While speaking to the people of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, March 21, President Barack Obama touted that both the United States and Brazil are committed to greener economies and "creating new energy partnerships."
Those partnerships include an expansion of the existing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Brazil and the U.S. to advance cooperation on biofuels, signed in 2007, to include a new partnership for the development of aviation biofuels. Key goals in the agreement include developing sustainable aviation biofuels as an important means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, establishing common standards and specifications, and strengthening private sector partnerships.
The Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA), who regularly calls for the end of the U.S. tariff on imported ethanol, pointed out that in the MOU is a clause calling on the two countries to "prevent international barriers to biofuels trade and development." Various companies are developing aviation fuels based on sugarcane, including a three-way partnership between Brazilian regional jet manufacturer Embraer, engine manufacturer General Electric and California biotech company Amyris. In 2012, the trio intends to stage the first-ever flight using jet fuel produced from sugarcane, using an Embraer aircraft equipped with GE engines and owned by Brazil's Azul Airlines.
"Even avid supporters of heavy subsidies and steep tariffs that prevent Brazilian ethanol from entering the U.S. market competitively are now openly discussing what happens next, both in terms of technologies and policy. Without admitting it, they're in fact recognizing that the current situation can't last much longer because it works against everyone's best interests. U.S. consumers are being denied access to clean, renewable Brazilian sugarcane ethanol, which could be contributing to lower greenhouse gas emissions and save Americans money at the pump," said Marcos Jank, president and CEO of UNICA.
Obama also announced the launch of a Strategic Energy Dialogue that involves development and access to Brazil's huge new petroleum reserves, but will also deal directly with clean energy technologies. During a speech to about 500 Brazilian and U.S. business executives in Brasilia, Obama pointed out that focusing on fossil fuels in the near term doesn't mean losing sight of what needs to happen in the future.
"The only long-term solution to the world's dependence on fossil fuels is clean energy technology, and that is why the United States and Brazil are deepening our cooperation on biofuels, and why we're launching a U.S.-Brazil Green Economy Partnership. Because we know that the development of clean energy is one of the best ways to create new jobs and industries in both our nations," Obama concluded, acknowledging that more than half of all vehicles on the road in Brazil are flex-fuel capable and run primarily on biofuels.
Jank sees the new Green Economy Partnership as an additional and vital step to strengthen ongoing U.S.-Brazil efforts to improve and expand production and use of biofuels domestically as well as in third countries. "This is a natural move for the top two renewable energy producers and users in the world. Brazil and the United States should be leading by example, working together to advance on all fronts, including breaking down trade barriers that hinder the global expansion of biofuels."
Policy is one of the most important issues facing farmers today, but often the most difficult to digest. Jacqui Fatka has a passion to decode the often difficult world of agricultural policy into terms understandable for today's ag players.
Fatka joined the Farm Progress team as E-Content Editor in August 2003 after graduating from Iowa State University. Prior to full-time employment with Farm Progress, she interned at Wallaces Farmer magazine, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley's press office and the Iowa Pork Producers Association and freelanced for National Hog Farmer. She also worked as a public relations consultant with Iowa Industries for the Future, an effort to bring together major players in the biorenewables industry.
Currently Fatka is a staff editor at a sister publication, Feedstuffs. For Farm Futures she regularly tells the story of ongoing agricultural policy changes. Her byline can also be found on management profiles.
Fatka grew up on a grain and livestock farm near Atlantic, Iowa. She currently lives in central Ohio with her husband Eric, and their three children - Josiah, Spencer and Avonell.
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