U.S. Ambassador to the EU tackles global warming and energy security
On April 24, GMF's Berlin Office hosted U.S. Ambassador to the EU, C. Boyden Gray, for a lunch discussion on biofuels and aromatics.
The luncheon which was moderated by GMF Senior Transatlantic Fellow Dr. Jörg Himmelreich and co-organized by the United Nations Foundation brought together members of: the German parliament, leading think-tank institutions, the U.S. Embassy to Germany, and the automotive and oil industries.
Ambassador Gray opened the discussion emphasizing the importance of biofuels for the future by which he tackled two important issues: global warming and energy security.
In his remarks, the Ambassador addressed the question of why biofuels could and should become very important in the future. His answer "health." He explained that aromatics, a component of oil-based gasoline, are considered to be "bad actors" due to their carbon-intensive and cancer-producing agents. Their usage, the Ambassador argued, has led to an increase in air pollution resulting in the deaths of 20,000 to 30,000 people annually in the U.S. and approximately 370,000 deaths in the EU. With such alarming figures; however, there still has been no real discussion concerning this issue in the EU and no plan put in place on either side of the Atlantic on how to reduce its usage.
The discussion was closed with the Ambassador stressing the importance of biofuels as a means to solve the health, energy, and global warming issues of our time. Additionally, he indicated that biofuels will also be cheaper than ordinary gasoline once the price of oil reaches US$55-$60 per barrel.
The discussion was followed by a lively question and answer period where some participants expressed their concerns about the impacts of biofuels on food production and sustainability. Looking to land as a necessity to grow the plants required for biofuels production, Ambassador Gray pointed out that there are vast amounts of land available in Asia and Latin America suitable for growing such plants, but are currently not being utilized. And since, the automotive and oil industries are interested in a common standard on biofuels in the EU and the U.S., it would be far more efficient to have one regulatory system across the Atlantic rather than two separate ones, he explained.
At the event, participants were optimistic about a common transatlantic marketplace on biofuels, and the Ambassador even expressed the hope that this marketplace might become a reality within the next year.