Friday, October 31, 2008

[biofuelwatch] SEARICE calls for moratorium on agrofuel development
Published October 28, 2008 11:02 AM
Food for fuel policy may result in deforestation
MANILA, Philippines - Using agrofuel to mitigate effects of climate change may bring about "massive losses of biodiversity, crop conversion, [and] deforestation brought about by industrial monoculture to help in policy formulation," an international group said.
As a result, the Southeast Asia Regional Initiative for Community Empowerment (SEARICE) urges a moratorium to agrofuel development in the light of the food and climate crises.
"Our government recklessly jumped into the global frenzy for agrofuel without clear parameter on its implications to the people's growing demand for food. The government has to stop agrofuel expansion and instead launch intelligent debates about the subject," said Wilhelmina Pelegrina, SEARICE Executive Director.
In a press briefing held in Manila, Camilla Moreno hit the developed countries led by the United States in establishing a global emissions market for agrofuels and promoting global warming mitigation polices and trade in carbon credits based on agrofuel production.
Moreno is a lawyer and post-graduate degree holder in Development, Agriculture and Society from the Rural Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. She is the author of the book "Food and Energy Sovereignty
Now: Brazilian Grassroots Position on Agroenergy" published by the Oakland Institute in February 2008.
"Thousands of hectares of traditional ecosystems, arable lands, and local livelihoods are being irreversibly affected by the expansion of agrofuel crops. Urban industrialized lives and ever-increasing energy demands are buying into the alleged greening of energy sector and paving the way for corporate takeover in natural resources, such as land, water, forests, biodiversity, oil and gas," explained Moreno.
Brazil is the global leader in ethanol exports, providing 70 percent of the world's supply in 2006.
According to Moreno, a drive through Brazil's countryside reveals the expansion of agribusiness, turning millions of hectares of formerly natural ecosystems, including the Cerrado (grasslands) and the Amazon, into one major monoculture.
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[biofuelwatch] 3 deforestation-related articles


Chemical released by trees can help cool planet, scientists find

Scientists discover cloud-thickening chemicals in trees that could offer a new weapon in the fight against global warming

Trees could be more important to the Earth's climate than previously thought, according to a new study that reveals forests help to block out the sun.
Scientists in the UK and Germany have discovered that trees release a chemical that thickens clouds above them, which reflects more sunlight and so cools the Earth. The research suggests that chopping down forests could accelerate global warming more than was thought, and that protecting existing trees could be one of the best ways to tackle the problem.
Dominick Spracklen, of the Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science at Leeds University, said: "We think this could have quite a significant effect. You can think of forests as climate air conditioners."
The scientists looked at chemicals called terpenes that are released from boreal forests across northern regions such as Canada, Scandinavia and Russia. The chemicals give pine forests their distinctive smell, but their function has puzzled experts for years. Some believe the trees release them to communicate, while others say they could offer protection from air pollution.
The team found the terpenes react in the air to form tiny particles called aerosols. The particles help turn water vapour in the atmosphere into clouds.
Spracklen said the team's computer models showed that the pine particles doubled the thickness of clouds some 1,000m above the forests, and would reflect an extra 5% sunlight back into space.
He said: "It might not sound a lot, but that is quite a strong cooling effect. The climate is such a finely balanced system that we think this effect is large enough to reduce temperatures over quite large areas. It gives us another reason to preserve forests."
The research, which will be published in a special edition of the Royal Society journal Philosophical Transactions A, is the first to quantify the cooling effect of the released chemicals. The scientists say the findings "must be included in climate models in order to make realistic predictions".
Because trees release more terpenes in warmer weather, the discovery suggests that forests could act as a negative feedback on climate, to dampen future temperature rise. The team looked at forests of mainly pine and spruce trees, but Spracklen said other trees also produce terpenes so the cooling effect should be found in other regions, including tropical rainforests.

Solution to Indonesia's rapid forest destruction

Greenpeace showcases the solution to Indonesia's rapid forest destruction and rising carbon emissions

Jakarta, Indonesia, 31 October 2008 – Greenpeace this morning launched its Forests for Climate initiative, the pioneering solution to reduce deforestation, tackle climate change, preserve global biodiversity and protect the livelihoods of millions of forest people. Forests for Climate (FFC) is Greenpeace's landmark proposal for an international mechanism to fund sustainable and lasting reductions of emissions from tropical deforestation in participating countries in order to meet commitments for the second phase of the Kyoto Protocol (post 2012).
Taking the first step to match donor countries to real projects in developing forested countries, Greenpeace invited embassies of key donor countries, donor agencies, government officials and governors of several Indonesian provinces, to talk about the FFC initiative and to support a moratorium on any new forest conversion in Indonesia prior to any carbon money flowing. The well-attended launch took place at Tanjung Priok, Jakarta's port area, at an event jointly hosted by Rachmat Witoelar, State Minister of Environment of the Republic of Indonesia.

"Indonesia's rampant deforestation and fast rising greenhouse gas emissions have been driven by the lure of short term profit. Greenpeace's Forests for Climate mechanism is the solution as it places a value on keeping the forests alive", said Arief Wicaksono, Political Advisor, Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

"Indonesia's Government and society have a responsibility to protect its tropical forests, for the sake of the environment, the country's development and to prevent the worsening impacts of climate change. It is time for Indonesia to gain the right to funding from industrialised countries to protect one of the world's lungs," said Rachmat WῩtoelar.

Under the FFC mechanism, industrialised countries that committed to reduce their emissions would fund protection of the world's last remaining tropical forests. Developing countries with tropical forests, like Indonesia, which chose to participate and who committed to protect their forests, would have the opportunity to receive funding for capacity-building efforts and for national level reductions in deforestation emissions. FFC prevents deforestation from shifting from one country to the next and is the only mechanism that involves local and indigenous forest peoples™ representatives to ensure their rights and livelihoods are respected.

Greenpeace is pushing for the FFC mechanism to become part of the second phase of the Kyoto (post-2012) agreement on climate change. If countries commit to FFC, funding from industrialised countries for the protection of tropical forests could become available as soon as 2009.

"Indonesia's remaining forests must be protected to combat climate change, stop biodiversity loss and protect the livelihoods of forest-dependent peoples. First, we need an immediate moratorium on deforestation, followed by international funding through the United Nations to protect forests for their carbon value", concluded Wicakῳono.

Greenpeace embarked on the Indonesian leg of its "Forests for Climate" ship tour in Jayapura on 6 October, to shine the spotlight on the rampant destruction of the Paradise Forests - the last remaining ancient forests of Southeast Asia. The Esperanza will leave Jakarta on Saturday, 1 November, en-route to Riau.

Greenpeace is calling on the Indonesian government to implement an immediate moratorium on all forest conversion, including expansion of oil palm plantations, industrial logging, and other drivers of deforestation

Greenpeace is an independent, global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment, and to promote peace.



FACTBOX - UN Scheme Aims To Use Carbon Credits To Save Forests
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UN: October 30, 2008

The United Nations hopes to include a market-based scheme aimed at using carbon credits to save rainforests as part of a broader pact to fight climate change.

Called REDD, or reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation, the scheme won backing at last year's UN-led climate talks in Bali and trial schemes are now being developed, a number of them in Asia. The idea is to refine the pay-and-preserve scheme for inclusion into the Kyoto Protocol's successor from 2013.


Deforestation contributes about 20 percent of mankind's greenhouse gas emissions, particularly carbon dioxide and methane from clearing and burning forests. Tropical rainforests are crucial water catchments and act as lungs for the planet by soaking up vast amounts of carbon dioxide from the air.

They also contain a rich array of plant and animal species and many indigenous communities depend on them for their livelihoods. Paying to preserve these forests can help brake climate change and maintain the planet's rich biodiversity.


REDD's aim is simple: saving remaining tracts of rainforest by paying national and local governments to keep them standing. The payment, via the sale of carbon credits, would reflect the value of carbon stored in the forests or the lost opportunity costs of cutting down the forest for its timber, for cattle farming, or growing crops, such as palm oil.


Mechanisms are still being worked out. But essentially one idea is to use the sale of fully fungible REDD credits to help developing nations halt logging and in return allow rich nations to meet a portion of their UN emissions reduction goals. Estimates vary but REDD could yield between $10 billion and $30 billion a year in funds for the developing world, with REDD credits fetching $4 to $10 a tonne.


There are many and include:

-- Permanence, or compliance. How to ensure the forest will remain standing for the long-term and that a country has the means to protect that forest from fire or illegal logging.

-- Baseline. Each country will need to set a starting point for REDD to report changes to forest cover over time (increase and decrease). The problem is calculating that baseline.

-- Leakage - How to prevent a halt on logging in one area driving deforestation in another location.

-- Flood of carbon credits. The European Union fears a flood of cheap REDD credits could overwhelm Europe's emissions trading system. But some researchers dispute this, saying a properly regulated market would allow for a gradual increase in REDD credits over time. The United States also needed to commit to modest emissions cuts as a minimum.

-- Benefits for local communities. Central to REDD is ensuring long-term funding to local communities. But some NGOs fear the commoditization of forests could lead to land disputes and loss of livelihoods for locals by corrupt officials.

-- Dodging responsibility. Some NGOs also fear the availability of cheap REDD credits could allow rich nations to avoid real and deep emissions cuts at home.


Governments and the United Nations are studying various payment options and methods of monitoring and verifying REDD projects. Some forest carbon credit options are market-based under the Kyoto Protocol. But a scheme backed by Norway would side-step the carbon market and instead allow rich nations to buy separate Kyoto emissions allowances, with the proceeds going into approved UN funds to reward developing nations' efforts to avoid deforestation.

(Editing by Megan Goldin)



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Thursday, October 30, 2008

[biofuelwatch] Will jatropha invade Mozambique?

Will jatropha invade Mozambique?


October 30, 2008

By John Peck


On Oct. 19th 2008, at the opening ceremony of the Fifth International Via Campesina Conference in Maputo, Mozambique, over 600 representatives from 50+ countries were gathered to hear a welcome address by the President of the Republic of Mozambique, Armando Emilio Guebuza.


While Pres. Guebuza had some encouraging remarks about the future potential of peasant agriculture, his suggestion that jatropha was a solution for Mozambique’s energy crisis was not well received by many in the audience. Jatropha is but one of a whole host of crops (including maize, soya, canola (rapeseed), sugarcane, cassava (manioc), plantain, sunflower, palm, coconut, and castor among others) now being aggressively promoted as feedstock for the global agrofuel industrial complex. Such crops, often genetically engineered, grown in monoculture plantations, and destined for export markets, hardly deserve to be called “biofuels” since they have no life affirming qualities and undermine all the basic principles of food sovereignty.

As the leading umbrella organization for peasant farmers, fishers, foresters, pastoralists, and indigenous peoples in the world, Via Campesina has been a harsh critic of agrofuels since their inception. In its 2008 report titled “Small Scale Sustainable Farmers Are Cooling Down the Earth,” Via Campesina identifies agrofuels as but one of several false solutions to the climate change crisis. To quote the report: “Leaving aside the insanity of producing food to feed cars while so many people are starving, industrial agrofuel production will actually increase global warming instead of reducing it. Agrofuel production will revive colonial plantation systems, bring back slave work and seriously increase the use of agrochemicals, as well as contribute to deforestation and biodiversity destruction.”

Inspired by a similar statement from European counterparts, five U.S. based groups: Rainforest Action Network, Global Justice Ecology Project, Food First, Grassroots International, Family Farm Defenders, and the Student Trade Justice Campaign issued a call in 2007 for an immediate moratorium on further U.S. incentives for agrofuel development. Over 50 groups from around the world signed onto this statement in solidarity, including Mozambique’s own National Farmers’ Union (UNAC), host of the Fifth Via Campesina Conference. Just prior to the Via Campesina conference from Oct. 13th - 14th 2008 in Kulima Mozambique, UNAC along with Justica Ambiental (JA!), African Center for Biosafety (ACB), Trust for Community Outreach and Education (TCOE) and the Center for Food Safety met to reaffirm their opposition to any form of agrofuel development that undermines food production and food sovereignty.

Yet, the forces of corporate globalization have been hard at work and have apparently already reached the ear of Mozambique's president. Chief among these agrofuel peddlers is the Nairobi-based Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), bankrolled by the Rockefeller and Gates Foundations and chaired by former U.N. secretary, Koffi Annan. At the global food crisis conference convened in Rome from June. 5th - 7th. 2008, three major U.N. institutions - the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and the World Food Program (WFP) - all signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Gates and Rockefeller Foundations to advance AGRA's agenda. Over $150 million has already been set aside to push this latest version of the Green Revolution across Africa over the next five years.

While some leaders, such as former U.S. Pres George Bush Sr., have argued that the lifestyle of the north is not negotiable, the current food versus fuel debate dominating media headlines is hard to ignore. According to the FAO, food prices skyrocketed 88% worldwide between March 2007 and March 2008, triggering riots in dozens of countries with some demonstrators even being killed in Cameroon, Senegal, and Mozambique. The crisis has been attributed to a vicious convergence of several factors – runaway speculation in commodity markets, weather related crop failures induced by global warming, and – as even the World Bank had to admit – the boom in agrofuels. The creeping expansion of these green deserts that destroy biodiversity, supplant subsistence production, and siphon off scarce public funds is more a recipe for corporate profit than genuine energy security.

There is a fuel crisis in Africa, yet the continent’s own petroleum producers are not even allowed to meet the needs of their own people when corporations based in the north still control the supply chain and find global markets more lucrative. Many of these same oil giants with a horrific track record of violence and corruption – British Petroleum, Chevron, Total, Royal Dutch Shell - are now primary investors in the agrofuel sector, along with other notorious grain, timber, biotech, and finance corporations: ADM, Cargill, Bunge, Con Agra?, Dreyfus, Du Pont?, Monsanto, Syngenta, Marubenji, Tate & Lyle, Weyerhauser, Tembec, Misui, Mitsubishi, JP Morgan Chase, Societe Generale, and the Carlyle Group, to name but a few. Other agrofuel industry cheerleaders with deep financial pockets and cozy political ties include former Florida governor, Jeb Bush; Brazil’s former minister of agriculture, Roberto Rodrigues; and the current president of the Inter-American Development Bank, Luis Moreno.

Contrary to their greenwashed image, today’s agrofuel industry bears little resemblance to the history behind Rudolf Diesel running his new fangled engine on peanut oil at the 1898 World Exhibition in Paris or the modern image of the do-it-yourself type, pouring recovered restaurant grease into a modified vehicle. Instead, today’s agrofuel industrial complex has been constructed around the same destructive infrastructure and corporate exploitation that dominates other globalized commodities. Today the industry is dominated by ethanol derived from sugar cane and maize, and biodiesel from soy, canola (rapeseed), and palm. Yet, this is just the tip of the agrofuel iceberg. Biotech giants such as Sygenta and Monsanto are gearing up to introduce new GE crops specifically tailored for the agrofuel industry, such as maize with a built-in fermentation enzyme and other crops engineered to have a lower lignin content. Other work is being done on cellulosic ethanol using switchgrass, stover, and fast growing trees as the feedstock, as well biodiesel derived from GE algae.

To illustrate the impact of largescale agrofuel development, one need look no further than the the U.S. It currently takes up to six gallons of water to produce one gallon of corn-based ethanol, with another thirteen gallons of waste water. If plans proceed to build more ethanol plants in the Midwest, the Environmental Defense Fund estimates the endangered Oglalla Aquifer could be drained of an additional 2.6 billion gallons per year simple to irrigate and process these agrofuels. Nearby residents report massive groundwater contamination and airborne pollution from these facilities, including clouds of biotech crop dust that harm workers and other non-target species. Even the distillers waste, a leftover from ethanol production long touted in the U.S. as a feed supplement for livestock in factory farms, is now being found to be unhealthy for animals. Many of the farmers who invested their life savings to pioneer ethanol cooperatives in the U.S. in the early 1990s have since gone bankrupt or been muscled out of the market by agribusiness. There are about 130 ethanol plants operating in the U.S., but whereas in 2003 over half were farmer controlled, today 90% are in corporate hands.

This consolidation of the agrofuel industry has been encouraged by massive taxpayer subsidies. In Canada where legislation recently passed requiring a 5% ethanol content in fuel by 2010, agrofuel boosters now expect to receive $2.2 billion in subsidies. Over ten nations in the European Union also provide various forms of agrofuel incentives and this translated into a whopping 60% of the EU’s entire canola crop going into biodiesel in 2006. The U.S. alone is spending over $7 billion per year to promote agrofuels – a subsidy of $1.38 per gallon for ethanol. During the recent U.S. Farm Bill debate ADM and Cargill threatened to import Brazilian ethanol if the White House did not provide sufficient “incentives” to keep domestic agrofuels globally “competitive.” The upshot was even more taxpayer subsidies for development of cellulosic ethanol and for the use of sugar as another potential agrofuel feedstock – conveniently coinciding with Monsanto’s introduction of GE sugar beet. If the U.S. were to actually meet its proposed renewable energy mandate of 15 billion gallons of ethanol per year, over half of the country’s corn acreage would be devoted to energy rather than food production.

Such unrealistic goals mean massive agrofuel imports from somewhere, and these will also probably be subsidized through the perverse manipulation of carbon credits. Under the Kyoto Protocol, 20% of global energy is to come from renewable sources, including agrofuels, by 2020. But none of the greenhouse gases linked to the production of agrofuels will be included in the transport sector, despite the fact that biodiesel combustion alone generates 50-70% more greenhouse gas emissions than the petroleum it would replace. Instead, agrofuels will be counted as part of the agriculture, industry, and/or energy sectors. This false accounting gets even worse. Under Kyoto, a country in the north which imports agrofuels from the south can use them to offset its own greenhouse gas inventory. The upshot is that wealthy polluters are able to out-source green house gases and claim carbon credits by encouraging corporate investment in monoculture agrofuel plantations half way around the globe.

Where will these agrofuel carbon credits come from? Brazil already has 6 million hectares devoted to agrofuel production and plans to increase its sugarcane acreage five fold to meet expected ethanol export demands. In Dec. 2007 - and without hardly any public comment on an earlier draft - the South African government released its final Biofuels Industrial Strategy with a goal of 2% agrofuel out of total liquid fuel demand - or 400 million liters per year - by 2013. The South African-based Tongaat-Hulett investment group has proposed a $200 million renovation of the Hippo Valley sugarcane plantation and Triangle ethanol plant in the Limpopo Valley once the political crisis in Zimbabwe is resolved. Colombia plans to increase its oil palm from 188,000 ha to over 1 million ha., and communities who stand in the way of these expansion plans have already fallen victim to the deadly impact of death squads. Indonesia intends to establish the largest oil palm plantation in the world – 1.8 million ha in Borneo. Dubbed “deforestation diesel,” this palm oil bonanza has cleared vast tracts of pristine rainforest, jeopardizing biodiversity and indigenous peoples alike. Compared to other agrofuel fuelstocks, though, palm oil is by far the most productive, generating 6000 liters per ha – versus only 446 liters per ha for soya and 172 liters per ha for corn.

And, then there is jatropha. India has already earmarked 14 million ha of “wasteland” for jatropha plantations, while a German consortium is negotiating to purchase 13,000 ha in Ethiopia, including portions of an elephant sanctuary, for the same purpose. As a drought-resistant largely inedible plant that requires little or no inputs, jatropha can be harvested up to three times a year. There are already 200,000 ha of jatropha in Malawi and 15,000 ha in Zambia, most under the control of the UK-based company D1 Oils. Jatropha planting is now underway in four Mozambican provinces: Inhambane, Manica, Zambezia, and Nampula. While Mozambique currently has only one refinery at Busi with a limited production capacity of 10 tons/day, agrofuel boosters point out that since sugarcane processing accounts for just 160 days each year, the rest of the facility’s capacity could be devoted to agrofuel.

The negative consequences of runaway jatropha development in Mozambique will likely be similar to those already experiences elsewhere on the continent. Food sovereignty advocate, Ousmane Samake of COPAGEN in Mali, has already well documented how jatropha plantations encroach on traditional grazing lands, drain groundwater supplies, and exascerbate resource conflicts in that country. Even the FAO's own recent bioenergy report notes, "the growing demand for liquid biofuels, combiend with increased land requirements, could put pressure on so-called 'marginal' lands, which provide key subsistence functions to the rural poor."

The world will not be able to escape the food versus fuel debate as long as governments continue to subsidize agrofuels to the detriment of sustainable agriculture as practiced by millions of peasant farmers. Similarly, the world will not be able to achieve genuine food sovereignty as advocated by Via Campsina without rejecting the agrofuel panacea offered by the likes of the Gates Foundation, AGRA, and their corporate cheerleaders. The government of Mozambique would do well to heed the call for an outright moratorium on agrofuel incentives as endorsed by dozens of grassroots organizations around the world including Mozambique’s own National Farmers’s Union (UNAC).



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[biofuelwatch] Switchgrass for biogas? Vegan biogas?

Hi all!

I am new to this List. My work mainly involves reducing the need/desire
for mobility and energy, which influences my concepts for carfree living
and related efforts, such as a big European-level bicycle + public
transport project (waiting to see if it is funded), and also issues
things like greenwashing and what I will call the "Automobile
Advertising Industrial Complex" (cars and ad firms are each others
biggest clients -- this is one of biggest symbiotic relationships in the
business world.) You can see some examples in my Blog and Flickr pages
which you can find thorough my main website below.

I am from California but have been in the USA for a total of 30 days
since the beginning of 2001.


For now I have two issues:

First, is switchgrass for biogas objectionable, and, if not, when does
it become so? I object completely if any biofuel is used for
inappropriate transport (such as urban, private cars) but how about if
it is used for trains, buses, fed into the gas network or used to
generate electricity? Is it really true that land used for switchgrass
is generally not suitable for growing food? What about the benefits of
growing nothing on this land?

Second, any vegetarians or vegans out there concerned about the
feedstock for biogas reactors? As we all know much of it - depending on
location - is from rendering plants or waste from crops used to feed
animals, so is this good because it makes use of all parts of the animal
(process) or does it reduce costs for farmers of animal products, thus
lowering prices for consumers, inducing them to eat more meat or cheese?

I would love to know what people think.



Todd Edelman
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Home/Office: ++49 030 7554 0001

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[biofuelwatch] 5 billion Jatropha tress ot be planted in Rajastan


The India based Centre for Jatropha Promotion & Biodiesel (CJP) is implementing its ambitious plan for 5,000,000,000 New Biodiesel Tree Plantation (NBTP) to produce 10 million ton biodiesel per annum once the yield starts for building a sustainable biodiesel industry in the state of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.

The India based Centre for Jatropha Promotion & Biodiesel (CJP) is implementing its ambitious plan for 5,000,000,000 New Biodiesel Tree Plantation (NBTP) to produce 10 million ton biodiesel per annum once the yield starts for building a sustainable biodiesel industry in the state of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.

CJP will tie up with local players for setting up about 30 Zonal Bio-business Partners (ZBP) at state level, 210 District Bio-business Partners (DBP) at the district level, 3000 Block Bio-business Partners (BBP). While the Bio-business Partners shall grow and maintain jatropha and other trees collect the seeds and extract the oil, the CJP will provide inputs and have a buy back arrangement for seeds/oil and use the produce locally in the refineries. The NBTP shall create at least 10,000 permanent job and massive employment opportunity for unemployed youths

CJP and its Bio-business partners shall work to make NBTP a sustainable business for the benefit of the rural poor and investors alike. Our unique market position – at the interface of social entrepreneurs, social investors and international development organizations – enables us to successfully promote and implement this project.

Mr. R.R. Sharma, Director(Plantation) said “We are also in talk with our country managers in west African countries and south and central American countries to chalk out the massive NBTP programme there”

CJP is dedicated to the development of oil seed bearing trees [OSBT] - non-food multiple vegetable oil plantation and technologies in order to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, bring greater control and security of fuel supply and reduce dangerous climate changing emissions, including CO2. CJP’s jatropha and other non-food oil crop plantation program aims at promoting development investments in this new source of biofuel. The overall goal of this program is to contribute to the Millennium Development Goals by enhancing ecologically sensitive, pro-poor investments in sustainable non-food biodiesel feedstocks in the developing world. The impact of NBP will create thousands of permanent jobs in the earmarked states enhancing Sustainable Biodiesel Feedstock’s worldwide. He further added.

To be part of the bio-business and further business enquires, kindly contact on +91 9829423333 or mail to jatrophaplan@gmail.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it


Business Development

Centre for Jatropha Promotion & Biodiesel

B-132, SAINIK BASTI, CHURU Rajasthan, INDIA-331001

ELE- (+91) 1562 255575 MOBILE- (+91) 9413343550,

E-mail: jatropha3@hotmail.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it ,



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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

[biofuelwatch] New deal to rescue Borneo orangutans in Malaysia

New deal to rescue Borneo orangutans in Malaysia

Associated Press Writer
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia Conservationists said Tuesday they were planning a big push to protect Borneo's orangutans, pygmy elephants and other endangered wildlife by purchasing land from palm oil producers to create a forest sanctuary.
The deal is meant to help stave off the demise of orangutans, whose numbers have dwindled amid illegal logging and the rapid spread of palm oil plantations in Malaysia and Indonesia, the only two countries where orangutans are found in the wild.
The Malaysian-based LEAP Conservancy group is in talks to buy 222 acres of tropical jungle land in Malaysia's Sabah state on Borneo island from palm oil operators, said Cynthia Ong, LEAP's executive director.
The territory is needed to link two sections of a wildlife reserve that is home to an estimated 600 orangutans, 150 Borneo pygmy elephants and a vast array of other animals including proboscis monkeys, hornbills and river otters.
The funds are being raised through public and private donations, Ong said. The British-based World Land Trust, which is working with LEAP on the initiative, said on its Web site that 343,000 pounds ($533,000) was needed to acquire the land.
This was the first time that nongovernment activists were trying to acquire land in Malaysian Borneo for environmental protection with the help of government officials, Ong said.
It was not immediately clear when the purchase might be finalized, but Ong said the land has not been cleared for plantations so far because of a lack of access roads.
"There is a desperate need for this purchase," Ong told The Associated Press. "We have no other avenue to avoid a potential conflict between humans and wildlife."
Environmental groups estimate the number of orangutans in Malaysia and Indonesia has fallen by half in the past 20 years to less than 60,000, largely due to human encroachment on forests. Researchers say more than 5,000 of the primates have been lost every year since 2004.
Borneo is also home to some 1,000 pygmy elephants, which are genetically distinct from other subspecies of Asian pachyderms because they have babyish faces, large ears and longer tails. They are also more rotund and less aggressive.

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[biofuelwatch] EU biofuel data change angers many; Brazil ethanol slowdown noted

EU Biofuel Data Change Angers Environmentalists
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BELGIUM: October 30, 2008

BRUSSELS - European biofuels could receive a boost from a change in the way the European Union calculates their impact on the environment, a document shows, angering environmentalists who think they do more harm than good.

The European Council document seen by Reuters on Wednesday also annoyed European biodiesel producers who see a bias towards bioethanol. New figures on how biofuels can help cut greenhouse gas emissions in the fight against climate change follow swiftly after the European Parliament proposed clamping down on their use, fearing negative side effects such as deforestation.

The EU's final stance will be decided in negotiations in coming weeks between the European Parliament and member states, who are discussing the new data this week.

"The timing and lack of transparency surrounding these new figures raises serious questions about how the biofuel lobby has been able to influence the debate," said Nusa Urbancic of environment group T&E.

The European Union's executive has proposed that 10 percent of all road transport fuel comes from renewable sources by 2020, as it seeks to heed UN warnings that climate change will bring more extreme weather and rising sea levels.

Much of that 10 percent would come from biofuels, creating a huge potential market that is coveted by exporters such as Brazil, Malaysia and Indonesia, as well as EU farming nations.

But environmentalists charge that biofuels made from grains and oilseeds have pushed up food prices and forced subsistence farmers to expand agricultural land by hacking into rainforests and draining wetlands.


The European Parliament has responded by agreeing to limit fuels from food such as Brazilian sugar to 6 percent of EU fuel.

It has demanded that from the outset biofuels cut greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent compared to petrol and diesel, an increase on the 35 percent saving originally proposed by the European Commission, which would have ruled out some EU biofuels.

Member states are now considering reclassifying European biofuels to give new values for the greenhouse gas savings they can achieve, according to the European Council document.

Among the new figures, sugar beet ethanol is given a new greenhouse gas saving of 52 percent, up from 35 percent in the European Commission's initial calculations, bringing it back into line with parliament's recommendation.

"This has been done without any transparency," said a spokeswoman for European Biodiesel Board. "Maybe this can be used as a starting point, but in no way can this be used in the longer term without more scientific work and input from biofuels producers."

T&E's Urbancic said the figures appeared to ignore the damage biofuels can cause by using vegetable oils that would otherwise have been used in foods -- thereby creating fresh demand that encourages farmers to expand farmland into forests.

"The Commission and Council are still ignoring the absolutely critical issue of indirect land use change," she said. "They are being selective about the science they take on board."

(Reporting by Pete Harrison, Editing by Peter Blackburn)

Story by Pete Harrison



European biofuels win last-minute reprieve


29.10.2008 @ 09:28 CET

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The European Commission has amended its values for the amount of greenhouse gas emissions biofuels release so that certain fuels produced in Europe that previously would not have met new "green" thresholds approved by MEPs now meet them.
The change, based on new data from the commission's researchers, car manufacturers and oil companies, is a convenient move for the European biofuels industry. Diplomats from EU member states are meeting today (29 October) to decide on a working document - seen by EUobserver - on the renewable energy directive that features the new figures and that the EU presidency will use as the basis for compromise negotiations on the legislation with the European Parliament.

Sugar cane good; sugar beet also now good (Photo: Wikipedia)

When proposing the bill, the commission had initially suggested that in order to be included as part of a target that 10 percent of road fuels come from renewable sources, biofuels had to achieve a 35 percent savings in greenhouse gas emissions on what traditional fossil fuels would have emitted.
This standard was low enough that a range of biofuels produced in Europe could meet it. However, the industry committee of the parliament in September more strictly demanded that biofuels achieve a 45 percent savings on fossil fuels immediately, and a 60 percent savings by 2015.
At 45 percent, while fuels such as ethanol from Brazilian sugar cane would easily meet such sustainability critieria, a number of European biofuels, such as sugar beet ethanol, would not have met the cut-off.
But in the new document, the commission has adjusted its original rules for calculating what exactly is the greenhouse gas impact of different biofuels, and sugar beet ethanol is in the clear once again.
The commission has now submitted to diplomats updated figures from the Joint Research Centre, the automotive manufacturers' association for research and development in Europe (EUCAR) and the oil companies' European association of environment, health and safety in refining (CONCAWE).
Sugar beet ethanol, which under the commission's previous assessment using data also from these sources was found to have a greenhouse gas saving of 35 percent, is now found to have a savings of 52 percent.
Some biofuels, such as ethanol produced from sugar cane and biogas from municipal organic waste, according to the new data have seen small reductions in their assumed greenhouse gas savings, but they already easily meet both the 45 and 60 percent targets.
All other biofuels have seen increases in what the commission assumes are their greenhouse gas savings, or have remained the same.
Environmentalists say that the figures may well be correct, as the industry may indeed have been able to squeeze out more efficiencies in their production methods, but they have no way of assessing the data, because the report from the JRC that compiles them is not open to scrutiny as it has not yet been published.
This is unfair to the parliament, they say, because while MEPs cannot check the figures, they are already forming the basis of a presidency compromise.
Additionally, argues Nusa Urbancic, of Transport and Environment - a Brussels-based NGO - it is unfair that the commission include fresh, unpublished data that favours the European biofuels industry "at the drop of a hat while they continue to refuse to incorporate scientific paper after scientific paper on the far more profound impact of indirect land-use change."
Research, including the UK government's review of biofuels policies, increasingly shows that when land that would have been used to grow food or animal feed is now used to produce fuel, the additional emissions - a process known as "indirect land-use change" - far outweigh any greenhouse gas savings.
"It is right that the EU takes on board the latest science regarding greenhouse gas emissions from biofuel production," she added, "but the fact that the commission and council are still ignoring the absolutely critical issue of indirect land-use change shows that they are being selective about the science they take on board.
"The timing and lack of transparency surrounding these new figures raises serious questions about how the biofuel lobby has been able to influence the debate."
Brazil Ethanol, Sugar Sector Sees Hard Times Ahead
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BRAZIL: October 29, 2008

SAO PAULO - The global credit crunch delivered the latest punch to the gut of Brazil's ethanol and sugar industry, which has been struggling with low margins over the past couple of years.

The bright prospects of some years ago seem to have folded according to producers and analysts participating in the annual Datagro Sugar and Ethanol Conference in Sao Paulo this week. They still believe in the sector's potential in the long term but also expect pain to deepen in the short term.

"The sector was already in its own crisis before the credit turmoil, due to oversupply (of sugar), falling prices and rising input costs," said Jose Pessoa de Queiroz Bisneto, president of the family-origin Pessoa group of mills.

His group was in talks to sell its 50-percent share in a mill in Penapolis, in Sao Paulo state, but sees the deal as unlikely for a while due to the financial turmoil.

"Now, there are more people who want to sell (companies), and less people who want to buy," he said, adding that the arrival of large groups in the sector has driven up equipment, land and input prices, consuming the group's margins.

Cosan, one of Brazil's largest sugar and ethanol companies, could be one of the groups interested in takeover opportunities during the crisis, said chief operating officer, Pedro Mizutani.

"Cosan always grew in crisis," he said adding that investment plans for 2009 will be kept unchanged.

But Cosan is also facing a hard time financing trade. And investment plans for 2010, including the start-up of two new mills in Goias state, could be delayed or even canceled depending on market conditions.

"The whole sector has to rethink investments," Mizutani said.

Mizutani said Cosan has easier access to credit than most of its rivals but this does not mean that the financial turmoil does not affect the group that saw its shares go down sharply in recent months as investors opted for safer investments.

"If you take Cosan's current share price, they do not reach one quarter of our assets," he said. Investors are confused about companies' prices.


Brazil's sugar and ethanol industry has been in rapid expansion over the last few years, and companies have been leveraging strongly to invest in future capacity.

Many also face losses from the depreciation of the real to the dollar, as much of their debts were dollar-denominated.

"It's a complicated moment," said analyst Datagro's president, Plinio Nastari. "They leveraged to invest. Investments were greater than their cash flow."

Now, with the credit constraints, producers who are weaker financially could be forced to sell their product at any price to make money, causing price volatility to grow, he said.

This has already happened on the local ethanol market, where prices have fallen recently despite the prospect of low supplies in the interharvest period - January to March 2009.

The head of the Sugar Cane Industry Association (Unica), Marcos Jank, said that the credit crisis has also strongly reduced the capacity of Brazil's cane sector to get trade financing as well as blocked investment credit.

"We need money to finance ethanol stocks during the interharvest period and to satisfy the world sugar demand," Jank said.

Analysts and producers say the sector will see a strong rise in mergers and acquisitions, as weaker companies become takeover targets and expansion will come at a slower pace.

"The biggest consequence from the financial crisis is consolidation replacing expansion," said the head of the International Sugar Organization (ISO), Peter Baron, adding that this may not be unhealthy.

Investment in new mills in Brazil was expected to reach $33 billion through 2012, Unica said.

"Money is difficult to get, everything will be a bit slower. Some projects may not materialize at all," Baron said.

"I think what is happening now is a lot of panic reaction, it doesn't have anything to do with the real situation. Fundamentals of the market are quite OK," he said.

After some years being a net exporter of sugar, India is expected to import 1 million tonnes of sugar in 2008/09 and 4 to 4.5 million tonnes in the following season, Nastari said.

Even if the credit crunch hits car sales in Brazil, demand for ethanol is expected to remain strong.

(Editing by Reese Ewing and Marguerita Choy)

Story by Inae Riveras



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[biofuelwatch] KENYA: Biofuels Boom and Bust

By John David Bwakali

Credit: John David Bwakali/IPS

NAIROBI, Oct 24 (IPS) - The Kenyan government has hailed bio-diesel
as an innovation that combines green politics with poverty reduction.
But recent drops in biofuel prices have caused concern about the
sustainability of alternative fuel production.

Rural farmers who have invested all their savings into growing oil
seeds now fear they have opted for the wrong venture.

Over the last few years, the Kenyan government, NGOs and industry
have pushed the production of bio-diesel -- which is environmentally
sustainable because it emits fewer toxic air pollutants and
greenhouse gasses than petroleum-based fuels -- and many small-scale
farmers have placed their hopes into oil seeds as a new avenue to
earn money. Initially, biofuel projects seemed to be a success, with
farmers more than doubling their usual income.

In Ngurumani, a small town in Kenya's Rift Valley, for example,
farmers started to sell the seeds of the jatropha tree for bio-diesel
production, which had an immediate, positive impact on reducing
poverty and hunger in the region. Farmers who previously used to
plant food crops for household consumption only, started selling
seeds for as much as $10 per kilo.

Esther Siteyia, a 28-year-old Maasai from Ngurumani, told IPS she
bought and sold over five tonnes of the seeds during the last twelve
months. "For the first ten months that I sold Jatropha seeds, my
income tripled. I would buy seeds from farmers and sell them to the
highest bidder at a handsome profit," she says. Small-scale farmers
who sold the seeds to her also made good profits, increasing their
income to more than $1 a day.

Originally from Central America, the drought-resistant jatropha tree
has been growing in Ngurumani for decades. Yet, until recently, the
Maasai, who traditionally use jatropha trees for fencing of
homesteads, marking graves or treating cuts, were unaware that the
black seeds of the trees were in fact valuable sources of biofuel.

In another town in Central Kenya, Naromoru, a collaboration between
NGO Help Self Help, the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and
Technology in Nairobi and Dutch bio-diesel manufacturer Solarix
launched Kenya Eco-Energy, a project that encourages rural farmers to
use two other types of seeds, castor and croton, for environmentally
friendly bio-diesel production.

Small-scale farmers earned $0.15 per kilogramme of castor or croton
seeds. "Every day, I now make about 200 shillings ($2.5) from the
seeds,' says Ann Njeri, a housewife and mother of three who lives on
a small farm outside Naromoru.

Prices dropped

However, the farmers' luck ran out in April when biofuel prices
suddenly plummeted from an average of $10 per kilo to less than $0.5
per kilo. Biofuel research companies, producers and NGOs supporting
the production of environmentally friendly diesel had created an
artificially high demand for the seeds, which resulted a high pricing
structure that could not be maintained in an open market in the long-

In addition, the development of regulatory policy frameworks and
local infrastructure needed to manufacture bio-diesel took longer
than expected. As a result, Kenya has only few biofuel processing
plants that struggle to keep up production with seed supply, and many
rural farmers cannot afford the costs of transporting their seeds to
the nearest factory.

Siteyia's storeroom in Ngurumani, for example, is now filled to the
brim with Jatropha, but she has no buyers for her seeds. The Kenya
Eco-Energy project, to which she initially sold the seeds, has run
out of capacity, and the nearest oil seed processing plant in Central
Kenya is more than 200 kilometres from her village, too far for her
to transport the seeds herself.

Although the production of biofuels creates environmental
sustainability, farmers will not be able to continue investing in
them if they don't have a market to sell their produce. Numerous
Kenyan farmers who have put their little savings into the planting of
oil seed producing trees have now lost their initial investments.

Linet Kanini, a small-scale farmer from Tala in eastern Kenya, has
found herself to be financially worse off now than before investing
into oil seeds. More than a year after planting Jatropha on her five-
acre farm, she harvested a few kilos of seeds -- far less than she
expected -- and has no customers. She says she regrets deciding to
plant the oil crop: "Although I have harvested a few kilos, I have
nowhere to sell them." Lack of infrastructure

Yet, energy experts remain optimistic, predicting the demand for
biofuels to increase in the near future. According to the
International Energy Outlook of 2007, global oil consumption is
projected to increase by about 36 percent by 2030. In Africa, oil
consumption is projected to double in that time.

Already, global bio-diesel production is on the increase, growing
from one billion litres in 2000 to six billion litres in 2006. If
this trend continues, oil seed farmers may reap substantial profits
within the next few years.

Farmers now set their hopes on the Kenyan energy ministry that
promised to support bio-diesel production as a poverty reduction
strategy. It recently passed policies to encourage the building of
bio-diesel refineries in rural areas and said it expects the
country's bio-diesel industry to increase household income levels by
30 percent by 2012.

John Kioli, director of Nairobi-based NGO Green Africa Foundation,
agrees that more money needs to be invested into small-scale biofuel
production to turn around the downward trend in pricing. "For
profitable and sustainable markets to be realised, local communities
need their own processing plants that absorb locally available seeds.
The guiding principle should be to use local raw material for local
production and for local consumption," he explained.

Biodiesel is not only supported by governments for poverty
alleviation and environmental reasons, it is also cheaper than
regular diesel.

At a filling station in Naromoru, a long line of motorists cue to
fill their vehicles with bio-diesel. At $1.1 per litre, bio-diesel is
ten cents cheaper than ordinary petrol, a price difference that
accumulates to substantial savings for drivers.

"Every day, I cover 300 kilometres with my public minibus. I am now
saving about $90 every month because of using bio-diesel," minibus
driver Maina Kamau told IPS.



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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

[biofuelwatch] Malaysia: Children and migrant workers enslaved in oil palm plantations (Bulletin October 2008)

Malaysia: Indonesian children and migrant workers enslaved in oil
palm plantations

Oil palm firms are making a fortune in Malaysia particularly with the
current agrofuel rush. But none of it goes to those who put their
blood and flesh to make the money come out from oil palm plantations
(see WRM Bulletin Nº 134). Migrant workers from Indonesia appear to
be among those who get the worst deal.

At least 103 oil palm plantations in Sabah employ about 200,000 legal
migrants as well as 134,000 considered illegal workers from
Indonesia. An article from Erwilda Maulia, published in The Jakarta
Post on September 17, 2008, reports "slavery practices" at oil palm
plantations in Sabah, Malaysia. The National Commission for Child
Protection revealed that thousands of Indonesian migrant workers and
their children have been "systematically enslaved".

Denunciation came from a group of local Indonesian teachers who
reported "an alleged case of child exploitation as well as several
cases of physical and sexual harassment of children of Indonesian
migrant employees". They also said that "children between the ages of
six and 18 had to work for hours collecting sacks of oil palm seeds
scattered on the ground, in return for a minimal amount of pay. The
children were often forced to work by their own parents or by
plantation managers", he added.

Arist Merdeka Sirait, a member of a fact-finding team sent to
plantations in Sabah said: "They are placed in isolated barracks with
no access to transportation, making it impossible for them to leave
the plantations. Nor do they have access to clean water, lighting and
other facilities."

The article reported him as saying that about 72,000 children of
Indonesian migrant workers at the Sabah plantations were forced to
work without regulated employment hours, meaning they were made to
work all day long. The children were not provided with birth
certificates or any other type of identity documents, effectively
denying their right to formal education, among other rights.

"We call this 'bonded labor' (a means of paying off debt by direct
labour rather than by currency or goods), and it is a modern kind of
slavery," Arist added. According to him, "Bonded labor" was common at
all the plantations, and Malaysian authorities deliberately allow
such conditions to persist.

It is very convenient for the ambitious corporations to have a way of
maintaining "illegal" workers and by enslaving children of migrant
workers they secure a future low-paid labour force, just like their
parents. To make matters worse, "illegal" workers are often extorted
by Malaysian security officers who check their documents, Arist

The bitter fruit of oil palm plantations seems to become even more
sour for the workers.

Article based on information from: "RI workers, children 'enslaved'
in Malaysia, commission says", Erwida Maulia , The Jakarta Post ,


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[biofuelwatch] Why FSC should not certify plantations - Open Letter (The letter can be signed via that website)

Open Letter to the FSC members

The undersigned wish to urge members of the Forest Stewardship
Council (FSC) to urgently resolve the serious problem of FSC
certification of monoculture tree plantations, at the FSC general
assembly to be held in Cape Town, South Africa.

One of the topics for discussion at the general assembly is a Review
of FSC Principles and Criteria, and there is therefore an opportunity
for changing those principles in such a way as to exclude the
certification of monoculture tree plantations by FSC.

FSC members –particularly from the environmental and social chambers-
must be made aware that certification of that type of plantation is
not only eroding the FSC's credibility but –more importantly- that it
is undermining local people's struggles against plantations.

Those peoples are struggling to protect the same things that FSC
members from environmental and social organizations agreed needed to
be protected when they joined the FSC: indigenous, traditional and
peasant communities' rights and livelihoods; forests, grasslands and
wetlands; water, soils and biodiversity.

All large scale tree plantations impact heavily on most –and usually
all- of the above. There is now more than sufficient documented
evidence of those impacts in a large number of countries, ranging
from South Africa and Swaziland to Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador,
Uruguay, Spain, Ireland and others.

The obvious conclusion must be that large scale tree monocultures are

In spite of that, time and time again FSC-accredited certifiers have
awarded the FSC seal to them. Little has mattered that those
plantations were being opposed by local communities and that the FSC
label would result in further strengthening already very powerful
companies whose activities are destroying Nature and peoples'

Four years after having launched the FSC Plantations Review, nothing
has changed. In spite of abundant documentation demonstrating the
negative social and environmental impacts of plantations, there are
currently at least 8.5 million hectares of plantations already
certified, as well as an unknown area within the 37.7 million
hectares grouped under the category "semi-natural & mixed plantation
and natural forest", which hides a large number of plantations.

The time has now arrived for FSC members –particularly from the
social and environmental chambers- to take sides: to continue to
allow business as usual, or to fight for change; to protect the
interests of large pulp and timber corporations or the rights of
local peoples and Nature; to carry on accepting that plantations are
a "type of forest" or to agree that they have nothing in common with
them; to greenwash a most harmful land-use, or to oppose social and
environmental destruction.

We therefore call on those FSC members who share with us the desire
to protect local peoples and Nature from the damage caused by the
expansion of tree plantations to raise their voices at the upcoming
general assembly and to help bring about the change that is needed.


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[biofuelwatch] Biofuel flying will take off in three years, says Boeing

Biofuel flying will take off in three years, says Boeing

Monday October 27 2008

Biofuel-powered aircraft could be carrying millions of passengers around the world within three years, according to Boeing.

Darrin Morgan, an environmental expert at the US jet manufacturer, said the group was expecting official approval of biofuel use in the near future.

"The certification will happen much sooner than anybody thought," he said. "We are thinking that within three to five years we are going to see approval for commercial use of biofuels - and possibly sooner."

Morgan added that aircraft will not require modification to operate on a blend of biofuel and kerosene. However, harvesting enough plant material to meet the industry's needs is the biggest barrier to mass use of biofuels, according to Boeing. Fuelling the world's 13,000 commercial planes with soya bean-based fuel, for example, would require setting aside the equivalent of the entire land mass of Europe for soya bean production.

"No technology change is needed from an engine or airframe point of view," Morgan said. "It's about availability of the biomass."

Boeing expects planes to operate on a 30% blend of biofuel. It also believes they could operate on a 100% blend, but says there would not be enough biofuel to supply an industry that consumes 85bn gallons of kerosene a year.

Airlines are staging biofuel trials, as well as Boeing and its close rival Airbus, with the support of engine manufacturers including Rolls-Royce.

A recent trial by Virgin Atlantic and Boeing was dismissed as a "PR stunt" by Willie Walsh, the British Airways chief executive. That drew a sharp response from Virgin Atlantic founder Sir Richard Branson, who warned that the airline industry would go "backwards" if Walsh's attitude prevailed. BA has subsequently teamed up with Rolls-Royce to conduct an in-depth study of alternative fuels. Air France-KLM, the world's largest airline by revenue, has also given its backing to biofuels.

Friends of the Earth said the aviation industry should limit flights first before turning to biofuels and warned that doubts over the ecological benefits of alternative fuels had not been answered.

"There are real doubts over whether biofuels are sustainable and make a real contribution to cutting climate-change emissions," said Tony Bosworth, a transport campaigner at FoE. "Second-generation biofuels are also, as yet, unproven."

According to their backers, biofuels are good for the environment because their ingredients absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while they are grown, which balances out the carbon dioxide that is released when the fuel is burned.

Detractors argue that mass production of biofuel pushes up food prices by using land that would otherwise be dedicated to producing food crops and also causes increased deforestation.


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