On April 11, the Netherlands and Brazil signed an agreement to share knowledge about the production and transport of biofuels during a state visit by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to The Hague.
The Netherlands sees itself as a potentially key transit point to transport Brazilian ethanol biofuels to rest of the EU countries. The EU has committed itself to increase its renewable energy use by 20% by 2020, compared to 1990 levels, with biofuels to make up 10% of all transport fuels used by then.
In a speech ahead of the signing of the agreement Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen underlined the importance of producing biofuels in a sustainable way. "Producers, including those in Brazil, face the challenge of meeting the EU's strict sustainability standards," Verhagen said.
He said that the move was in everyone's interests: "your interest as an exporter to a potentially enormous market... our interest because we want to honor our European commitments and diversify our energy mix."
Biofuels, like ethanol, have come under attack lately as global spiraling food prices are attributed to their growing use. The Brazilian president already denied there was a link between rising food prices and biofuels and called on "the responsibility of the developed countries to reduce the distortions that affect the developing countries" because of farm subsidies.
Brazil is the world's second largest producer of ethanol biofuel and the sugarcane used to produce the ethanol is taking up an ever greater part of Brazil's agricultural lands.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008