We are days away from a law as necessary as that of biofuels loses its validity. This government, unintelligibly, has decided not to extend it. But it also threatens to reduce mandatory cuts for bioethanol and biodiesel. In other words, 50 production plants distributed in 10 provinces will lose important tax benefits and will be left in a situation of legal orphanhood.
Thousands of jobs lost in the midst of a situation of extreme vulnerability. Behind such abandonment to producers there is a fierce lobby of an oil sector that thinks about dividends and not about federalism, regional developments or sustainability.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has been issuing reports that indicate that the world is on the verge of environmental collapse due to unsustainable practices. Abandoning the path of biofuel production means, additionally, failing to make the commitment that we have made as a country by signing the Paris Agreement.
The planet is one and we cannot back down when it comes to regulating in favor of the environment. The Kirchnerist government seems to ignore an irrefutable truth: biofuels are the ones that add the most to reducing greenhouse gases.
The legislative proposal that I have presented seeks not to lose the current law and, on the other hand, an increase in the mandatory cuts of biofuels. In the case of biodiesel, it is an increase to 15% and gradually increase to 27% in six years. The installed capacity in Argentina can generate up to 40%. The use of 100% biodiesel could even be encouraged for certain sectors, such as cargo transportation or agricultural machinery.
At this time there is a high level of idleness in the plants, some of them closed due to erratic economic policies, lack of legal security and the imposition of tariff barriers from the United States and the European Union.
In the case of Bioethanol, after dialogue with experts, we urge that the cut be 15% to begin with (the cut has been at 12% for more than ten years), and gradually increase annually, according to the conditions of the internal market, the environment and the evolution of employment.
To establish the cut-off percentages for bioethanol, the conversation must extend to a sector that is vibrant in Córdoba: the automotive sector. It is essential that together with this law, we can establish a work plan so that Flex-type engines are produced in the country. Only with the development and implementation of this type of engines in the automotive fleet, we will be able to have greater cuts of bioethanol, otherwise, it will be impossible.
So it is not only a question of proposing to raise the percentages for the fact of opposing the government (although the measures they take are mostly destructive), but we must consider our productive and energy matrix as interrelated systems that converge in the development of our economy. In ADEFA (Automotive Manufacturers Association), they have stated that they would be willing to modify the engines and invest in modernizing.
In return, they ask for “predictability and a reasonable time for transition.” But when a government changes the rules of the game, abandons producers in the midst of a crisis, and disregards investments worth billions of dollars, predictability is a utopia.
Leaving the producers without the law as the government of Cristina and Alberto is doing means less production for the mills and grain harvesters, much fewer jobs and fewer possibilities of value added at source for our economy in general (when what Argentina needs it’s foreign exchange!).
Additionally, in the production of biofuels we can see the circular economy that generates a low level of waste: a grain producer transforms its primary product into fuel. The by-products are then used as food and the organic remnants of plant or animal origin are stored and produce biogas. We are talking about integrating links in a complex and valuable chain. Learning should be increasingly beneficial for the country.
The whole world has to review the meaning of development and take urgent steps towards the regeneration of the ecosystem. Not only is the air we breathe degraded, but soils lose their nutrients due to unsustainable practices, water is at risk of being contaminated, our health has a reserved prognosis and that is why we must rethink our interaction with mother earth and the ways of generation and consumption of energy.
Of all the options that exist to address the issue, the most irrational and irresponsible is the one chosen by this government that threatens to reduce cuts and damage bioenergy production.
Diego Mestre is a National Deputy (UCR-JXC) President of the Consumer, User and Competition Defense Commission.
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