More research is needed into potential areas of conflict to make sure biofuels trade is not hamstrung by illegal im-port or export restrictions. Uncertainty on how trade disciplines apply to domestic policies may disrupt rules to create a sustainable biofuels industry. We must also ensure national programmes supporting the production and consumption of biofuels do not breach WTO obligations. National measures favouring some feedstocks over others, based on whether processes or production methods are sustainable or not, could be challenged according to WTO rules on non-discrimina-tion or technical barriers. National measures to encourage the manufacture and use of biofuels also appear to conflict with anti-subsidy provi-sions in the WTO agreement. These provisions concern subsidies and measures applied to imports of subsidised products that prove damaging to domestic producers. The need for new rules is even more crucial because world energy demand is poised to double by 2050. Our global energy system has undergone a radical transformation in recent years. We have seen a rising tide of en-ergy company re-nationalisations and a build-up of national energy champions. Tensions are mounting between energy-consuming and energy-producing countries. As talks get under way next month on a post-Kyoto framework at the 13th conference of the parties of the UN Framework for Climate Change, the need to examine energy trade rules takes on fresh urgency. Nothing less is at stake than our capacity to build the sustainable energy future we all want. Copyright 2007 The Financial Times Limited
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