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back to article French gear up for biofuels retreat

The French are leading a retreat from the EU’s increasingly out of whack biofuel policy yesterday, as they began their six month presidency of the Brussels talking shop. The headlong rush from a sugar cane and palm oil-powered economy comes less than six months after EU president Jose Manuel Durao Barroso set EU countries …

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English or British wine?

There's a difference - there's some quite nice English wine, but British wine is generally nothing of the sort, being a very nasty blend of dregs from multiple sources...

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Paris Hilton

Well, I'm buggered -

- a politician talking sense, and a Frenchie to boot!!

I am off to go and lie down in a darkened room.

Paris, obviously ..... French Presidency, dark room.......

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Joke

Proof of the old adage then.

If it smells like petrol and tastes like petrol..........

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Stop

Prince Charles

One assumes he's paying fuel tax on the wine he's using to run his vehicles?

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Another knee-jerk policy...

bites the dust.

Given that the only current economically 'viable' source of biofuel is to use land that should be used to grow food, this was a no-brainer from the start.

We live in "Interesting Times" indeed.

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@ Ben Boyle

SO long as Prince Charles doesn't use more than 2500 litres per year he doesn't need to pay fuel duty.

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Anonymous Coward

Prince Charles.

The monarchy are clearly trying to starve us all to death.

Sign now.

http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/Anti-monarchy/

http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/Republicanism/

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Anonymous Coward

English wine

This'd have more of a kick in India, where "english wine" is the widely used name for Indian 'scotch' whisky.

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Anonymous Coward

@ JonB

Republicanism? What are you wittering on about?

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Anonymous Coward

Another media storm.

It's a shame that a combination of governments rushing into something they don't understand and then an uneducated media backlash is leading to the baby being chucked out with the bath water.

- There are different kinds of sources for bio-fuels. Some better than others. This is almost never mentioned by the press but does have an impact on how useful bio-fuels can be at reducing CO2 output.

- Last time this was on The Register someone linked to an official report showing that current food prices have not been impacted by bio-fuels.

- There is loads of land currently not used in the EU which could be used for bio-fuel crops. In fact farmers are often paid not to use it or to plant throw away crops.

- It seems to be very difficult to get good figures for the CO2 cost of bio-fuels as there are many costs and benefits which seemed to be missed out or the report is about using corn which we don't use in the EU.

- A slight aside: De-forestation in South America contributes more to CO2 problems than global transport has ever done. This was the case long before bio-fuels became a hot topic.

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Anonymous Coward

@andy gibson

From the Duchy accounts:-

"The trial of a biodiesel fuel station at the Duchy oice near Bath over the past year has proved successful. Over 3,000 litres of 100% biodiesel produced locally from secondary use waste vegetable oils has been used in suitable staf vehicles. "

No mention of the ethanol in the DB5 but at roughly 4 miles/litre 2500 litres of it would only be average mileage.

@AC - Perhaps you need a dictionary?

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Coat

2500 litres a year

@andy gibson

He may only do a couple of hundred miles in it, but it is an Aston Martin. Probably quite a thirstly little motor.

Mines the one with the driving gloves in the pocket

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Prince Charles is a genius

He's cracked it. It's a simple idea, but why didn't we all think about using the waste output from our vineyards to power our Astons and Range Rovers?

Brilliant.

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@JonB

Another one who really should be out shopping for a clue.

Man, the idiots are *really* out in force today.

Day rlease from the funny farm maybe?

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I bet

I bet Prince Charles doesnt run his helicopter on booze.

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Pirate

republicanism indeed....

America, contrary to popular belief, is not a democracy but a republic.

look where that got them the poor buggers.

what we need is a return to a proper monarchy, first thing on the agenda..... "hey gordo me old mate, off with your bloody head"

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@Xander Dent

When the price of food is starving the third world to death as Charlie drives round in his cake powered wagon you'll see my point.

Although I'll never see yours as you don't seem to have one.

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More like junket than sense

"It made sense to set environmental and social criteria for biofuels..."

In order to make a full assessment this will require research in areas of the world where Palm plantations and so forth are developing to provide opportunities for cash crops and investment, and in other selected areas where food prices are high. Teams of EU advisors, together with MEPs and representatives from member states, will be making extensive investigations in coming months.

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Happy

Lay off Prince Charles

He is a certified "Global Environmental Citizen". We know so because the Americans gave him an award that says so:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6276819.stm

Granted, he had to fly a 7,000 mile round trip (costing £116,000) with an entourage of 18 people to collect it - but that's just detail.

I for one am always keen to be lectured on environmental issues by such paragons of virtue.

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Blimey

Wine powered vehicles?

Anyone told the French that they are now self-sufficient on fuels?

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food price rise vs petrol price rise

So? Price of food has gone up by... pence, if that, while petrol/oil rises exponentially with no end in sight (and will one day run out)... in fact, food is going up more due to the higher fuel costs in transporting the food to the shops rather than anything else.

Quite what the problem is I don't know... I'd rather a loaf of bread cost me 5p more instead of a litre of fuel costing me 50p more.

At least the Farmers might also earn a living then and we can stop giving them so many subsidies.

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Go

Like most things...

... some people figured that if some was good, more was better, and hang the cost.

If I'm not mistaken the original idea for biofuels was to burn waste. Say, mate -- you going to throw away that used cooking oil? Let me have it, I'll filter it and burn it in my car.

So it's cheap in price because it's no use to anybody else and cheap in cost because it's already been refined and used once. You're recycling waste.

Then some politician or fanatic (or fanatical politician) says, well, biofuel is great, so let's make more of it. Grow corn and refine it and dump into directly into peoples' diesel tanks.

Only problem is that it's no longer waste, and you're not getting dual use out of it.

And then people spend time and energy trying to find a better source of non-waste biofuel, because we know the model works, completely ignoring the fact that the original model was DIFFERENT.

Per JonB: "Over 3,000 litres of 100% biodiesel produced locally from secondary use waste vegetable oils...." Exactly! Secondary use waste vegetable oils -- used oil they would have thrown away! Nobody grew cornfields specially for that.

There's no freaking holy grail, people! Make the best use of your resources, yes. If you can recycle waste efficiently, that's good, it helps a lot. In more ways than one. I mean that without sarcasm. But the best way to save on fuel costs is to burn less fuel! Stop trying to find the magic bullet and work on reducing traffic. Encourage people to use public transit, give them decent prices and decent choices so it's worth switching. Make your city streets more bike-friendly. Hell, get more people on bicycles and on foot and you can reduce obesity and improve overall health. People will live longer and require fewer drugs and less medical attention. Think of the savings!

While you're at it, find a way to bring the price of LEDs down so they can compete with fluorescents. Insulate your houses better so they need less air conditioning. Build them with better flow-through so you can take advantage of natural air movement. And so on.

There are a lot of good ideas being developed, and I wouldn't want to diminish them. Progress is not made by ignoring new ideas. But there is a LOT we can do with our current technologies. We just have to apply them, do some planning and invest time and energy. Which is exactly what nobody seems to want to do; we're all looking for the magic bullet that will let us keep our current lifestyle, only better and cheaper. Nobody is willing to sacrifice. Have our cake and eat it too.

Well, oil isn't getting cheaper. Nobody likes change, but change is gonna happen. You can do it now on your own terms or wait for it to be forced on you.

I know which I'd rather.

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Flame

$2 per day verses SUV - who do you think will win?

@Jon H

5p extra is fine for you, but what about the sizable chunk of the world that is on a dollar or two per day? The corn required to fill up the fuel tank of an SUV just once would feed a person for a year.

It's poor people vs the SUV - guess who's gonna win?

Every acre of land converted to biofuel production is an acre of land withdrawn from food production. And those left hungry will do whatever is required to get food; I certainly wouldn't want to be standing in their way. So they will convert whatever undefended land they can to food production. The only undefended land left in world suitable for food production? The remains of the rainforest in places like Borneo and Brazil. So biofuels will be the killing blow to the world's remaining rainforest.

And once we've eaten the rainforests, what then?

Flame? - Cos thats what you use to clear forest for food.

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Anonymous Coward

Food price.

The 2007 Human Development Report (HDR) from the United Nations Development Program notes that, “There are still around 1 billion people living at the margins of survival on less than US$1 a day, with 2.6 billion—40 percent of the world’s population—living on less than US$2 a day.”

>Price of food has gone up by... pence, if that

Yes, just a few pence.

Meanwhile, royalty waltz around in inefficient food powered cars, that we pick up the tab for.

The French had been turning the wine lakes into ethanol for a while, but that was largely to push up the price of wine via green wrapped subsidy.

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@ Michael

"...Every acre of land converted to biofuel production is an acre of land withdrawn from food production. ..."

An fine example of the sort of unqualified sweeping statement that seems to drive policy thinking these days.

If you'd said "Every acre of food-growing land..." you'd have been correct. There are a lot of acres of land that aren't used for food (any more).

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