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Thursday, 22 July 2010

NGOs slam EU-Brazil plans to develop biofuels in Africa

EU and Brazilian leaders are set to announce a new "triangular co-operation" initiative, under which they will aim to work together in some of the world's poorest countries, but NGOs say the duo's scheme is self-centred and will simply make conditions worse. At a bilateral summit in Brasilia on Wednesday (14 July), European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso and Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva are to agree to co-operate on a range of different projects in Portuguese speaking parts of Africa, Haiti and East Timor in the coming years. The development of renewable energy is likely to be a central theme, and a first step will see the EU and Brazil sign an agreement with Mozambique this week to develop bioelectricity and biofuels projects, EU sources have indicated. Brazilian companies are world leaders in the production of biofuels and are looking to expand their operations both internally and abroad, while the EU is looking to increase its biofuel use at home in order to meet its target of sourcing 20 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2020.
But as EU and Brazilian officials prepare to start studies on how best to develop bioethanol, biodiesel and bioelectricity projects in Mozambique - already a leading African producer of biofuels - environmental groups say the initiative will simply serve to displace people from their land and exacerbate food shortages.

Source: EU observer