Tuesday, September 30, 2008

[biofuelwatch] Digest Number 786



There is 1 message in this issue.

Topics in this digest:

1. ASA Adjudications : RSPB : anti-biofuel ad not misleading, says watc
From: Andrew Boswell


Message
________________________________________________________________________
1. ASA Adjudications : RSPB : anti-biofuel ad not misleading, says watc
Posted by: "Andrew Boswell" andrewboswell@fastmail.co.uk a_boswell_2004
Date: Mon Sep 29, 2008 1:40 pm ((PDT))

Full adjudication notes at bottom


RSPB anti-biofuel ad not misleading, says watchdog


By Rosie Walker, Third Sector Online, 25 September 2008

RSPB anti-biofuel ad not misleading, says watchdog

RSPB anti-biofuel ad not misleading, says watchdog

The Advertising Standards Authority has rejected a complaint that an RSPB
advert criticising biofuels is misleading.

The national press advert showed a photograph of a petrol pump with a
crocodile, elephant and leopard coming out of its nozzle alongside the
slogan "Don't put wildlife in your tank".

The text beneath it reads: "The drive for biofuels is wiping out precious
wildlife habitats. And some biofuels are causing more problems for the
climate than they solve."

One person complained to the <http://www.asa.org.uk/> ASA that the ad was
misleading, arguing that UK biofuels are produced from biomass sourced in
the UK so they would not affect the habitats of exotic animals.

After examining the evidence provided by the charity, the ASA ruled that the
UK does not exclusively use nationally produced biofuels and that some are
imported from other countries.

The ASA's ruling said: "Wildlife habitats, such as those of the animals
depicted in the ad, have already been adversely affected and could continue
to be adversely affected."

http://www.asa.org.uk/asa/adjudications/Public/TF_ADJ_45028.htm


ASA Adjudications

RSPB


The Lodge


Sandy


Bedfordshire


SG19 2DL




Number of complaints: 1


Date:

24 September 2008


Media:

National press


Sector:

Non-commercial







Ad
A national press ad, by The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
(RSPB), stated "Don't put wildlife in your tank." The ad featured a
photograph of a petrol pump with a crocodile seeming to come out of the
nozzle; three butterflies, an elephant, a leopard cub and an exotic bird
also featured. Text continued "The Government plans to put biofuels in the
UK's transport fuel from April. Sounds like a good idea, right? Wrong.
The drive for biofuels is wiping out precious wildlife habitats. And some
biofuels are causing more problems for the climate than they solve. A deal
in Europe to force us to increase the amount we use could make things even
worse. Why wreck our planet while pretending to save it? It makes no
sense. Speak up before it's too late. Visit www.rspb.org.uk/biofuelsaction
to urge Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly to ditch this misguided policy. RSPB
a million voices for nature."

Issue
The complainant challenged whether the ad was misleading. He understood
that UK biofuels were produced from biomass sourced in the UK and would
therefore not adversely affect the habitats of exotic animals in the way the
ad implied that they would.


The CAP Code:

3.1 <http://www.asa.org.uk/asa/codes/cap_code/ShowCode.htm?clause_id=1489>
;7.1 <http://www.asa.org.uk/asa/codes/cap_code/ShowCode.htm?clause_id=1502>
;49.1 <http://www.asa.org.uk/asa/codes/cap_code/ShowCode.htm?clause_id=1764>
;49.3 <http://www.asa.org.uk/asa/codes/cap_code/ShowCode.htm?clause_id=1764>

Response
RSPB said publicly available government, academic and industry sources
confirmed that a proportion of biofuels sold in the UK were, and would
continue to be, derived from tropical feedstock such as palm, soya and
sugarcane. They sent the ASA full copies of their sources, which included
documents published by the European Commission and the Department for
Transport, and extracted key quotes which supported their view. RSPB
explained that the World Trade Organisation (WTO) prohibited national
governments from stipulating that only domestically produced feedstock and
biofuels be sold in national markets. They added that there was no formal
requirement for UK biofuel producers, refiners or vendors to source
sustainable feedstock or biofuels; such regulations would not be imposed
until 2011. The supply of biofuels in the UK was therefore determined by
the industry and depended largely upon the availability of home-grown
feedstock and the price competitiveness of imported crops. RSPB said the
UK's largest supplier of biofuels openly admitted that a significant
proportion of their biofuels were made from tropical feedstock and sent
documentary evidence of that.

RSPB said the Government was committed to ensuring, under its Renewable
Transport Fuels Obligation (RTFO), that a minimum of 2.5% of UK petrol and
diesel was made up of biofuels. They said tropical rainforests, grasslands
and wetlands were therefore under direct or indirect threat from demand for
biofuels. By way of example, they said, even if only 5% of the biofuel
required to meet this target was made from palm oil, that equated to
approximately 15,000 hectares of land, a proportion of which was likely to
have been carbon and wildlife-rich forests before its change of use to the
production of crops for biofuel purposes.

RSPB explained the nature of the threats to wildlife and sent case studies
published by BirdLife International and scientific journal articles in
support. For example, they told us that, as the trend for converting
traditional vegetable oils, such as rapeseed and sunflower seed, into
biodiesel continued, a gap in the market was created and was being filled by
increased production of palm oil. RSPB said that had significantly
contributed to the destruction of much of South East Asia's rainforests.

They confirmed that all the species in the ad occupied habitats which faced
destruction on account of the demand for biofuels. They said the natural
habitat of the particular species of elephant and crocodile in the ad were
under threat because of plans for a large scale sugar plantation in Kenya;
the natural habitats of a leopard, bird and two species of butterfly were
under threat from deforestation for the production of palm oil in South East
Asia; the remaining species of butterfly was native to Central and South
America, where rainforest had been destroyed to produce more soybean crop.

RSPB concluded by stating that UK biofuels contained non-UK biomass sources
and that non-UK biomass for UK biofuels adversely impacted upon the habitats
of the species featured in the ad.

Assessment
Not upheld
The ASA understood that the ad referred to the Government's plan, the RTFO,
to include a minimum of 2.5% biofuel in all petrol and diesel sold at UK
pumps from April 2008. We understood that the use of biofuels was a subject
of much debate with strong views on both sides; there were those who
believed biofuels made transport fuels more environmentally friendly and
those who considered that they endangered food security and damaged natural
habitats.

We considered that readers of the ad were likely to infer from the
statements "The drive for biofuels is wiping out precious wildlife habitats.
And some biofuels are causing more problems for the climate than they
solve." that some, but not all biofuels adversely affected wildlife
habitats. We noted the ad contained the headline claim "Don't put wildlife
in your tank" and further stated "A deal in Europe to force us to increase
the amount we use could make things even worse." We considered readers were
likely to interpret those statements to mean that some, but not all,
biofuels to be used in transport fuels in the UK would be sourced from crops
grown elsewhere in the world and that the use of biofuels could adversely
affect wildlife habitats. We noted the claim was conditional, not absolute,
and the UK did not exclusively use nationally produced biofuels; some were
likely to be imported from other countries.

We noted wildlife habitats had already been affected and some could be put
at risk if standards were not put in place to ensure that biofuels were
sustainably sourced. We understood that no such standards existed at the
present time but that, in order to encourage suppliers to source sustainable
biofuels, the Renewable Fuels Agency (RFA), the body set up by the
Government to implement the RTFO, required suppliers to submit reports on
the net greenhouse gas emissions reductions achieved by the biofuels they
supplied. They also had to report on the sustainability of the biofuels
they supplied. However, we noted mandatory compliance with minimum levels
of performance on greenhouse gas emissions reductions and sustainability
would not come into effect until 2010 and 2011 respectively.

We considered that readers were likely to infer that the animals featured
were examples of the types of animals whose habitats were being affected and
which could continue to be affected as a result of the UK's RTFO. We
understood that populations of some of the species in the ad were either
under threat because there had already been damage to their habitats, such
as the destruction of South East Asian rainforests for palm oil production,
or faced threat in the future because of plans to grow crops for biofuels in
their natural habitats, such as the plan for a sugarcane plantation in
Kenya. We therefore understood that wildlife habitats, such as those of the
animals depicted in the ad, had already been adversely affected and could
continue to be adversely affected because of the UK's commitment under the
RTFO. We concluded that the ad was unlikely to mislead.

We investigated the ad under CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation), 7.1
(Truthfulness), 49.1 and 49.3 (Environmental claims) but did not find it in
breach.

Action
No further action necessary.


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Monday, September 29, 2008

[biofuelwatch] Digest Number 785



There are 2 messages in this issue.

Topics in this digest:

1. Translation of "Small Farmers as guinea pigs"
From: somalicat_uk

2. Guatemala: Lachua, a Corner of the Jungle Resists
From: almuthbernstinguk


Messages
________________________________________________________________________
1. Translation of "Small Farmers as guinea pigs"
Posted by: "somalicat_uk" j.ennis@gold.ac.uk somalicat_uk
Date: Sun Sep 28, 2008 2:02 am ((PDT))


This is the translation of the German article that appeared a few
weeks ago.
JANE ENNIS

**************************************************

SMALL FARMERS AS GUINEA PIGS

Not a Wonder Nut: contrary to the opinion of the bio-fuel industry,
Jatropha too is only profitable with the application of water and
(chemical) fertilisers.

The Indian government is planning to plant 12 million
hectares of "waste land" with Jatropha shrubs and Indian beech trees
for the extraction of bio-fuel. Millions of landless people and
pastoral communities will thus lose the basis of their livelihood.
Simultaneously, small/peasant farmers are being enticed with
financial support to be guinea-pigs for the cultivation of bio-fuel
crops.
The rice fields of Nalgonda, a district of the Southern
Indian State of Andrha Pradesh, are completely dehydrated. It
appears that there was no monsoon this year in the region, which is
only irrigated by rainfall. Its vulnerability to drought makes it a
suitable candidate for the government-sponsored cultivation of bio-
fuel crops.
In 2006-2007, as part of the national bio-fuel programme, the
local authorities persuaded 88 farming families to plant Jatropha in
their fields and on community land. Unfortunately, the project turned
out to be a disaster over the entire 62 acres. Several farmers
uprooted the plants, which simply did not flourish. This, however,
did not prevent the government from giving the same farmers, via a
private firm, seedlings of Indian Beech (pongamia pinnata), another
bio-fuel crop.

GRAZING LAND DISPLACED
One of the villages of the district is Theriala. This is
where the Indian government planted 26 hectares, which had been
allocated in 1992 to the poorest and landless castes and tribes, with
Indian Beech. Indrala Ailiya is one of the farmers affected. "We have
always plated sesame and mung beans on this land. During drought
years we used it as pasture for our livestock", he explains. The
farmers from the village had frequently asked in vain for government
assistance for the cultivation of mango and orange trees. "Now we are
suddenly getting support and fixed purchase price for cultivating
Indian Beech. Of course most people go along with this", he says. But
what if the crop fails? To this he has no answer.
"Until recently there was no demand for bio-fuel crops", says
K. Chari from the local NGO SHARP. "But in view of the desolate
situation in agriculture, the farmers in desperate straits allow
themselves to be enticed by financial support, especially since they
cannot assess the risks". Sagari Rama from Anthra, an organisation
working with pastoral communities, adds, "In recent years, a vast
amount of grazing land has been turned over to other uses".
Earlier, the farmers of Nalgonda had leased fallow or waste
land to pastoral communities. "But now they are cultivating Jatropha
or Indian Beech, which has a direct effect on the livelihood of the
cattle-herders". Then there is the enormous consumption of water:
every hectare of Indian Beech requires about 2,500 litres of water
every 15 days. This is a tremendous amount of water in a dry area.

NOT A `MIRACLE NUT'
The experiences in Nalgonda destroy the Jatropha-myth,
according to which the `easy-care-miracle-nut' could flourish in arid
zones without irrigation and maintenance. According to Mohammed Osman
of the Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (CIDRA) in
Hyderabad, the national experiences with Jatropha demonstrate that,
like every other agricultural crop, it requires fertile land,
irrigation, fertiliser and pesticides. "In fact the use of pesticide
with Jatropha can be even higher, as it is vulnerable to many of the
same pests that affect other agricultural crops".
The cultivation practices of the National Institute of the
Study of Energy (TERI) in the eastern coastal district of Godvari
confirm Osman's testimony. TERI has concluded a 9.4 million dollar
investment agreement with BP. The plan is to plant 8,000 hectares
with bio-diesel crops. About 525, 000 Jatropha seedlings have already
been distributed. TERI has concluded repurchase agreements with local
famers and has made available genetically modified seedlings, which
promise a quicker yield. TERI co-ordinator Bramahananda makes it
clear that "pesticides are needed for productive cultivation".
This is also obvious in the region of Rotulapi, Mandal, where
the Jatropha plants are flourishing in accordance with TERI. However,
the many fields with mango and banana trees, palms and tobacco plants
make it clear that this is in no way a wasteland. In one of the
villages a farmer under contract to TERI has planted Jatropha. The
plant is flourishing splendidly, but it requires the usual
application of pesticides.
"All previous problems have been dismissed with the argument
that we are still in the experimental phase. The question is, though,
at whose expense?" reflects R.P. Kumar, representative of a local
NGO. "As long as the risks are high, the farmers are involved as
guinea-pigs. As soon as there is an indication of profit,
international corporations are at the door". The fact that multi-
nationals such as BP, Daimler-Chrysler and others are making
strenuous efforts to gain a foothold in the Indian bio-fuel business
indicates that his fears are not unfounded.
EXISTENCE THREATENED
These are typical examples of what is occurring in many
regions of India, such as Chattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan, the
pioneers of the national Jatropha-wave. Large monocultures on
agricultural land, woodland and nature reserves have given rise to
the concern that bio-fuel crops could have a very negative effect on
bio-diversity. "In spite of these concerns and the fact that this is
in effect an `experimental phase', the government is continuing to
set aside dedicated land for the cultivation of bio-fuel crops, and
to create new authorities for the bio-fuel programme", says Ashok
Sharma, an experienced journalist.
When the national `bio-fuel mission' began in 2003, the
target to be reached was defined as 10 million hectares of wasteland.
But the government and the advocates of bio-fuel had claimed that in
India, because of the use of wasteland, this would lead neither to
expulsions nor to competition for land. Many NGOs, however, criticise
the programme precisely because the so-called wasteland is important
for feeding millions of Indians. Over 70% of the population of India
makes a living from agriculture.
The liberalisation of agricultural markets since the 1990s
has proved catastrophic for millions of small farmers. Since 1997,
15,000 farmers have committed suicide in India. Extensive cultivation
of bio-fuel crops at the expense of traditional agriculture will
further increase the difficulties of countless families.

**********************************************************************
*****


Messages in this topic (1)
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
2. Guatemala: Lachua, a Corner of the Jungle Resists
Posted by: "almuthbernstinguk" almuth@ernsting.wanadoo.co.uk almuthbernstinguk
Date: Sun Sep 28, 2008 5:59 am ((PDT))

http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=44042

Roberto Samayoa

A park under threat from human activities.

Credit:Inforpress Centroamericana

GUATEMALA CITY, Sep 27 (Tierramérica) - Guatemala's Laguna Lachuá
National Park is a small corner of the Central American jungle that
has withstood the encroachment of oil exploration, monoculture crops
and road building, and serves as the area for sustainable development
projects run by the indigenous people who live there.

The park extends across 14,500 hectares in the central department
(province) of Alta Verapaz, the heart of a larger "eco-region" of
55,000 hectares that is home to the Q'eqchies peoples.

In their language, "lachuá" means "foul-smelling water", referring to
the smell of sulphur in the lake. Located in the Ixcán zone, on
the "Northern Transversal Strip", the jungle in the area remained
untouched because it was used as a hunting range by the Guatemalan
army.

Today it is administered by the National Forest Institute (INAB), the
Ministry of Agriculture and the National Council for Protected Areas
(CONAP).

The Lachuá project emerged 10 years ago, on the initiative of the
World Conservation Union (IUCN). It is carried out by the
abovementioned Guatemalan government bodies, with the support of the
government of the Netherlands, and the involvement of local
communities and the municipality of Cobán.

The participatory development model, which involves the 55 indigenous
communities in the area, has led to positive results, project
coordinator José López told Tierramérica.

The Q'eqchies are entrusted with preserving 1,994 hectares of forest,
and for their work they received 82,000 dollars from INAB in 2006-07.
In the same period, forest production from 1,290 hectares brought in
more than 617,000 dollars, said López.

Tourism routes were developed in El Peyán Canyon, Rocjá Postila, the
Salinas Nueve Cerros estate, and the lake, Laguna Lachuá.
Furthermore, the community members have planted 9.6 hectares of
pineapple. The goal is to reach about 50 hectares, with harvests
providing a livelihood for 110 families.

In addition, some 200 people manage 2,000 beehives that produce
honey, with plans to expand to 5,000 hives that would provide income
for 300 families.

Also planted in the area are avocados, lemons, oranges, chilli
peppers and cacao. In 2006, 70,000 cacao seeds were imported and
planted on 98 hectares, providing a marketable crop but also
increasing the absorption of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas.

In the Chixoy River, the residents raise tilapia fish, with the aim
of harvesting 60,000 adults every six months.

In 2005, the indigenous communities created two Community Development
Councils (COCODES) responsible for improving access to the eco-
region, building eight schools, administering a scholarship fund and
providing electricity to three communities.

The following year the Lachuá Park was declared a Ramsar wetlands
site by the United Nations, due to its important role as habitat for
animal species, especially migratory birds.

But this is no Garden of Eden. There is heavy pressure in the area to
expand farmland, drill for oil and build highways.

Destruction in the area began in the 1970s, according to Luis Solan,
in his study "Northern Transversal Strip: Neo-Colonisation On the
March", when high-ranking military officers and business
executives "dedicated themselves… to the accumulation of land in
order to open the way for livestock and the exploitation of lumber
resources."

Encroachments on the land have not disappeared, although López said
that there have been no problems so far in the protected area itself.

In the park's buffer zone, where the project is being carried out, 90
percent of the indigenous people are landowners. If more rural
settlers establish themselves there it would amount to illegal
seizure of land.

There are six communities facing possible relocation from the buffer
zone and the park itself, according to Raúl López, from the Agrarian
Affairs Secretariat.

Two communities, which only work in the buffer zone, will be
relocated. The other four occupied the land after it was declared a
protected area, so "there is a possibility that they will be
expelled" as well, he told Tierramérica.

According to Solano, oil palm -- to produce biodiesel -- is grown on
55,000 hectares in Guatemala, but there are plans to expand to
150,000 hectares by 2012. Monoculture is advancing with the purchase
of communal lands. The peasant farmers who sell off their property
then move elsewhere to settle other land.

Green Earth Fuels, property of the Carlyle Group, Riverstone Holdings
and Goldman Sachs investment funds, acquired more than 25,000
hectares this year in La Soledad, Rubelsanto, Playitas and Ixcan --
the latter three located near Lachuá.

Furthermore, the Truestar Petroleum Corporation holds the licence for
exploiting crude oil in Tortugas and Atzam, 20 kilometres west of the
Rubelsanto oil fields, also located near Lachuá.

In September 2005, PetroLatina Energy also obtained a licence to
operate in Tortugas and Atzam, in an area of 31,000 hectares that
includes parts of the buffer zone around the park.

Meanwhile, the plan to build a highway through the Northern
Transversal Strip has been postponed. For now it is a gravel road
that would be turned into a 330-km highway as part of the plans for
connecting Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and Honduras.

The project, granted by the government to the Solel Boneh company,
does not include considerations for preserving the environment, nor
does it question the planned road that would run through the heart of
Lachuá park.

The current road follows "the edge of the park, which does not affect
wildlife because it does not have much traffic," CONAP deputy
secretary Gerardo Paiz told Tierramérica.

Modifying the route "depends on the government's political posture,
given that the conservation of protected areas is gaining more
importance day by day," said López.

Carlos Salvatierra believes that "if we don't conserve and
ecologically recuperate other areas that are interconnected with
Lachuá, it will be isolated and that endangers the quality of its
ecosystems."

One of the problems facing Guatemala's protected areas is "their lack
of connection and the reduced size of many of them," he told
Tierramérica.

López and Salvatierra agree that this model could be replicated
elsewhere if it involves the local communities in the management of
the natural resources.

When the Lachuá project draws to a close in 2009, its continuity will
have to be taken up by five local organisations: the two COCODES and
three farm partnerships, through the Lachuá Fund, which was set up in
2007 and unites the communities living in the 55,000- hectare "eco-
region."

(*This story was originally published by Latin American newspapers
that are part of the Tierramérica network. Tierramérica is a
specialised news service produced by IPS with the backing of the
United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Environment
Programme and the World Bank.)

Messages in this topic (1)

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

[biofuelwatch] Digest Number 784



There is 1 message in this issue.

Topics in this digest:

1. Palm oil has "bottomed"; RSPB wins against challenge to advert
From: Jim Roland


Message
________________________________________________________________________
1. Palm oil has "bottomed"; RSPB wins against challenge to advert
Posted by: "Jim Roland" quailrecords@hotmail.com jimroland99
Date: Sat Sep 27, 2008 2:55 pm ((PDT))


1. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601091&sid=aVgWbjEHiQAc

Palm Oil Has ``Bottomed,'' OilWorld's Mielke Says (Update1)
By Claire Leow and Pratik Parija
Sept. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Palm oil prices have ``bottomed'' and will be supported by falling supplies of rival soybean oil and rising demand for biodiesel, Thomas Mielke, chief editor of OilWorld, a trade publication, said.
``Palm oil prices are currently undervalued,'' he told a conference in Mumbai today. ``Prices have bottomed, or are near the bottom of the cycle.''
Palm oil, the world's most consumed vegetable oil, can be mixed with regular diesel to stretch fossil fuel supplies. The price of the tropical oil has fallen by half from a record in March amid concerns that global supply may exceed demand.
Global palm oil production will increase 5.7 percent to 44.7 million tons in the year to September 2009, lagging behind a 7.3 percent gain in consumption, said Mielke.
``The use of soybean oil for biofuels will rise in the U.S., Brazil and Argentina, which means their supplies of soybean oil to the world market will fall'' by as much as 3.8 million tons, he said. Palm oil, a substitute, can fill this gap, he said.
Indonesia's palm oil production may grow 9.4 percent to 18.6 million tons this year and slow in 2009, said Derom Bangun, head of the Indonesian Palm Oil Association, at the Mumbai conference. In 2007, production grew 6.9 percent to 17 million tons, he said.
Malaysia may produce 17.6 million tons in the year ending September 2009, said Mielke. Indonesia may increase output by 2 million tons to a record 20.7 million tons in the period.
Alternative Fuels
Vegetable oils made from soybeans, corn, rapeseeds and oil palms, used mostly in food, are increasingly being used to make alternative fuels to reduce the cost of fossil energy. Crude oil rose 2.4 percent this week to $106.89 a barrel in New York.
December-delivery palm oil rose 1.5 percent to 2,313 ringgit ($673) a ton on the Malaysia Derivatives Exchange on Friday. The futures have gained 2.4 percent this week, the first weekly gain in more than a month.
Palm oil may trade between 2,700 and 2,900 ringgit, Mielke forecast Sept. 4. Prices may rise to average $1,120 a ton in the year to June 2009, up from an average $1,041 in the previous year.
The tropical oil may trade between 2,200-2,300 ringgit a ton for remainder of the year, said James Fry, managing director at LMC International, a commodity and biofuel research company, at the conference today.
Soybean oil will probably trade between $750 and $1,000 a ton between now and January, said Nicolas Backer, a trader with Nidera Handelscompagnie B.V., based in Rotterdam. He has traded edible oils for six years.
Prices may reach as high as $1,200 a ton next year if the new crop in South America is damaged by the worst drought in at least two decades, he said at the conference.
``If there's a crop failure, we could have a bull market of $1,400 a ton,'' he said.
Soybean oil traded in Chicago gained 1.1 percent to 47.93 cents a bushel, or $1,057 a ton.
To contact the reporter on this story: Claire Leow in Singapore at cleow@bloomberg.net
Last Updated: September 27, 2008 09:14 EDT


2. http://www.rspb.org.uk/news/details.asp?id=tcm:9-199414

Biofuels complaint thrown out

Last modified: 25 September 2008
Traffic - Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has dismissed a complaint about a national newspaper advert warning against biofuels.
The authority rejected the claim, against an RSPB ad, that UK biofuels were safe for exotic wildlife because they were made from domestic sources.
The ad, published in The Times and Guardian in February 2008, said: 'Don't put wildlife in your tank…the drive for biofuels is wiping out precious wildlife habitats'.
The ASA denied the advert was misleading. It highlighted the warning that some, but not all, biofuel production for the UK market was causing habitat destruction and the loss of wildlife.
The ruling said: "We noted wildlife habitats had already been affected and some could be put at risk if standards were not put in place to ensure that biofuels were sustainably sourced. We understood that no such standards existed at the present time…[and that] mandatory compliance with minimum levels of performance on greenhouse gas emissions reductions and sustainability would not come into effect until 2010 and 2011 respectively."
It added that the ASA "understood that wildlife habitats, such as those of the animals depicted in the ad, had already been adversely affected and could continue to be adversely affected because of the UK's commitment under [biofuels legislation]. We concluded that the ad was unlikely to mislead."
Demand for biofuels, particularly from Europe and the US, is encouraging the widespread clearance of rainforest, peatlands and wetlands for biofuel crops.
The proposed drainage for sugarcane cultivation of parts of the Tana Delta in Kenya was an example of a site under threat, the ASA said.
At least 2.5 per cent of fuel sold on UK forecourts must by law be biofuel but the European Commission could this month raise that figure to nearly 12.5 per cent by 2010.
Dr Mark Avery, the RSPB's Conservation Director, said: "The ASA has accepted the overwhelming evidence that biofuels are damaging wildlife and wildlife habitats. Its ruling comes at a crucial time with the EU, backed by the UK government, set to force us to buy even more biofuel without knowing where it has come from or the harm that its production has caused.
"We should be putting the brakes on biofuels until their manufacture is no longer responsible for the vast and irreparable environmental destruction we are seeing today."
Some biofuels are known to increase greenhouse gases compared to their fossil fuel equivalents. A recent report for the UK government found that more than 80 per cent of biofuels were not meeting voluntary environmental standards set by UK legislation.
A previous study urged UK and EU ministers to moderate new biofuels targets until the impacts of biofuels were known and safeguards to protect wildlife were in place.

[Ends]
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Friday, September 26, 2008

[biofuelwatch] Digest Number 783



There are 4 messages in this issue.

Topics in this digest:

1. Version 1.2: Common defences of biofuel targets (EU and UK) and how
From: Jim Roland

2. WEST PAPUA: Malaysian Investors to Open Oil Palm Plantations in Pap
From: Richard Samuelson

3. Rebellion in MEPs' environment committee on car emissions
From: Jim Roland

4. FYI: ..satisfying 30% of gasoline demand easily with biofuels...
From: Christian Kerschner


Messages
________________________________________________________________________
1. Version 1.2: Common defences of biofuel targets (EU and UK) and how
Posted by: "Jim Roland" quailrecords@hotmail.com jimroland99
Date: Thu Sep 25, 2008 7:29 am ((PDT))


Hi all,

This version pulls in a critique of the industry committee proposal including Biofuelwatch's notes on this, and has a new URL for a read-only version of the OECD report as they have pulled the other free version.

Regards,

Jim


Common defences of biofuel targets (EU and UK) and how to answer them "The costs of EU biofuels outweigh the benefits" - EU Joint Research Centre report, 2008 [1] Introductory remarks - for discussion with MEP or MP (i) When collecting signatures for postcards against EU biofuel targets, I have explained how biofuel incentives have meant many more people hungry this year than last, and have also helped accelerate rainforest destruction so accelerating overall climate change. Furthermore, biofuels are an extremely inefficient way to use land to source energy, and with world land resources becoming ever more scarce, in most cases this is not the way to go and that is why we are opposing targets for biofuel use. The vast majority of people signed the card in response. Almost the only people refusing were two involved in biofuel research and one from an agricultural area, who when I put more specific questions to them didn't wish to answer. Who are you representing, and do you feel obliged to represent these minority interest groups against both the majority of voters and their common sense view, and against our commitments to Millennium Goals, that are being set back 7 years by food inflation according to the World Bank [2]? Introductory remarks (ii) Almost the only people benefiting from biofuel targets and the resultant high food prices are arable farmers, being turned millionnaires. Almost everyone and everything else is being seriously harmed as a result. It is costing to our economies, means more hunger, this harms developing economies, many of their rural communities are being displaced, it's accelerating climate change, tropical deforestation, probably animal welfare. [For net cost to our economies see the OECD and JRC reports below [3].] And it is accelerating the depletion of mineral phosphorus (for fertilizers) [4], and groundwater in some countries, meaning an even harder future food shock for humanity. As a politician you would not suddenly give all nurses, teachers or policemen a million- or multi-million pound bonus award, let alone at a such a huge cost to most other human concerns, so why are you making an exception for arable farmers in this way, by continuing to support biofuel targets? It is making arable farmers dramatically richer than under the Common Agricultural Policy [5], at a much bigger cost to society and the world than the CAP - at least the CAP made food cheap for people. Now we are making these farmers rich by ensuring there is not enough food to go round (the combined effect of biofuel incentives and more meat and dairy consumption worldwide). Introductory remarks (iii) There are also a number of parallels to Chairman Mao's Great Leap Forward when millions starved through enforced industrial programmes including set targets for all Chinese rural districts to produce steel so as to add to increase domestic production, which saw villages depleted of pots and pans and local timber for local furnaces. Steel itself is not evil, but the programme was wrong and would not have been made right if they had made iron ore the source of all the local production rather than existing metal artefacts. What was wrong to have steel output driven by top-down quantity targets, and furthermore its output from rural land to be driven by top-down quantity targets. To continue with biofuel targets is not the judgment of Solomon, it would be the judgment of Chairman Mao or Stalin. Calls for a halt to incentives for biofuels from grains and oilseeds in the global North, or their use, or an end to such incentives, have now variously been made by the heads of the IMF, IFPRI and IRRI, economists C. Ford Runge and Jeffrey Sachs, former IPCC head (and Defra advisor) Robert Watson, Friends of the Earth, Oxfam, Cafod, Greenpeace, the RSPB, the Environmental Audit Committee and 31 MPs, the Green Party (England, Wales), the US Republican Party; the New York Times, New Statesman, Financial Times, The Guardian and Christian Science Monitor (editorials). 1. "We need to cut emissions in all areas, and there are few ways of doing so now in the transport sector, compared with other sectors..." - Overall it is not clear whether agrofuels are doing more to hinder or help emissions savings, as the EU's scientific Joint Research Centre (JRC) states [1]. - Do we need to starve people now by using foodstuffs? Not only are biofuel incentives a major cause of the current food crisis, but they are the one major lever the developed world has to relieve it. Key recent reports include ActionAid's which found that hundreds of millions have been thrown into food insecurity in addition to the hundreds of millions who already were food insecure [6], and a World Bank report which attributed 75% of recent grain inflation to biofuels [7]. - Each unit of food diverted for biofuel is a unit less to be eaten, and if we create a 5% shortfall in staple foods, the effect is not that all from the richest to the poorest eat 5% less, it's those who can least afford it who are forced most to cut back by price rises. Malnutrition has long-term effects on development and susceptibility to disease, and so biofuel diversion is conflicting in many ways with Millennium Goals. The World Bank reports warns that food price rises are setting back progress against poverty by 7 years [2]. - The UK was a net importer of food anyway [8], and consumes more eco-commodities overall than it has sovereign capacity to produce, according to WWF data 2006 (for 2003) [9].- With the same amount of land or solid biomass you can achieve much greater emissions savings using them to replace coal or to make materials, than for biofuels for transport, more cheaply, according to the EU's scientific Joint Research Centre (JRC) [1]. - Who says you need to make cuts in the transport sector when you can make bigger cuts with the same resources in other ways (see previous answer)? Biofuels can only replace a small fraction of petroleum anyway, and we are only postponing a major revolution to alternatives to the internal combustion engine, such as electric cars, that would achieve much more both for climate change and human health. - Most biofuels do not cut emissions "now" at all. As most recently evaluated by Fargione et al and Searchinger et al [10], agrofuels (liquid biofuels for transport from planted crops or forestry), tend to result in a major discharge of greenhouse gases (CO2, also N2O or nitrous oxide) as additional land is cultivated for the purpose, that negates the biofuel savings for decades or centuries. US corn-ethanol has displaced other food production to South America accelerating deforestation there; diversion of rapeseed oil for bioenergy in Europe has led to increased palm oil imports to make up. - The JRC concluded "the costs of EU biofuels outweigh the benefits" [1]. A major study for the Swiss Government [11] concluded that if all the impacts of agrofuels are considered, most have a worse total impact than petroleum fuels. The threat to orang-utans from oil palm expansion is only one of a huge, ever-multiplying range of impacts across South America, Africa and South Asia on exotic often endangered wildlife, and rural communities. - Since the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation is mostly being fulfilled by biodiesel [11], and the consumption of more vegetable oils as a whole stimulates more palm oil to be grown (vegetable oil prices are interlinked as they are interchangeable for many applications), it may be that the incentivised growing of palm oil alone is doing more to hasten 2°C warming than avoid it. The increasing production of palm oil on peatland causes 30x more CO2 emissions than it saves, or would take over 420 years to recoup the CO2 debt it causes (through oxidation of the drained peat), according to two major recent studies, respectively [10]. ...but at least the EU industry committee recommended requiring biofuels to make 60% carbon emissions savings by 2015" - The targets and this emissions savings requirement are essentially contradictory goals, likely to be fudged in favour of industry - already the Council of Europe wants to change it to 50% by 2017 [21]. The JRC [1] was unable to advise of any direction in which biofuels could expand that would clearly help against climate change if the full emissions, including direct and indirect land-use change, were considered. - Already, the UK's Carbon and Sustainability Reporting guidelines allow palm oil grown on peatland, which the science says causes 30x more emissions than it saves or take 420 years to recoup [10], to be labelled as making a carbon saving over 20 years [22], and who is stopping it? Biofuelwatch has exposed similar room for fudges in the EU legislation [23], which would not stop the loss of all lowland forest in Borneo and Sumatra by 2012. 2. "Biofuel targets are needed to encourage the development of second generation biofuels... - Why is it governments' job to ensure second generation biofuels are developed? (taken to mean biofuels produced from tougher biomass like wood, crop stalks and husks, tall grasses) They would use limited resources (land, biomass) and save far fewer emissions than using them to replace coal or to make materials, yet at more expense [1]. So even a target only for second generation biofuels would be wrong and detract from better uses of the same resources. - Second generation ethanol is likely to remain much more expensive than first generation by 2020, according to both the JRC and a recent Iowa State University study [13]. So any target which both first and second generation ethanol can fulfil will simply lead to the building of first generation ethanol plants first, until they fulfil the target. Nobody would invest in second generation plants to compete with them. - The JRC [1] warned that second generation ethanol would cost approximately double first generation (p16), and not have a guaranteed supply - it could require a lot of forestry imports. As for using crop residues, this year adverse weather now means there is now a shortage of hay and straw in the UK - so how can a target make sense when supplies are not guaranteed? ...or third generation biofuels i.e. from algae." - Why does biodiesel from first generation agricultural sources qualify for the targets then? Again, anyone who builds biodiesel plants in the EU in response to these targets will then demand that governments maintain incentives to keep them profitable. Meanwhile there is no strong sign that from more 'advanced' sources of biodiesel will ever become viable, large-scale, to replace current crop feedstocks. E.g. algae have been researched for decades as a fuel source without no proven breakthrough. - If you want to encourage biofuels from algae why not simply offer a fuel duty discount for biofuel from this source? Anyway, if a genuine breakthrough occurred to deliver biofuels from algae at much higher acreage yields than planted crops (which is the attraction of algae), at low cost on a large scale (which is the object of research), then almost everyone would support in principle its production in desert areas. This will be obvious to anyone researching it, or investing in this research. 3. "Pull back on biofuels and the renewables industry would lose confidence" - If there is a pullback on biofuels, everyone will know it is because of concerns over hunger and ecological destruction. The incentives, hurdles and objections for other renewable sources or schemes are different, and aren't going to change. - In the United States renewables are now considered a good investment with the exception of ethanol, where investors are pulling out anyway [14]. - Biofuels have probably been diverting investment from other renewables, not helping them. Their high cost per unit of emissions saved [3] (if there is a true saving at all) means they are detracting economically from investing in emissions savings in other ways, as well as the targets unnecessarily hurting economies/worsening recession. - Biofuels are different from other renewables in the sheer amount of land they require, generally several orders of magnitude more. The technologies that come closest are biomass for solid fuel and hydro dams. At least each hydro dam has to be approved individually. Biofuel mandates export a whole wave of ecological destruction. 4. "It would cause economic disruption to pull back on biofuel targets..." - The JRC noted that the total discounted net cost of biofuel subsidies in Europe based on a rise to 10% targets from 2007-2020 ranges between Euro 33 - 65 billion with 80% probability [1], even in their best case assumptions; that these costs would increase further if there were a partial forcing to use second generation biofuels; that the targets may not be helping save emissions at all, and conflict with more effective, cheaper ways to do it. So, they are unnecessarily worsening recession. - Biofuel targets come at a net cost to OECD economies, costing a whopping USD 960 - 1700 per tonne of CO2-equivalent emissions abated, according major OECD analyst report ("Biofuel policies in OECD countries costly and ineffective") [3]. That is, if they are helping save emissions at all; the JRC warns they may not be, and conflict with more effective, cheaper ways to do it [1]. (For comparison, the Environment Agency estimates that Carbon Capture and Storage would cost GBP 17 - 90 per tonne of CO2 abated - see Environmental Audit Committee report on CCS - and most governments are balking at that cost as it is). The OECD report estimates they will cost USD 25 billion a year over US, Canada and EU by 2015. In addition, there are the huge costs in terms of higher food prices in the North, and, in social terms, even greater uncosted effects on hunger, human rights and the environment in the South. Food aid from OECD countries is having to increase dramatically as a result, and that itself is to some extent a tail-chasing exercise, as it is outbidding other poor purchasers for scarce food after the affluent have bought theirs. - They are turning arable farmers into millionnaires and also enriching some biofuel industry interests, but impoverish just about everyone else. "...and they help insulate against oil shocks and the need to buy energy from dangerous or repressive regimes" - The JRC have pointed out that strategic oil storage facilities would be a much cheaper way of insuring against oil shocks, and their assessment that "The costs of EU biofuels outweigh the benefits" [1] itself allowed for this benefit, costed as the cost of providing the equivalent oil storage facilities, which governments have not chosen to do. [Addendum: Charles Tannock MEP informs me the EU is now making moves in this direction.] - You are right to be concerned about certain regimes, but good ways to address this and other issues is to promote fuel efficiency in cars (new & existing), battery and trolleybus technology, and alternatives to car travel. With biofuels (apart from using waste cooking oil etc.) you are throwing up more problems than you save, including geo-political, as follows: - The OECD [3] notes that in 2007, biofuels used 8% of world coarse grain production and 9% of world vegetable oil production, yet supplied only 1.8% of world transport fuel energy, or about 1.3% if you exclude Brazilian ethanol from sugarcane! Plus a lot of oil goes into other uses - the JRC notes "EU burns almost as much oil in stationary applications as it does in transport diesel engines" [1, p23]. Plus, biofuel production itself requires substantial oil for tractors and fertilizer, and often consumes additional natural gas [1, p26]. Overall, the above figures suggest that the % saving in world oil production achieved is an order of magnitude less than the corresponding % drain on cereals and veg-oil. So, whilse you might marginally and temporarily dampen the influence of oil producers, this is to a much smaller degree than you are impacting on food prices. Recent food price rises have caused widespread food supply stress and civil unrest for example in Egypt, Pakistan, India and Yemen: how do you cost the new geopolitical dangers these present? - Or we might use second generation biofuels, at approximately double the unit cost of first generation biofuels, as the JRC warned, also with major scarcity of supply issues (see 2. above). - Progressively, if the land needed is made up by clearing more rainforest, this will mean discharging so much carbon as to make it harder to avoid dangerous climate change [10] than with the equivalent petroleum. There are huge geopolitical consequences of dangerous climate change. Loss of Himalayan meltwater to the great rivers of south Asia and south China will seriously diminish the food supply for a huge number of people. In the longer term there will be the climate refugees from rising sea levels; and climate change is progressively exacerbating water scarcity across the Middle East. - A collapse of the Amazon rainforest, which is threatened jointly by climate change and an expansion of South American farming (see 10. on sugar cane and references) will reduce rainfall to the US Midwest breadbasket according to the most respected model [17], as well as accelerating climate change by releasing carbon. This rainfall direction is one of many ecosystem services provided by natural biodiverse forests, grasslands and wetlands. Studies show that, in comparison, monoculture crops tend to lead to more extreme regional climate. 5. "But we can use "set-aside land", now this has been abolished" - With the high food prices, any farmland considered of low conservation value would be better used to feed people, in keeping with Western countries' commitments to Millennium Goals.- In the British case, Britain is a net importer of food, and its consumption of bio-commodities exceeded its sovereign capacity to produce them, even in 2003, according to WWF data. So in these times of food scarcity it has a special responsibility not to be exporting hunger by using land that could be feeding people to feed cars. - Even if we did ever return to much lower food prices (which most analysts doubt), it would be better to use any low conservation value farmland, crop wastes or even remaining crop surpluses for solid biomass to replace coal or make materials. Doing this would save emissions far more cost-effectively than using them for biofuels for transport [1]. - The complete abolition of set-aside land threatens rare wildlife in Europe including the Little Bustard and various reptiles, and is causing dramatic declines in countryside birds according to a recent German report [15]. This conflicts with the EU's goal of halting biodiversity loss by 2010. A new funding provision is needed to address these concerns. - In summary, using land for liquid biofuels rather than food, solid energy crops or conservation is the worst of all worlds. The set-aside scheme did allow the use of land for solid energy crops. 6. "The certification system should forbid biofuels where they either directly or indirectly displace food production or cause ecological destruction... - How will you certify against displacement? The EU's plans for sustainability criteria do not include demanding that the land used was not previously used for food. After all, if you add in demands that it was not converted forest or otherwise high conservation value, this would leave very little land that could produce biofuels. Even then, how could you predict that it would not be used for food at a future date? - Since biofuels already are displacing food production with the recent sharp price rises in grains and oilseeds [7], this means at least all current biofuel from grains and edible oils is diverting food from the food supply and leading to hunger. The heads of the IMF, IFPRI and IRRI have all called for a moratorium on producing biofuel from grains and vegetable oil, so will you support such a moratorium in fulfilment of what you say? And surely it is a no-brainer not to be approving any future targets for increasing production at a time when existing production is mostly resulting in displacement? ...or alternatively we should build in a safety mechanism so that if there is a major rise in food prices, a brake is put on biofuels from foodstuffs" - As they already have been a key factor in a major rise in food prices throwing hundreds of millions into food insecurity, will you call for this safety mechanism to operate NOW, i.e. place a moratorium on biofuels from foodstuffs or other primary crops on existing farmland? - See second answer above. 7. "But we can use degraded or 'marginal' farmland in the global South" - Often these terms are used to refer to pasture land and/or mixed, biodiverse farmsteads, and is being used as a smokescreen for the forcible displacement of long-established communities. See the joint NGOs' briefing "Agrofuels and the Myth of the Marginal Lands" [20]. - African Biodiversity Network told MEPs: "We strongly challenge the myth that there is plenty of free land, going spare, in Africa. Farmers, pastoralists and indigenous peoples use these so-called "marginal" territories" - letter to MEPs concerning proposed 2020 biofuel target, August 2008 [16]. - A large number of civil society organizations in the global South have signed several other joint declarations opposing agrofuel incentives in the North, because Northern interests in sourcing large-scale crops tend to mean human displacement for monocultures, loss of biodiverse lands and watersheds, and human rights abuses, in the South as their legal institutions are typically not as strong as in the North [16]. - How much land is actually suitable for growing biofuels for transport that is not suitable for growing food of any kind nor other crops there is already demand for, so shifting demand for land elsewhere? - The expansion of biofuels has played a large part in the present fertilizer scarcity bottleneck that is hindering food production by local farmers, reportedly in Africa and Pakistan at least [4]. - In the longer term the world faces 'peak phosphorus' (mineral extraction for fertilizers) and the more of this diminishing resource has been used to refertilize lands for biofuels, the less is left to over to sustain food production [4]. - The depletion of ancient groundwater tables e.g. in US Midwest, India is storing up problems for future food production. 8. "Jatropha curcas is indigenous to Africa and many of these countries use it for fuel oil already, and doesn't require water or fertilizer." - It is indigenous only to Central America. Where various communities already use or have used it for fuel oil, this is mostly for small applications e.g. cooking and lighting, typically from hedges of the plant. - D1 Oils, a British company who are prominent advocates, say it does require water and fertilizer to be grown as a crop. - There are many reports of large, biodiverse areas being taken over for jatropha schemes often abusing the rights of communities already farming the lands, e.g. in Tanzania, Ghana, India. - If there really exist opportunities to produce jatropha to the genuine benefit of local people, high oil prices (both vegetable and mineral) will mean there is plenty of incentive to do this without a specific European market, which increases the European ecological footprint. - It is a noted hazard for toxicity to livestock and children, and for invasiveness (India, Australia). 9. "I have seen palm oil produced sustainably in community schemes." - Recent high prices for vegetable oil have exceeded analysts' expectations, with expanding markets for vegetable oil not only for bioenergy but also with diversifiying developing world diets, markets for toiletries etc. So the difficulty lies not in lack of incentives for sustainable palm oil if it exists, but in deterring further wholesale replacement of rainforests with oil palms, destroying prized biodiversity, carbon stores as well as adversely affecting communities and ecosystem services. 10. "Sugar cane ethanol in Brazil give a good energy return and most plantations are a long way from the Amazon." - Sugar cane in Brazil has many mitigating aspects, but also a good many problems, including that historically it has displaced other farming especially soya and cattle ranching into ecologically sensitive areas including the Amazon, Atlantic forest, Cerrado (hilly savannah) and Pantanal (major wetland basin to southwest). - That habitat is valued not merely for biodiversity but also carbon stores - there are major soil carbon stores in the Pantanal and Amazon, the latter also holding at 11 years' worth of CO2 emissions [17]. - The most detailed relevant climate modelling, by Roni Avissar, warns that there is a considerable danger of the Amazon collapsing if it falls below a certain size (acknowledged by the recent review of tipping points by Lenton et al. [17]), and that this in turn would reduce rainfall to the US corn belt. Forests and pasture also moderate local climate better than monocultures. - A published paper by Sawyer (2008) notes: "In addition to the direct and indirect effects of expansion of soya and cane monoculture, extensive cattle-raising is being displaced to frontier areas, where its area is multiplied, generating strong pressures for large-scale deforestation. Ranchers who sell their land to planters of soya or cane can purchase areas 10 times as large on the frontier, owing to the strong differential in land prices. The average price of land in the North region is seven times less than in the South and the differential is increasing, while differentials between southern farmland and uncleared land on the frontier are greater than those between the regional averages." [18] So the sugar cane growers can easily argue that they fulfil the sustainability criteria of biofuel "not grown on former forest land", while displacing cattle farmer into the rainforest, with the same outcome (hat tip: Kenneth Richter). - Sugar cane growing uses considerable fertilizer - since the whole plant is harvested and used for bioenergy - adding to phosphorus scarcity for food production [4]. 11. "But we should not write off biofuels altogether." - An end to biofuel targets (and/or a moratorium on using grains or vegetable oil for biofuels) is not writing off biofuels altogether. 12. "If we don't use biofuels, people will develop "Coal-to-Liquids" and tar sands as petroleum replacements, that are usually more polluting than petroleum." - Most agrofuels (biofuels from planted crops or forestry) also do more to narrow the window of opportunity to avoid dangerous climate change than widen it, as well as currently contribute to hunger, rainforest destruction, human rights abuses, and overall in most cases the costs outweigh the benefits, according to the EU's own Joint Research Centre as well as a Swiss Government study [1,11]. It is the job of governments to ensure that all fuels that have a bigger environmental footprint than petroleum are disincentivised more than petroleum. This means most agrofuels should be disincentivised more than petroleum, not absurdly subsidised as now [3]. 13. "I will follow my party voting line since energy policy is not a matter of conscience. We will support reduced renewable fuelling targets as proposed by the EU Environment Committee" - The EU Environment Committee voted only to reduce the Council of Europe mandatory target for "renewable" vehicle fuelling from 10% by 2020 to 8%, and 4% by 2015, still meaning considerably more biofuels than currently. Although some of the target could be fulfilled by other renewable forms e.g. electric cars, it is generally agreed that most of it will be from biofuels in such a timeframe. (For more details on the committee verdict see [19].) - Is it not a huge matter of conscience that food is being diverted for fuel contributing to increased starvation (contrary to Millennium goals), that hundreds of thousands of biofuel refugees are being created in South America, Asia and Africa, as well as more species threatened with extinction? - Does this mean you consider that, so far, the poor are not yet starving enough, not enough rainforest has been cut down and that arable farmers haven't been made millionnaires enough? Which of the above arguments against the principle of targets do you disagree with? - Who are you representing here? The targets enrich arable farmers but mean less food is being produced than otherwise, particularly in the developing world [4], come at a huge cost to economies as a whole [3], and it is very doubtful that they are helping against climate change [1]. - What are your key specialist areas of interest as a politician? This is not a trick question - biofuel targets are having grave negative effects on our economy [3] as well as the environment, hunger and human development and human rights. 14. "You're cherrypicking. The Royal Society supported continuing with biofuel targets... - Several members of the Royal Society's panel were affiliated to the Porter Alliance for Bioenergy Research that campaigns for grants for biofuels research. - The Royal Society report warned against biofuels being sourced that made a "suboptimal" (sic) contribution to mitigating CO2, yet failed to note that it is dramatically "suboptimal" in most cases for land or biomass resource to be used for biofuels for transport, compared with solid bioenergy used to replace coal or make materials. Instead it tried to deflect from the issue by pointing that certain biofuels for transport achieved a comparable greenhouse gas saving per hectare to biomass if biomass replaces natural gas, using summarised data from the JRC (EU Joint Research Centre). However, the biofuels concerned are very expensive options not widely used at present (according to the JRC sources); and there are ample, much more cost-effective opportunities to use any sustainable biomass source either to replace coal (e.g. via co-firing) or alternatively make materials, as the JRC's latest reports point out [1]. - The report also did not address that biofuel targets increase the UK's already unsustainable ecological footprint. ...as did the UK's independent Gallagher Review" - The Gallagher Review was not independent. It was commissioned by the Government from the Renewable Fuels Agency. Its existence and board appointments are a result of the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation order. 3/5 of its board appointments were made to senior staff in companies with biofuel interests. So they were as unlikely to favour an end to the RTFO as turkeys would be to favour Christmas. - This report fudged the issue of targets, instead lumping together all options of halting or ending targets with ending any support for biofuels, and claiming that: "An EU-wide moratorium is also likely to lead to a further increase in fossil fuel prices (due to the additional demand created from the removal of biofuels) with knock-on impacts for both food prices and the poor." - Are we to believe, then, that subsidising the conversion of food into fuel at the huge costs estimated by the OECD and JRC (see 3. above) is the best way to use that money to ensure that the poor feed themselves? - If biofuels are indeed making fossil fuels cheaper, and if that is the aim, then surely we shouldn't have the RTFO or similar mandates elsewhere, since these force biofuels to be blended into fossil fuels at times when biofuels cost more, then forcing up fuel as well as food prices? - With large arable farmers around the world becoming so wealthy as a result of current food price rises [5], who are the biggest losers, if not the urban poor who spend the greatest proportion of their income on food? If those farmers were merely passing on the cost of oil price rises they would not be becoming so rich, so scarcity has clearly sent food prices much higher than the addition of biofuel to oil can be relieving. "A moratorium on biofuels could also discourage much needed investment in agriculture that is required to address increasing global food demands and to encourage the development of a more productive agricultural system. This could have particular benefits for the poor in the medium and long term." - So, 'let us starve people so as to create more incentive for them to be fed.' - Biofuels are also contributing to more rapid depletion of mineral phosphorus for fertilizers [4], of groundwater reserves in some locations, and also mean more rapid soil erosion in some places, meaning we are storing up an even worse future food shock for humanity. 15. "Are there any biofuels you do support then?" - The re-use of waste vegetable oil is probably good, and potentially biofuel from algae if a commercial system can be devised for this since the potential fuel yields can exceed those of the best existing biomass for stationary applications. - The key issue is: it is not intrinsically wrong to try to grow fuel instead of mining it, the overall costs in most cases are exceeding the benefits. Governments should encourage resources to be used in the most efficient or cost-effective way. In most cases biofuels for transport are a very inefficient way to use land or biomass resources, as well as often being very costly economically as well as for communities and wildlife. So they should not be incentivised by targets, as this pre-empts using these resources in those better ways. (Version 1.2) [1]: Joint Research Centre: Biofuels in the European Context, 3/08, http://tinyurl.com/688cog especially summary on pp 22, 23, and graphics on pp 15,16. (.pdf)[2]: Fight against poverty set back by seven years, says World Bank. The Observer, 13/4/08, http://tinyurl.com/3rfoj8[3]: Biofuel policies in OECD countries costly and ineffective, says report: OECD, 7/08, http://tinyurl.com/69uzhq; free read-only version of report: http://tinyurl.com/3t9wdr (.pdf)[4]: Soaring fertiliser prices threaten world's poorest farmers, The Guardian, 12/8/08, http://tinyurl.com/6g2m88; Scientists warn of lack of vital phosphorus as biofuels raise demand, The Times, 23/6/08, http://tinyurl.com/5wmj7n[5]: Why some British farmers are rolling in it. The Sunday Times, 17/8/08, http://tinyurl.com/6ojraw[6]: ActionAid: Three Nails in the Coffin, 7/08, http://tinyurl.com/65v938[7]: Donald Mitchell, World Bank: A Note on Rising Food Prices, 7/08, http://tinyurl.com/6pomqj (.pdf) especially graphics on p3. [8]: From Global Footprint Network data downloadable from: http://tinyurl.com/5jq9zh, the UK was in ecological deficit by 0.45 global hectares per person in 2003 even excluding all its nonrenewable energy use. For BBC graphical introduction see: http://tinyurl.com/34t9v4[9]: UK a net importer of food: see for example BBC map graphic at: http://tinyurl.com/66msek[10]: For Fargione et al. and Searchinger see http://tinyurl.com/35yqnh. Palm oil on grown on peatland exceeds the emissions of petroleum by 30x according to Carbopeat study, see http://tinyurl.com/26qtzk, or 420 years: from Fargione et al. study.[11]: See graphic of Zah et al. analysis in Scharlemann and Laurance: http://tinyurl.com/5vkkl9[12]: For UK current biofuel make-up see The Guardian, 7/8/08, http://tinyurl.com/5qcgcv[13]: Joint Research Centre, "Biofuels in the European Context" (see [1]), p7; Grist article on Iowa State University study: http://tinyurl.com/6gw2d5 [14]: Renewables A Good Bet, Minus Ethanol -Fund Mgr: http://tinyurl.com/66meoe[15]: German study, http://tinyurl.com/636vtj[16]: For various joint declarations see: http://tinyurl.com/2bn5mn[17]: For Amazon carbon store see: http://tinyurl.com/5ozx5a. For Lenton et al study see: http://tinyurl.com/5ukjvl and http://tinyurl.com/5fceuz. For Amazon relation to US rainfall see http://tinyurl.com/6a6qqn[18]: http://tinyurl.com/56o7d7[19]: Introduction and link at: http://tinyurl.com/5psy4v[20]: Joint report, September 2008. http://tinyurl.com/5anlv7 (.pdf)[21]: Euractiv report, http://tinyurl.com/5h9t32[22]: Early Day Motion 2032, http://tinyurl.com/486xj4. UK Government guidelines: http://tinyurl.com/4yexmw allow any palm oil biodiesel (methyl ester) from Indonesia and Malaysia to be described as emitting 45g CO2-eq/MJ and achieving 48% carbon saving, according to pp 41,44,92; p 91 describes this as in the "worst 'common' practice" case. Where the company has more data on the fuel chain, no emissions for land use change need be counted for oil palms planted before November 2005, which applies to all current palm oil (owing to tree growing lead), even though the portion being grown on drained peatland is steadily discharging 130-180 tonnes of CO2 per hectare per year in land use emissions, around 10 times more than the palm oil saves in biodiesel, with total land-use change emissions for first planting cycle often around 30 times more than the biodiesel savings - see [10] references.[23]: See Biofuelwatch's guide, http://tinyurl.com/3ejsx9

Key materials to present JRC report "Biofuels in the European Context" [1] - 30 pagesOECD report - introductory page/press release [3]Guardian and Times reports on phosphorus [4]ActionAid report - introductory page/press release [6]World Bank report - page 1 with abstract; page 3 with graphics of rising food prices [7] Also good:
Graphic from Zah et al. [11]Agrofuels and the Myth of the Marginal Lands [20] - 8 pages Final thoughts"Biofuels are a scam"; "If there is scientific evidence which supports it [biofuel targets]... I have not seen it" - Distinguished Professor Roland Clift, longest serving member of Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, 2007. "Too frightening to even begin to realize." - 2008 Stockholm Water Prize winner Professor John Anthony Allan on the effects of world biofuel expansion, August 2008.

Subject: RE: Version 1.1: Common defences of biofuel targets (EU and UK) and how to answer themDate: Wed, 17 Sep 2008 10:00:21 +0100From: stephen.wood@foe.co.ukTo: quailrecords@hotmail.com; kenneth.richter@foe.co.uk; katie.higgins@foe.co.uk


Jim

Thanks very much for sending this in – it's a really comprehensive set of arguments and very useful.

Much appreciated, and it was nice to meet you at the recent Local Groups Conference.
Regards, Stephen


From: Jim Roland [mailto:quailrecords@hotmail.com] Sent: 15 September 2008 16:24To: Kenneth Richter; Stephen Wood; Katie HigginsSubject: FW: Version 1.1: Common defences of biofuel targets (EU and UK) and how to answer them

Hi all, This one pulls in up to date references on 'marginal lands' including a new report on this, and a new subsection under 4. on issue of oil security and oil sourcing from dangerous regimes. Rgds JimCommon defences of biofuel targets (EU and UK) and how to answer them "The costs of EU biofuels outweigh the benefits" - EU Joint Research Centre report, 2008 [1] Introductory remarks - for discussion with MEP or MP (i) When collecting signatures for postcards against EU biofuel targets, I have explained how biofuel incentives have meant many more people hungry this year than last, and have also helped accelerate rainforest destruction so accelerating overall climate change. Furthermore, biofuels are an extremely inefficient way to use land to source energy, and with world land resources becoming ever more scarce, in most cases this is not the way to go and that is why we are opposing targets for biofuel use. The vast majority of people signed the card in response. Almost the only people refusing were two involved in biofuel research and one from an agricultural area, who when I put more specific questions to them didn't wish to answer. Who are you representing, and do you feel obliged to represent these minority interest groups against both the majority of voters and their common sense view, and against our commitments to Millennium Goals, that are being set back 7 years by food inflation according to the World Bank [2]? Introductory remarks (ii) Almost the only people benefiting from biofuel targets and the resultant high food prices are arable farmers, being turned millionnaires. Almost everyone and everything else is being seriously harmed as a result. It is costing to our economies, means more hunger, this harms developing economies, many of their rural communities are being displaced, it's accelerating climate change, tropical deforestation, probably animal welfare. [For net cost to our economies see the OECD and JRC reports below [3].] And it is accelerating the depletion of mineral phosphorus (for fertilizers) [4], and groundwater in some countries, meaning an even harder future food shock for humanity. As a politician you would not suddenly give all nurses, teachers or policemen a million- or multi-million pound bonus award, let alone at a such a huge cost to most other human concerns, so why are you making an exception for arable farmers in this way, by continuing to support biofuel targets? It is making arable farmers dramatically richer than under the Common Agricultural Policy [5], at a much bigger cost to society and the world than the CAP - at least the CAP made food cheap for people. Now we are making these farmers rich by ensuring there is not enough food to go round (the combined effect of biofuel incentives and more meat and dairy consumption worldwide). Introductory remarks (iii) There are also a number of parallels to Chairman Mao's Great Leap Forward when millions starved through enforced industrial programmes including set targets for all Chinese rural districts to produce steel so as to add to increase domestic production, which saw villages depleted of pots and pans and local timber for local furnaces. Steel itself is not evil, but the programme was wrong and would not have been made right if they had made iron ore the source of all the local production rather than existing metal artefacts. What was wrong to have steel output driven by top-down quantity targets, and furthermore its output from rural land to be driven by top-down quantity targets. To continue with biofuel targets is not the judgment of Solomon, it would be the judgment of Chairman Mao or Stalin. Calls for a halt to incentives for biofuels from grains and oilseeds in the global North, or their use, or an end to such incentives, have now variously been made by the heads of the IMF, IFPRI and IRRI, economists C. Ford Runge and Jeffrey Sachs, former IPCC head (and Defra advisor) Robert Watson, Friends of the Earth, Oxfam, Cafod, Greenpeace, the RSPB, the Environmental Audit Committee and 31 MPs, the Green Party (England, Wales), the US Republican Party; the New York Times, New Statesman, The Guardian and Christian Science Monitor (editorials). 1. "We need to cut emissions in all areas, and there are few ways of doing so now in the transport sector, compared with other sectors." - Overall it is not clear whether agrofuels are doing more to hinder or help emissions savings, as the EU's scientific Joint Research Centre (JRC) states [1]. - Do we need to starve people now by using foodstuffs? Not only are biofuel incentives a major cause of the current food crisis, but they are the one major lever the developed world has to relieve it. Key recent reports include ActionAid's which found that hundreds of millions have been thrown into food insecurity in addition to the hundreds of millions who already were food insecure [6], and a World Bank report which attributed 75% of recent grain inflation to biofuels [7]. - Each unit of food diverted for biofuel is a unit less to be eaten, and if we create a 5% shortfall in staple foods, the effect is not that all from the richest to the poorest eat 5% less, it's those who can least afford it who are forced most to cut back by price rises. Malnutrition has long-term effects on development and susceptibility to disease, and so biofuel diversion is conflicting in many ways with Millennium Goals. The World Bank reports warns that food price rises are setting back progress against poverty by 7 years [2]. - The UK was a net importer of food anyway [8], and consumes more eco-commodities overall than it has sovereign capacity to produce, according to WWF data 2006 (for 2003) [9].- With the same amount of land or solid biomass you can achieve much greater emissions savings using them to replace coal or to make materials, than for biofuels for transport, more cheaply, according to the EU's scientific Joint Research Centre (JRC) [1]. - Who says you need to make cuts in the transport sector when you can make bigger cuts with the same resources in other ways (see previous answer)? Biofuels can only replace a small fraction of petroleum anyway, and we are only postponing a major revolution to alternatives to the internal combustion engine, such as electric cars, that would achieve much more both for climate change and human health. - Most biofuels do not cut emissions "now" at all. As most recently evaluated by Fargione et al and Searchinger et al [10], agrofuels (liquid biofuels for transport from planted crops or forestry), tend to result in a major discharge of greenhouse gases (CO2, also N2O or nitrous oxide) as additional land is cultivated for the purpose, that negates the biofuel savings for decades or centuries. US corn-ethanol has displaced other food production to South America accelerating deforestation there; diversion of rapeseed oil for bioenergy in Europe has led to increased palm oil imports to make up. - The JRC concluded "the costs of EU biofuels outweigh the benefits" [1]. A major study for the Swiss Government [11] concluded that if all the impacts of agrofuels are considered, most have a worse total impact than petroleum fuels. The threat to orang-utans from oil palm expansion is only one of a huge, ever-multiplying range of impacts across South America, Africa and South Asia on exotic often endangered wildlife, and rural communities. - Since the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation is mostly being fulfilled by biodiesel [11], and the consumption of more vegetable oils as a whole stimulates more palm oil to be grown (vegetable oil prices are interlinked as they are interchangeable for many applications), it may be that the incentivised growing of palm oil alone is doing more to hasten 2°C warming than avoid it. The increasing production of palm oil on peatland causes 30x more CO2 emissions than it saves, or would take over 420 years to recoup the CO2 debt it causes (through oxidation of the drained peat), according to two major recent studies, respectively [10]. 2. "Biofuel targets are needed to encourage the development of second generation biofuels... - Why is it governments' job to ensure second generation biofuels are developed? (taken to mean biofuels produced from tougher biomass like wood, crop stalks and husks, tall grasses) They would use limited resources (land, biomass) and save far fewer emissions than using them to replace coal or to make materials, yet at more expense [1]. So even a target only for second generation biofuels would be wrong and detract from better uses of the same resources. - Second generation ethanol is likely to remain much more expensive than first generation by 2020, according to both the JRC and a recent Iowa State University study [13]. So any target which both first and second generation ethanol can fulfil will simply lead to the building of first generation ethanol plants first, until they fulfil the target. Nobody would invest in second generation plants to compete with them. - The JRC [1] warned that second generation ethanol would cost approximately double first generation (p16), and not have a guaranteed supply - it could require a lot of forestry imports. As for using crop residues, this year adverse weather now means there is now a shortage of hay and straw in the UK - so how can a target make sense when supplies are not guaranteed? ...or third generation biofuels i.e. from algae." - Why does biodiesel from first generation agricultural sources qualify for the targets then? Again, anyone who builds biodiesel plants in the EU in response to these targets will then demand that governments maintain incentives to keep them profitable. Meanwhile there is no strong sign that from more 'advanced' sources of biodiesel will ever become viable, large-scale, to replace current crop feedstocks. E.g. algae have been researched for decades as a fuel source without no proven breakthrough. - If you want to encourage biofuels from algae why not simply offer a fuel duty discount for biofuel from this source? Anyway, if a genuine breakthrough occurred to deliver biofuels from algae at much higher acreage yields than planted crops (which is the attraction of algae), at low cost on a large scale (which is the object of research), then almost everyone would support in principle its production in desert areas. This will be obvious to anyone researching it, or investing in this research. 3. "Pull back on biofuels and the renewables industry would lose confidence" - If there is a pullback on biofuels, everyone will know it is because of concerns over hunger and ecological destruction. The incentives, hurdles and objections for other renewable sources or schemes are different, and aren't going to change. - In the United States renewables are now considered a good investment with the exception of ethanol, where investors are pulling out anyway [14]. - Biofuels have probably been diverting investment from other renewables, not helping them. Their high cost per unit of emissions saved [3] (if there is a true saving at all) means they are detracting economically from investing in emissions savings in other ways, as well as the targets unnecessarily hurting economies/worsening recession. - Biofuels are different from other renewables in the sheer amount of land they require, generally several orders of magnitude more. The technologies that come closest are biomass for solid fuel and hydro dams. At least each hydro dam has to be approved individually. Biofuel mandates export a whole wave of ecological destruction. 4. "It would cause economic disruption to pull back on biofuel targets..." - Biofuel targets come at a net cost to OECD economies, costing a whopping USD 960 - 1700 per tonne of CO2-equivalent emissions abated, according major OECD analyst report ("Biofuel policies in OECD countries costly and ineffective") [3]. That is, if they are helping save emissions at all; the JRC warns they may not be, and conflict with more effective, cheaper ways to do it [1]. So, they are unnecessarily worsening recession. (For comparison, the Environment Agency estimates that Carbon Capture and Storage would cost GBP 17 - 90 per tonne of CO2 abated - see Environmental Audit Committee report on CCS - and most governments are balking at that cost as it is). The OECD report estimates they will cost USD 25 billion a year over US, Canada and EU by 2015. In addition, there are the huge costs in terms of higher food prices in the North, and, in social terms, even greater uncosted effects on hunger, human rights and the environment in the South. Food aid from OECD countries is having to increase dramatically as a result, and that itself is to some extent a tail-chasing exercise, as it is outbidding other poor purchasers for scarce food after the affluent have bought theirs. The JRC noted that the total discounted net cost of biofuel subsidies in Europe from 2007-2020 ranges between Euro 33 - 65 billion with 80% probability [1], even in their best case assumptions. - They are turning arable farmers into millionnaires and also enriching some biofuel industry interests, but impoverish just about everyone else. "...and they help insulate against oil shocks and the need to buy energy from dangerous or repressive regimes" - The JRC have pointed out that strategic oil storage facilities would be a much cheaper way of insuring against oil shocks, and their assessment that "The costs of EU biofuels outweigh the benefits" [1] itself allowed for this benefit, costed as the cost of providing the equivalent oil storage facilities, which governments have not chosen to do. [Addendum: Charles Tannock MEP informs me the EU is now making moves in this direction.] - You are right to be concerned about certain regimes, but good ways to address this and other issues is to promote fuel efficiency in cars (new & existing), battery and trolleybus technology, and alternatives to car travel. With biofuels (apart from using waste cooking oil etc.) you are throwing up more problems than you save, including geo-political, as follows: - The OECD [3] notes that in 2007, biofuels used 8% of world coarse grain production and 9% of world vegetable oil production, yet supplied only 1.8% of world transport fuel energy, or about 1.3% if you exclude Brazilian ethanol from sugarcane! Plus a lot of oil goes into other uses - the JRC notes "EU burns almost as much oil in stationary applications as it does in transport diesel engines" [1, p23]. Plus, biofuel production itself requires substantial oil for tractors and fertilizer, and often consumes additional natural gas [1, p26]. Overall, the above figures suggest that the % saving in world oil production achieved is an order of magnitude less than the corresponding % drain on cereals and veg-oil. So, whilse you might marginally and temporarily dampen the influence of oil producers, this is to a much smaller degree than you are impacting on food prices. Recent food price rises have caused widespread food supply stress and civil unrest for example in Egypt, Pakistan, India and Yemen: how do you cost the new geopolitical dangers these present? - Or we might use second generation biofuels, at approximately double the unit cost of first generation biofuels, as the JRC warned, also with major scarcity of supply issues (see 2. above). - Progressively, if the land needed is made up by clearing more rainforest, this will mean discharging so much carbon as to make it harder to avoid dangerous climate change [10] than with the equivalent petroleum. There are huge geopolitical consequences of dangerous climate change. Loss of Himalayan meltwater to the great rivers of south Asia and south China will seriously diminish the food supply for a huge number of people. In the longer term there will be the climate refugees from rising sea levels; and climate change is progressively exacerbating water scarcity across the Middle East. - A collapse of the Amazon rainforest, which is threatened jointly by climate change and an expansion of South American farming (see 10. on sugar cane and references) will reduce rainfall to the US Midwest breadbasket according to the most respected model [17], as well as accelerating climate change by releasing carbon. This rainfall direction is one of many ecosystem services provided by natural biodiverse forests, grasslands and wetlands. Studies show that, in comparison, monoculture crops tend to lead to more extreme regional climate. 5. "But we can use "set-aside land", now this has been abolished" - With the high food prices, any farmland considered of low conservation value would be better used to feed people, in keeping with Western countries' commitments to Millennium Goals.- In the British case, Britain is a net importer of food, and its consumption of bio-commodities exceeded its sovereign capacity to produce them, even in 2003, according to WWF data. So in these times of food scarcity it has a special responsibility not to be exporting hunger by using land that could be feeding people to feed cars. - Even if we did ever return to much lower food prices (which most analysts doubt), it would be better to use any low conservation value farmland, crop wastes or even remaining crop surpluses for solid biomass to replace coal or make materials. Doing this would save emissions far more cost-effectively than using them for biofuels for transport [1]. - The complete abolition of set-aside land threatens rare wildlife in Europe including the Little Bustard and various reptiles, and is causing dramatic declines in countryside birds according to a recent German report [15]. This conflicts with the EU's goal of halting biodiversity loss by 2010. A new funding provision is needed to address these concerns. - In summary, using land for liquid biofuels rather than food, solid energy crops or conservation is the worst of all worlds. The set-aside scheme did allow the use of land for solid energy crops. 6. "The certification system should forbid biofuels where they either directly or indirectly displace food production or cause ecological destruction... - How will you certify against displacement? The EU's plans for sustainability criteria do not include demanding that the land used was not previously used for food. After all, if you add in demands that it was not converted forest or otherwise high conservation value, this would leave very little land that could produce biofuels. Even then, how could you predict that it would not be used for food at a future date? - Since biofuels already are displacing food production with the recent sharp price rises in grains and oilseeds [7], this means at least all current biofuel from grains and edible oils is diverting food from the food supply and leading to hunger. The heads of the IMF, IFPRI and IRRI have all called for a moratorium on producing biofuel from grains and vegetable oil, so will you support such a moratorium in fulfilment of what you say? And surely it is a no-brainer not to be approving any future targets for increasing production at a time when existing production is mostly resulting in displacement? ...or alternatively we should build in a safety mechanism so that if there is a major rise in food prices, a brake is put on biofuels from foodstuffs" - As they already have been a key factor in a major rise in food prices throwing hundreds of millions into food insecurity, will you call for this safety mechanism to operate NOW, i.e. place a moratorium on biofuels from foodstuffs or other primary crops on existing farmland? - See second answer above. 7. "But we can use degraded or 'marginal' farmland in the global South" - Often these terms are used to refer to pasture land and/or mixed, biodiverse farmsteads, and is being used as a smokescreen for the forcible displacement of long-established communities. See the joint NGOs' briefing "Agrofuels and the Myth of the Marginal Lands" [20]. - African Biodiversity Network told MEPs: "We strongly challenge the myth that there is plenty of free land, going spare, in Africa. Farmers, pastoralists and indigenous peoples use these so-called "marginal" territories" - letter to MEPs concerning proposed 2020 biofuel target, August 2008 [16]. - A large number of civil society organizations in the global South have signed several other joint declarations opposing agrofuel incentives in the North, because Northern interests in sourcing large-scale crops tend to mean human displacement for monocultures, loss of biodiverse lands and watersheds, and human rights abuses, in the South as their legal institutions are typically not as strong as in the North [16]. - How much land is actually suitable for growing biofuels for transport that is not suitable for growing food of any kind nor other crops there is already demand for, so shifting demand for land elsewhere? - The expansion of biofuels has played a large part in the present fertilizer scarcity bottleneck that is hindering food production by local farmers, reportedly in Africa and Pakistan at least [4]. - In the longer term the world faces 'peak phosphorus' (mineral extraction for fertilizers) and the more of this diminishing resource has been used to refertilize lands for biofuels, the less is left to over to sustain food production [4]. - The depletion of ancient groundwater tables e.g. in US Midwest, India is storing up problems for future food production. 8. "Jatropha curcas is indigenous to Africa and many of these countries use it for fuel oil already, and doesn't require water or fertilizer." - It is indigenous only to Central America. Where various communities already use or have used it for fuel oil, this is mostly for small applications e.g. cooking and lighting, typically from hedges of the plant. - D1 Oils, a British company who are prominent advocates, say it does require water and fertilizer to be grown as a crop. - There are many reports of large, biodiverse areas being taken over for jatropha schemes often abusing the rights of communities already farming the lands, e.g. in Tanzania, Ghana, India. - If there really exist opportunities to produce jatropha to the genuine benefit of local people, high oil prices (both vegetable and mineral) will mean there is plenty of incentive to do this without a specific European market, which increases the European ecological footprint. - It is a noted hazard for toxicity to livestock and children, and for invasiveness (India, Australia). 9. "I have seen palm oil produced sustainably in community schemes." - Recent high prices for vegetable oil have exceeded analysts' expectations, with expanding markets for vegetable oil not only for bioenergy but also with diversifiying developing world diets, markets for toiletries etc. So the difficulty lies not in lack of incentives for sustainable palm oil if it exists, but in deterring further wholesale replacement of rainforests with oil palms, destroying prized biodiversity, carbon stores as well as adversely affecting communities and ecosystem services. 10. "Sugar cane ethanol in Brazil give a good energy return and most plantations are a long way from the Amazon." - Sugar cane in Brazil has many mitigating aspects, but also a good many problems, including that historically it has displaced other farming especially soya and cattle ranching into ecologically sensitive areas including the Amazon, Atlantic forest, Cerrado (hilly savannah) and Pantanal (major wetland basin to southwest). - That habitat is valued not merely for biodiversity but also carbon stores - there are major soil carbon stores in the Pantanal and Amazon, the latter also holding at 11 years' worth of CO2 emissions [17]. - The most detailed relevant climate modelling, by Roni Avissar, warns that there is a considerable danger of the Amazon collapsing if it falls below a certain size (acknowledged by the recent review of tipping points by Lenton et al. [17]), and that this in turn would reduce rainfall to the US corn belt. Forests and pasture also moderate local climate better than monocultures. - A published paper by Sawyer (2008) notes: "In addition to the direct and indirect effects of expansion of soya and cane monoculture, extensive cattle-raising is being displaced to frontier areas, where its area is multiplied, generating strong pressures for large-scale deforestation. Ranchers who sell their land to planters of soya or cane can purchase areas 10 times as large on the frontier, owing to the strong differential in land prices. The average price of land in the North region is seven times less than in the South and the differential is increasing, while differentials between southern farmland and uncleared land on the frontier are greater than those between the regional averages." [18] So the sugar cane growers can easily argue that they fulfil the sustainability criteria of biofuel "not grown on former forest land", while displacing cattle farmer into the rainforest, with the same outcome (hat tip: Kenneth Richter). - Sugar cane growing uses considerable fertilizer - since the whole plant is harvested and used for bioenergy - adding to phosphorus scarcity for food production [4]. 11. "But we should not write off biofuels altogether." - An end to biofuel targets (and/or a moratorium on using grains or vegetable oil for biofuels) is not writing off biofuels altogether. 12. "If we don't use biofuels, people will develop "Coal-to-Liquids" and tar sands as petroleum replacements, that are usually more polluting than petroleum." - Most agrofuels (biofuels from planted crops or forestry) also do more to narrow the window of opportunity to avoid dangerous climate change than widen it, as well as currently contribute to hunger, rainforest destruction, human rights abuses, and overall in most cases the costs outweigh the benefits, according to the EU's own Joint Research Centre as well as a Swiss Government study [1,11]. It is the job of governments to ensure that all fuels that have a bigger environmental footprint than petroleum are disincentivised more than petroleum. This means most agrofuels should be disincentivised more than petroleum, not absurdly subsidised as now [3]. 13. "I will follow my party voting line since energy policy is not a matter of conscience. We will support reduced renewable fuelling targets as proposed by the EU Environment Committee" - The EU Environment Committee voted only to reduce the Council of Europe mandatory target for "renewable" vehicle fuelling from 10% by 2020 to 8%, and 4% by 2015, still meaning considerably more biofuels than currently. Although some of the target could be fulfilled by other renewable forms e.g. electric cars, it is generally agreed that most of it will be from biofuels in such a timeframe. (For more details on the committee verdict see [19].) - Is it not a huge matter of conscience that food is being diverted for fuel contributing to increased starvation (contrary to Millennium goals), that hundreds of thousands of biofuel refugees are being created in South America, Asia and Africa, as well as more species threatened with extinction? - Does this mean you consider that, so far, the poor are not yet starving enough, not enough rainforest has been cut down and that arable farmers haven't been made millionnaires enough? Which of the above arguments against the principle of targets do you disagree with? - Who are you representing here? The targets enrich arable farmers but mean less food is being produced than otherwise, particularly in the developing world [4], come at a huge cost to economies as a whole [3], and it is very doubtful that they are helping against climate change [1]. - What are your key specialist areas of interest as a politician? This is not a trick question - biofuel targets are having grave negative effects on our economy [3] as well as the environment, hunger and human development and human rights. 14. "You're cherrypicking. The Royal Society supported continuing with biofuel targets... - Several members of the Royal Society's panel were affiliated to the Porter Alliance for Bioenergy Research that campaigns for grants for biofuels research. - The Royal Society report warned against biofuels being sourced that made a "suboptimal" (sic) contribution to mitigating CO2, yet failed to note that it is dramatically "suboptimal" in most cases for land or biomass resource to be used for biofuels for transport, compared with solid bioenergy used to replace coal or make materials. Instead it tried to deflect from the issue by pointing that certain biofuels for transport achieved a comparable greenhouse gas saving per hectare to biomass if biomass replaces natural gas, using summarised data from the JRC (EU Joint Research Centre). However, the biofuels concerned are very expensive options not widely used at present (according to the JRC sources); and there are ample, much more cost-effective opportunities to use any sustainable biomass source either to replace coal (e.g. via co-firing) or alternatively make materials, as the JRC's latest reports point out [1]. - The report also did not address that biofuel targets increase the UK's already unsustainable ecological footprint. ...as did the UK's independent Gallagher Review" - The Gallagher Review was not independent. It was commissioned by the Government from the Renewable Fuels Agency. Its existence and board appointments are a result of the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation order. 3/5 of its board appointments were made to senior staff in companies with biofuel interests. So they were as unlikely to favour an end to the RTFO as turkeys would be to favour Christmas. - This report fudged the issue of targets, instead lumping together all options of halting or ending targets with ending any support for biofuels, and claiming that: "An EU-wide moratorium is also likely to lead to a further increase in fossil fuel prices (due to the additional demand created from the removal of biofuels) with knock-on impacts for both food prices and the poor." - Are we to believe, then, that subsidising the conversion of food into fuel at the huge costs estimated by the OECD and JRC (see 3. above) is the best way to use that money to ensure that the poor feed themselves? - If biofuels are indeed making fossil fuels cheaper, and if that is the aim, then surely we shouldn't have the RTFO or similar mandates elsewhere, since these force biofuels to be blended into fossil fuels at times when biofuels cost more, then forcing up fuel as well as food prices? - With large arable farmers around the world becoming so wealthy as a result of current food price rises [5], who are the biggest losers, if not the urban poor who spend the greatest proportion of their income on food? If those farmers were merely passing on the cost of oil price rises they would not be becoming so rich, so scarcity has clearly sent food prices much higher than the addition of biofuel to oil can be relieving. "A moratorium on biofuels could also discourage much needed investment in agriculture that is required to address increasing global food demands and to encourage the development of a more productive agricultural system. This could have particular benefits for the poor in the medium and long term." - So, 'let us starve people so as to create more incentive for them to be fed.' - Biofuels are also contributing to more rapid depletion of mineral phosphorus for fertilizers [4], of groundwater reserves in some locations, and also mean more rapid soil erosion in some places, meaning we are storing up an even worse future food shock for humanity. 15. "Are there any biofuels you do support then?" - The re-use of waste vegetable oil is probably good, and potentially biofuel from algae if a commercial system can be devised for this since the potential fuel yields can exceed those of the best existing biomass for stationary applications. - The key issue is: it is not intrinsically wrong to try to grow fuel instead of mining it, the overall costs in most cases are exceeding the benefits. Governments should encourage resources to be used in the most efficient or cost-effective way. In most cases biofuels for transport are a very inefficient way to use land or biomass resources, as well as often being very costly economically as well as for communities and wildlife. So they should not be incentivised by targets, as this pre-empts using these resources in those better ways. (Version 1.1) [1]: Joint Research Centre: Biofuels in the European Context, 3/08, http://tinyurl.com/688cog especially summary on pp 22, 23, and graphics on pp 15,16. (.pdf)[2]: Fight against poverty set back by seven years, says World Bank. The Observer, 13/4/08, http://tinyurl.com/3rfoj8[3]: Biofuel policies in OECD countries costly and ineffective, says report: OECD, 7/08, http://tinyurl.com/69uzhq[4]: Soaring fertiliser prices threaten world's poorest farmers, The Guardian, 12/8/08, http://tinyurl.com/6g2m88; Scientists warn of lack of vital phosphorus as biofuels raise demand, The Times, 23/6/08, http://tinyurl.com/5wmj7n[5]: Why some British farmers are rolling in it. The Sunday Times, 17/8/08, http://tinyurl.com/6ojraw[6]: ActionAid: Three Nails in the Coffin, 7/08, http://tinyurl.com/65v938[7]: Donald Mitchell, World Bank: A Note on Rising Food Prices, 7/08, http://tinyurl.com/6pomqj (.pdf) especially graphics on p3. [8]: From Global Footprint Network data downloadable from: http://tinyurl.com/5jq9zh, the UK was in ecological deficit by 0.45 global hectares per person in 2003 even excluding all its nonrenewable energy use. For BBC graphical introduction see: http://tinyurl.com/34t9v4[9]: UK a net importer of food: see for example BBC map graphic at: http://tinyurl.com/66msek[10]: For Fargione et al. and Searchinger see http://tinyurl.com/35yqnh. Palm oil on grown on peatland exceeds the emissions of petroleum by 30x according to Carbopeat study, see http://tinyurl.com/26qtzk, or 420 years: from Fargione et al. study.[11]: See graphic of Zah et al. analysis in Scharlemann and Laurance: http://tinyurl.com/5vkkl9[12]: For UK current biofuel make-up see The Guardian, 7/8/08, http://tinyurl.com/5qcgcv[13]: Joint Research Centre, "Biofuels in the European Context" (see [1]), p7; Grist article on Iowa State University study: http://tinyurl.com/6gw2d5 [14]: Renewables A Good Bet, Minus Ethanol -Fund Mgr: http://tinyurl.com/66meoe[15]: German study, http://tinyurl.com/636vtj[16]: For various joint declarations see: http://tinyurl.com/2bn5mn[17]: For Amazon carbon store see: http://tinyurl.com/5ozx5a. For Lenton et al study see: http://tinyurl.com/5ukjvl and http://tinyurl.com/5fceuz. For Amazon relation to US rainfall see http://tinyurl.com/6a6qqn[18]: http://tinyurl.com/56o7d7[19]: Introduction and link at: http://tinyurl.com/5psy4v[20]: Joint report, September 2008. http://tinyurl.com/5anlv7 (.pdf)

Key materials to present JRC report "Biofuels in the European Context" [1] - 30 pagesOECD report - introductory page/press release [3]Guardian and Times reports on phosphorus [4]ActionAid report - introductory page/press release [6]World Bank report - page 1 with abstract; page 3 with graphics of rising food prices [7] Also good:
Graphic from Zah et al. [11]Agrofuels and the Myth of the Marginal Lands [20] - 8 pages Final thoughts"Biofuels are a scam"; "If there is scientific evidence which supports it [biofuel targets]... I have not seen it" - Distinguished Professor Roland Clift, longest serving member of Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, 2007. "Too frightening to even begin to realize." - 2008 Stockholm Water Prize winner Professor John Anthony Allan on the effects of world biofuel expansion, August 2008.

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2. WEST PAPUA: Malaysian Investors to Open Oil Palm Plantations in Pap
Posted by: "Richard Samuelson" samoxen@dsl.pipex.com
Date: Thu Sep 25, 2008 7:42 am ((PDT))


WEST PAPUA: Malaysian Investors to Open Oil Palm Plantations in Papua

JAYAPURA, Sept 25 Asia Pulse/Antara - A number of Malaysian firms recently
sent experts to Nabire in the eastern Indonesian province of Papua to study
the potential of the region for development of oil palm plantations, a local
official said.

The chairman of the Nabire district legislative assembly, Daniel Butu,
confirmed here on Wednesday that the investors planned to develop
large-scale plantations.

The experts also came to study the possibility of setting up a factory in
the region to process crude palm oil into finished products.

Butu said the district assembly members welcomed the plan hoping that it
would create employment and opportunities for the people in the region to
improve their welfare.

He said no memorandum of understanding has been signed so far because the
results of the study have yet to be presented to the district head and the
assembly.

"The distric legislative assembly supports any company wishing to develop
the people of Nabire including the Malaysian companies," he said.

According to data, since 1980/1981 PT Perkebunan Nusantara II Tanjung
Morawa, North Sumatra, had developed oil palm plantations in Arso in the
regency of Keerom and in Prafi in the regency of Manokwari in West Papua.

PT Sinar Mas Group meanwhile has since 1994/1995 developed oil palm
plantations in Taja in the Kaureh District and in some areas in the
Unurmguay District in the regency of Jayapura.

PT Korindo Group has also developed oil palm plantations since
1997/1998 in the Asiki District of Merauke Regency.

These companies only set up plants to process crude palm oil and to ship it
to factories in Sulawesi, Java and Sumatra to be further processed into
products like cooking oil and cosmetic materials.

Two Malaysian companies have since January this year developed oil palm
plantations in Bewani, in the East Arso District in the Keeromg regency
bordering with Papua New Guinea while another firm is just begining to
develop an oil palm plantation in the Unurumguay District in the Jayapura
regency.

------------------------------------------


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3. Rebellion in MEPs' environment committee on car emissions
Posted by: "Jim Roland" quailrecords@hotmail.com jimroland99
Date: Thu Sep 25, 2008 3:34 pm ((PDT))


http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/09/blow_to_carmakers.html

Blow to carmakers

Mark Mardell
25 Sep 08, 01:54 PM
What is more important, people's jobs or fighting climate change? Or is there no real conflict?
There's been a surprising defeat for European carmakers and their allies over the new plans to cut back greenhouse gases. A carefully stitched-together deal between the two big groupings of left and right in the European Parliament came apart at the seams, as Socialists worried about their green credentials voted against the party line in the environment committee.
Most expected them to water down the European Commission's proposals for an average emission of 130g of carbon per kilometre driven in four years' time. The manufacturers hoped it would be phased in gradually, giving them 12 years to meet the target. Plans to cut fines for those who break the rules have also been thrown out.
The Liberal Democrats' Chris Davies told me it was "utterly astonishing, the press release I prepared before the meeting has been torn up.
"What has happened is that the German car lobby, which has been exerting enormous pressure on MEPs, has been sent away with its tail between its legs."
Despite the huge pressure being put on them by party leaders and corporate lobbyists doing the rounds MEPs have refused to be bullied.
But the Conservatives are worried. Martin Callanan told me: "almost 200,000 people's jobs in the UK depend on car manufacturing and already we've seen cutbacks in production in August. I know the figures in September are even worse, so it won't be long before we see lay-offs. We have to be very careful. The vote today makes lay-offs, a loss of jobs more likely, there's no question".
Why? I ask him.
"Because manufacturers are making less money from smaller cars, many of them are imported into the EU and of course this is forcing manufacturers to produce smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, but making consumers buy them is the other side of the equation. And of course if people keep their older, more polluting cars on the roads for longer nobody gains, we loose jobs and the environment suffers as well."
Labour MEPs I speak to are in the odd position of voting for the compromise, because they thought it was the easiest way of getting some sort of deal, but are now quite happy to go with the tougher, original package.
What happens now will be interesting, and rather complex. Most committee votes are a result of pre-arranged deals between the political groups and it can be taken for granted when the full parliament votes it will back them. In this case, the German government, and perhaps others with large-scale manufacturing, are not happy.
It will be up to the French presidency, with a reputation for being a bit cavalier with their brief, to work out something acceptable to the MEPs and the national governments. Then - the theory is - party discipline will hold. Chris Davies may want to hang onto his press release, and in the interest of the environment, recycle it in December.

[Ends]
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4. FYI: ..satisfying 30% of gasoline demand easily with biofuels...
Posted by: "Christian Kerschner" christian.kerschner@gmail.com zweisteinsunehelicher
Date: Fri Sep 26, 2008 1:41 am ((PDT))

...will they never learn...

http://www.technologyreview.com/Energy/21423/?nlid=1368

Strategies for the Energy Crisis

BP's chief scientist, Steven Koonin, says cutting greenhouse emissions will
take major changes.
....
The Department of Energy and the Department of Agriculture did a study a
couple of years ago that said that with domestically produced biomass, you
could probably satisfy 30 percent of current gasoline demand without
significant environmental impacts or changes to food.

--
Christian Kerschner
Guest Researcher
University of Groningen (RUG)
Faculty of Economics and Business
Room: WSN 0507
PO Box 800
9700 AV Groningen
The Netherlands
Tel.: (+31) 363 3778

Permanent Affiliation:
Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals (ICTA)
Economía Ecológica Despatx QC 3091 - Escola Tècnica Superior d'Enginyeria
(ETSE)
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB)
08193 Bellaterra (Cerdanyola del Vallès) - Barcelona
Tel. (+34) 93 581 37 60
Fax. (+34) 93 586 8008

--
Christian Kerschner
Guest Researcher
University of Groningen (RUG)
Faculty of Economics and Business
Room: WSN 0507
PO Box 800
9700 AV Groningen
The Netherlands
Tel.: (+31) 363 3778

Permanent Affiliation:
Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals (ICTA)
Economía Ecológica Despatx QC 3091 - Escola Tècnica Superior d'Enginyeria
(ETSE)
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB)
08193 Bellaterra (Cerdanyola del Vallès) - Barcelona
Tel. (+34) 93 581 37 60
Fax. (+34) 93 586 8008

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