Brazilian President Wants Europe to Invest in Biofuel in Africa

Sugarcane cutters in Brazil The president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, defended three-sided cooperation so as to enable biofuel production in Central America, the Caribbean and Africa. He talked during the closing of the International Conference on Biofuels, November 21, in the city of São Paulo.

"Brazil is willing to transfer the necessary technology, especially to African countries. By the way, we are already doing so. One example is the presence of Embrapa in Accra, the capital of Ghana," said Lula

Lula also mentioned the importance of wealthy nations participating and investing in the production process for new energy sources. "We do not want European countries to dismantle their agricultural structure in order to plant sugarcane. We want them to invest in biofuel production in impoverished countries that have land available, such as the African countries," he said.

"We are only going to conquer the challenges facing us if the international community works with solidarity and takes into consideration the full importance of the matter," he claimed.

According to Lula, partnership between rich and poor countries is going to generate development for both sides and reduce immigration. "As long as there are impoverished nations, there is also going to be nomad people seeking better opportunities," he stated.

The president underscored the need for fighting the disinformation of those who claim that biofuels will destroy forests and cause hunger worldwide. "This is distortion of information and prejudice, which in fact hides interests. Biofuels are far from being a panacea, the solution to all social, environmental and economic problems. Nevertheless, they may help us reconcile development and respect to the environment," he stated.

With regard to generating jobs and income, reducing unsustainable standards of consumption and catering to the international demand for new sources of energy, Lula mentioned the example of Brazil. "We have invited the whole world to become acquainted with the concrete results of 30 years' work in Brazil. Thanks to lots of effort, hard work, and funds applied to research," he asserted.

According to the president, the attendance of 92 foreign delegations goes to show that the topic has finally entered the spotlight worldwide.

"Until a short while ago, the food crisis was the only topic under discussion. Now, the world is faced with an even greater and more devastating crisis. At the G-20 summit, in Washington, we decided to carry out joint action in a coordinated manner so as to minimize the crisis. We can no longer cover up other serious problems involving hunger, poverty and climate change," he said.

According to Lula, "diversifying the means for energy production is a pressing need for wealthy and developing nations. This summit launched a discussion on regulations and technical parameters. The world must allow for biofuels to turn into a commodity, so that they can be produced and exported to a greater number of countries," he stated. To the president, "many people have not understood yet that consumption standards must change. Our life is fleeting, but we are reborn in our children and grandchildren."

Lula concluded his address by mentioning the discovery of a two-billion-barrel oil reserve, announced this weekend by Petrobras. "This will not divert any of the attention from biofuels. Drilling for oil is expensive. A single platform costs around US$ 2 billion. Imagine the difference between that and producing biofuels, in which a small farmer can plant his own 'petroleum' in a 1-centimetre hole and, at the same, reduce gas emissions," he compared.

The governor of the state of São Paulo, José Serra, who also attended the closing of the conference, said that the issue of biofuels, given its environmental repercussions, is of interest to the whole planet, especially big cities. "Compared with gasoline, they reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 90% and do not emit methane gas," he stated.

Serra claimed that "even though biofuels are the key for sustainable development, the United States continue to adopt protectionist regulations, imposing a barrier of US$ 0.30 per liter, which is their production cost. In other words, they are 100% shielded." The governor also said that, furthermore, production of ethanol from maize is much more expensive, and "will continue to be, the use of technology notwithstanding."

To Serra, ensuring environmental conditions is among the concerns of Brazil. "Here in the state of São Paulo, agreements have been signed for putting an end to forest burning, promoting the zoning of sugarcane so as to guarantee diversity to agriculture in the state, and creating a research center turned to bioenergy, which will soon be implemented in partnership with the private sector," he said.

The International Conference on Biofuels, promoted by the government of Brazil, started last Monday, November 17, and ended Friday, November 21.




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