critics, the music’s stopped on the ethanol shuffle, and the phenomenon is clearly not happening again in 2013.
Reality: A Committed Partnership On Renewable Fuels
Add it all up, and Brazil is far and away a net exporter of ethanol to the U.S. – a role that’s helping encourage innovation and expanding advanced biofuels use among American drivers.
Brazil’s sugarcane producers look forward to working with EPA to find the right advanced biofuels requirements under the RFS for 2014 and beyond, and stand ready to help America meet its growing goals for low-emission transportation options.
I think that even by Senator Moynihan’s high standards, we might all agree these observations are facts worth keeping in mind the next time an unfounded opinion gets in the way of reality.
[i] All data courtesy of the Brazilian Ministry of Trade & Development’s Secretary of Foreign Trade online database.
A mixed bag from Wednesday’s full European Parliament vote on biofuels and that issue of indirect land use change, ILUC, after months of debate in the parliament.
The bad news is that the EP, as expected, voted to approve a cap on first generation biofuels, although the cap was approved at 6%, not the 5% that environmentalists were foaming at the mouth for. If approved by EU Member States, the cap would effectively lower the 10% renewables-in-transport target for 2020 that the EU set a few years back; that target is expected to be achieved largely by the use of biofuels.
The better news is that some positive amendments in UNICA’s interests were adopted, such as a 7.5% sub-target for ethanol and a sub-target of 2.5% for advanced biofuels, which includes bagasse and straw. And, proposals were rejected that would have applied protectionist and discriminatory measures and made it difficult, if not impossible, for sustainable, EU-compliant biofuels produced in non-European Union nations to be legally counted toward meeting EU renewable energy and fuel quality requirements.
Much to the environmentalists’ irritation, this whole issue now goes to the EU’s 28 Member States, who are less enthusiastic about the ILUC issue than Members of the European Parliament. Member States will try to come up with their own position on the biofuel/ILUC topic – which must then, time-consumingly, go back to the Parliament to be reviewed and debated.
What’s all this mean?? Delay, Delay, Delay. That is not ideal, but at least this situation raises the prospect of a better deal coming from Member States—or maybe no deal at all, should Member States fail to agree on a common position.
So stay tuned. A lot more to come on this from Brussels.
Another interesting report out last week on biofuels. This one is entitled, “Biofuels play minor role in local food prices,” and was produced by Ecofys, a Dutch consulting firm that does work regularly for the European Commission and sometimes for NGOs and the biofuels industry.
The key takeaway from the Ecofys report (found here: http://www.ecofys.com/en/news/report-biofuels-play-minor-role-in-local-food-prices/)
“The historic impact of EU biofuels demand until 2010 increased world grain prices by about 1-2% and, without any cap on crop-based biofuel production may lead to another 1% increase through 2020.”
Additionally: “Systemic factors, like reduced reserves, food waste, speculation, transportation issues, storage costs and problems, and hoarding play a much larger role in local food prices” than biofuels, Ecofys concluded.
Does these conclusions sound familiar? They should. Here’s a list of other studies from other reputable institutions -- including the European Commission, the European Union’s executive -- that have reached similar conclusions like what Ecofys has just churned out:
· World Bank (Baffes and Dennis), 2013, "Long-term drivers of food prices"http://econ.worldbank.org/external/default/main?pagePK=64165259&piPK=64165421&theSitePK=469382&menuPK=64166093&entityID=000158349_20130521131725
· The European Commission report on the implementation of the EU Renewable Energy Directive (see p.12) http://ec.europa.eu/energy/renewables/reports/doc/com_2013_0175_res_en.pdf
· The Institute for International Trade Negotiations (ICONE) in Brazil http://www.iconebrasil.com.br/publication/study/details/568