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French gear up for biofuels retreat

While Prince Charles runs the Aston on English wine

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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 binding targets on reducing carbon emissions and increasing renewables usage.

Brussels' target was for the EU to satisfy 10 per cent of its transport fuel needs with renewables such as biofuels by 2020.

But what used to seem like the EU’s brave commitment to tackle global climate change is increasingly seen as at best greenwashing the deck chairs on the Titanic and at worst a positive kick in the teeth for the increasingly hungry masses the organisation is trying to lock out of Western Europe.

The policy has been blamed for deforestation and a scaling back of food production in favour of fuel crops, pushing commodity prices through the roof and contributing to shortages worldwide that are already resulting in food riots in many developing countries.

French secretary of state for ecology Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet told reporters yesterday that the quota was “probably a mistake”, according to Reuters. It made sense to set environmental and social criteria for biofuels, she reportedly said, and then work out what sort of a quota, if any, was viable.

She said that: "Probably we will be obliged to call into question or postpone the 10 percent objective."

Italy has already criticized the rush to biofuels, while the UK will produce a review of the UK’s biofuels policy is due this week.

It seems the only person happy with the rush to biofuels is Prince Charles, who, it has emerged, has switched his fleet of cars over to biofuels at a cost of £5,000.

His “green” stable of top notch autos run on a variety of fuels. The Jags, Range Rovers and an Audi all run on cooking oil. His Aston Martin apparently runs on surplus “English” wine, which is likely to be the one biofuel the French and Italians will come out in support of. ®

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