Sunday, November 30, 2008

[biofuelwatch] Fw: BFW Report on biochar



Repeat sending with corrected address.
 
Ron
 
----- Original Message -----
From: Ron Larson
Sent: Sunday, November 30, 2008 2:36 PM
Subject: BFW Report on biochar

To: Biofuelswatch blog

    The recent "Biochar" report, announced by Almuth two days ago on this list, is the only negative biochar report with extensive biochar references I have yet seen. I've been studying this for a week, other biochar references for at least five years. Because I feel the world must seriously consider every possible technology that can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, I below provide beginning rebuttal comments on this report. On the positive side, I can appreciate and applaud the BFW strong emphasis on preserving forests and biodiversity. However, after a pretty careful search, I found nothing to substantiate your dismissing biochar – nothing except that you believe biochar is a "biofuel". I disagree with this classification. No other biomass-related approach is capable of either (much less both) reducing atmospheric CO2 economically or improving soil productivity. Fortunately biochar also has a carbon-neutral energy aspect – but that is not enough to lump it with all other biofuel approaches.

    Your strong belief that biochar is going to be harmful to the environment would have been bolstered by at least one or two citations to other technical negative literature. Your fifty-some references to frog, toads and amphibeans is not germane  – these unfortunate reptiles have zero connection to biochar. If there were some connection, I expect the connection to be positive – not negative. If there were such a negative, one of the most well-known biologists (20 books, 130 articles), Prof. Tim Flannery would not have strongly endorsed biochar (see http://www.biochar-international.org/timflannery.html). Prof. Flannery was at the second IBI conference – only hours away from London - a few months ago.

    It is unfortunate that you chose to not attend this conference, nor cite any of the 70 plus posters - a majority of which are also available at the IBI site, along with many others from the 2007 IBI Conference. Similarly, it is unfortunate you did not apparently read either of the two large volumes covering the highly positive Amazonian history (both entitled "Amazonian Dark Earth"). Of course you can't read everything, but your list of biochar citations is amazingly short. Even then, you quote from authors who are almost uniformly positive about biochar. If you were not inserting your own negative views, almost everything you quote would prove biochar has a very bright future.  In your reference 58, you have cited one paper as being deficient in details, but you have failed to note that there were about 30 such biochar papers this year at this major soils conference - that the year before had none. I guess it all depends on whether you view the glass as half full or half empty. Biochar is a very new field with close to zero public consciousness – and the fantastic excitement about biochar of both climate and soils scientists does not come through in your review.

    The roughly 25% of your report devoted to biochar in Section 4 is an inappropriately small proportion, especially when you make serious negative allegations. As near as I can tell, none (repeat – none) of the even smaller percentage of references in Section 4 (28 out of a report total of 189) support any of your concerns. The most authoritative negative article you have cited was by Dr. Wardle (your reference # 60). But Dr. Wardle was only urging caution – and furthermore you only provided half the story. The other half (a response by Prof. Lehmann and a rejoinder by Dr. Wardle should/could have been provided (all three are at: http://www.biochar-international.org/aboutbiochar/articlesonchar.html. ).

    Assuming that the authors (Almuth and Deepak) will disagree with my analysis of this report, I ask that they list the top few references that have led to, or support, this so-negative opinion on biochar. I especially ask that they exclude references that are only critical of biofuels. I grant that the biofuels topic deserves criticism – but the traditional biofuels areas have neither of the climate and soils improvement attributes of biochar which prompt this note to this blog

    To those who have not yet read this report, I especially ask that you look carefully at how this BFW report dismisses Dr. Jim Hansen's recent endorsement of biochar. To me, the authors dismiss Hansen's endorsement solely because he can (reluctantly) live with biochar from plantation forestry. If BFW has a different reason for dismissing Hansen's views on biochar, they have not made it clear.  Similarly, BFW is simply wrong about not being able to achieve Hansen's (and IBI's) goals for atmospheric carbon reduction.  Those goals are large - but realistic and a small portion of annual biomass production.

    Finally, here are three examples of improper analysis that I hope the authors will also address in a rebuttal:

a. From p 9: "This, of course does not mean that the same proposals are not also promoted by those who see them as an alternative to reducing fossil fuel burning." (underlining of four negatives added for emphasis)

    It took me some time to figure out what this quadruple-negative sentence was intended to convey. I think they meant this (all-positive) statement: "These same proposals are promoted by those wanting to retain fossil fuel burning." While undoubtedly true about a few future biochar proposals (however, I have met no biochar proponent ever saying this), carbon credits can transfer considerable dollars from the fossil to biochar (necessarily forest-preserving and fossil-fuel reducing).  I know of no better way to wean ourselves from fossil fuels. This whole topic of carbon credits for biochar was mentioned only once (negatively) by BFW, so a plus for biochar is turned into a negative with this double-double-negative sentence.

    b. From p 51: "Currently, the terrestrial biosphere absorbs a net 300 million to 1.5 billion tonnes of carbon per year.117 ……. even taking account of losses due to deforestation and fires etc."   

    The authors have misread Reference 117 (An IPCC technical document – which I found at http://ipcc-wg1.ucar.edu/wg1/Report/AR4WG1_Print_Ch07.pdf). In the right-most column of Table 7.1 their "net 300 million to 1.5 billion tonnes" is shown as 0.9 +/- 0.6. This poorly defined number is itself the subtraction of two equally poorly known even-larger numbers (for deforestation and CO2-augmented growth). Thus Almuth and Deepak have "thrown the baby out with the bath water". That is, land use changes have been relegated to the unimportant - as they now have thrown away the annual deforestation loss - that they so (correctly) abhor. In other parts of this IPCC chapter (for instance Figure 7.3) , it is clear that the IPCC thinks the average annual increase in atmospheric carbon content due to land use changes is about 1.6 Gt C/yr. And it is here that biochar can have just as large a positive impact – a correlation BFW disputes. (This Table shows "n.a" for the most current period, whereas the changes MUST be much like the prior 5-year period also showing the 1.6 Gt C/yr mean value of Figure 7.3.)

    c. Lastly, also from the report's p 51, two paragraphs later: "Additionally, even if it was possible to speed up the terrestrial carbon cycle, in the first couple of decades the emissions from biomass loss would far outweigh the gains from new biomass."

    Biochar makes the most sense when working with residues – mostly agricultural. The authors insist on equating biochar only with energy plantations newly planted following the deforestation of old-growth natural forests. Nothing could be further from the truth. With a little boost from the UN, and a modest amount of training, the biochar march could begin in 2009. Already, we hear of new biochar projects every month – soon likely to be every week.

    In sum, my perception is that the authors are so adamantly opposed to biofuels that they have not been sufficiently diligent in analyzing biochar. Biochar is a vastly different technology – one that they, joining every other analyst I have seen/read, should be wholeheartedly endorsing.  

Ron Larson, Golden, Colorado, USA; 30 Nov. 2008

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[biofuelwatch] INTERVIEW - EU Near Green Energy Deal Despite Biofuel Deadlock



http://planetark.org/wen/50731
 
INTERVIEW - EU Near Green Energy Deal Despite Biofuel Deadlock
Date: 01-Dec-08
Country: BELGIUM
Author: Pete Harrison

INTERVIEW - EU Near Green Energy Deal Despite Biofuel Deadlock Photo: Michael Kooren
A vessel passes wind turbines in a wind park 23 km (14 miles) off the coast of Ijmuiden September 3, 2007.
Photo: Michael Kooren

BRUSSELS - The European Union has agreed rough deals on promoting renewable energy, but talks remain deadlocked over the controversial issue of biofuels, the European Parliament's lead negotiator said.
"Nearly 100 pages of the report are done and three pages are not done, but those three pages are the most politically difficult," Luxembourg Green group member Claude Turmes told Reuters late on Thursday.
A deal on improving the access for windfarms, solar and other renewable schemes to the European power grid is almost complete, Turmes added, following closed-door talks between parliament and EU nations to fine tune the laws.
The EU aims for a final, binding deal in the next three weeks.
"This is very good for renewable electricity and getting biogas into the grid," he said. "And we have very stringent provisions on action plans, so member states will have to roll out detailed road maps on how to get to their renewable targets."
"We have agreement on joint renewables projects, and we're really close to an agreement on joint projects in third countries (outside the EU) -- It will be about physical imports of electricity," he added.
That would satisfy Britain, Poland and Germany, which have proposed undertaking shared renewables projects, and Italy, which wants to tap into north Africa's large potential for solar power.
Loopholes have also been closed on the "guarantees of origin" used to cerfify renewable projects
"It will be impossible now for traders to gain millions in windfall profits by using renewables produced cheaply in one country and selling them elsewhere at a higher price," said Turmes.
But a final deal cannot be closed due to a standoff over demands by member states for a review in 2014 and over the controversial issue of biofuels.
"The revision clause, which has been proposed by the French presidency on the request of Italy, would risk completely undermining investment security," said Turmes. "We need to provide regulatory certainty until at least 2020."
He said there was little movement over EU targets for biofuels in road transport, with EU nations backing the original proposal by the European Commission of 10 percent by 2020 and parliament demanding the share of traditional biofuels from food crops be cut to 6 percent.
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 known as "land-use change."
(Editing by James Jukwey)
© Thomson Reuters 2008 All rights reserved
 
 


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[biofuelwatch] Kids take ill after consuming jatropha in Gujarat



Kids take ill after consuming jatropha in Gujarat

 

Jatropha is poisonous.

 

I asked Kalam promoting it to taste a few seeds.

 

Ravinder Singh

November30, 2008

 

Kids take ill after consuming jatropha

 

TIMES NEWS NETWORK November27, 2008 P- 8

 

Vadodara: As many as 12 children studying at Adarsh Shala at Bil village near here were admitted at SSG Hospital with complaints of food poisoning on Wednesday. It is suspected that the children fell ill after they consumed jatropha fruit at the school. The children were rushed to the hospital for treatment after they complained of severe vomiting.

 

When parents enquired what they ate at the school, the kids revealed that they had consumed fruits from a plant near the school premises. It came to light that they had consumed jatropha fruit also known as ratanjyot or jangli erandi.


   Mukesh Patel, father of one of the children Raj admitted at the hospital, said his son had consumed the fruit during the recess. "He was vomiting repeatedly and we took him to a local hospital. We called the emergency services number and the children were brought to the SSG Hospital," he said.


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Saturday, November 29, 2008

[biofuelwatch] Inviting everyone to - keepplanetearthgreen.com



( http://keepplanetearthgreen.com) We have added a feature so people
can add their favorite group, web site or their own info. This site is
for people who like to learn more the focus the site is Global
Warming, Climate Change, Sustainable Living, and Green Building. Or
share information with others. Focus my interests are Global Warming,
Climate Change, Sustainable Living, and Green Building.- Learn. Share
and Post


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[biofuelwatch] Bear Grylls advocates ethanol use with imminent Antarctic expedition



1.  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/3534783/Bear-Grylls-How-are-we-going-to-face-up-to-energy-crisis.html
 

Bear Grylls: How are we going to face up to energy crisis?

As the world economies battle for air, all of us are facing challenging times. But what lies behind the crisis, and what about beyond it?

 
Bear Grylls is best known as a survival expert
Bear Grylls is best known as a survival expert
Beneath the surface of world instability bubbles a much more fundamental issue. How are we going to face up to the earth's energy crisis? And at what cost do we ignore that question?
When we are fighting for basic economic survival it is hard to look beyond our front door, but we must. If we are to have a world worth handing on to our children, we must have the courage to look beyond oil and conventional fossil fuelled power solutions. We must also fight against the cynicism that questions global warming and we must fight against a lethargy that says it is too late or that isn't our problem. It is not someone else's problem.
We all have a chance to make a difference to our struggling planet, and it is our generations time to stand up and be counted. I want to do exactly that. I want my children in the future to know that I didn't stand back and observe, but rather I made steps, however small they were, to bring about change.
I read recently how European Union officials say they're considering an ambitious plan to draw energy from the sun that beats down relentlessly on the Sahara. They say that by building a solar power plant the size of Wales (a small area, compared to the vastness of the Sahara that is almost as large as mainland USA) and laying down high-voltage transmission cables, the EU could potentially capture enough clean energy to power the entire continent. Wow! Why aren't they building this now?
I'ts very hard for any one of us to save the earth alone. I understand that. But this is about a determination to contribute.
Part of each year my young family and me live on a small remote Welsh island. It is a few miles offshore with no mains electricity or running water. We power the island with a small wind turbine and we collect rain water off the roof. It works. Powering the future is about trying to think outside the box and it's about encouraging the pioneers.
In a weeks time I leave for an expedition I am leading down to Antarctica. We are aiming, first of all, to explore part of the remote Antarctic coastline where the great Southern Ocean meets the vast ice continental shelf. We will be doing this using a small bio-ethanol powered jetski and small inflatable. I don't expect it to be exactly easy. We will then aim to scale one of these ice shelves (many of which are over 600ft high). Less easy still, I predict. We will sleep in hanging bivouacs half way up this vertical ice wall before eventually hauling the jetski and inflatable up over the ice face to continue on the mission. We will then be using kite-skis to harness the wind to move across the vast ice plateaus. The team then heads inland to Queen Maud Land in the Antarctic interior and the mighty peaks of one of the least explored regions of the huge continent. Here we set our sights on an attempt on one of the great unclimbed peaks on earth, as of yet un-named. From here we will use electric powered paragliders as a means of escape. These electric engined flying machines have been the holy grail of powered paragliding development – unlike the current fossil fuel burning smoky back-pack engines, these are whisper quiet and un-polluting. On top of this, the entire expedition base camp is powered by renewable energy, using solar panels supplied and a portable wind turbine. All of this is not easy, but in my experience easy is not where the worthwhile stuff happens. Easy doesn't protect our earth. Easy doesn't move people to action.
We want to show that if we can achieve all this in the coldest windiest place on earth we can surely give some of these alternative sources a chance back in sunny England. Our expedition won't save the world, (far from it, we are still flying in commercial airlines to get down there in the first place), but it might encourage people to explore the potential of other alternative energy industries. I want for people to make projects like the Sahara solar mission happen and for people to get properly informed about issues such as bio-fuels, rather than throwing them out, without so much as understanding them properly.
To make this Antarctic project possible I wanted to chose my sponsors carefully. I wanted to find a company that were making an environmentally positive contribution. Ethanol Ventures are aiming to be the leading bio-fuels company in Europe by 2020. Bio-fuels are often the maligned good guys in the struggle to find new power solutions. To the question: are all bio-fuels good, the answer is definitely no. There are good ones and bad ones. Bad ones result in rainforest exploitation and rising food prices. Good ones significantly cut emissions from transport fuels and can be made from European wheat crops that are surplus to food needs (they also happen to produce a high protein animal feed co-product that lessen the need for the imported soy based equivalent). The good and the bad are a world apart. And it is the good bio-fuels companies like Ethanol Ventures that represent are the greatest viable hope for cutting transport emissions.
The ultimate aim is to reach second and third generation bio-fuels, such as ligno-celluslosic ethanol, or in simple terms, power from residues, rubbish and household waste. But to reach these stages we must develop the first generation industries first, but aim to ensure we only get the very best Biofuels on offer. If we risk nothing we gain nothing. Our choice is to remain twiddling our fingers, counting the days until the oil runs dry and the earth is bought to her knees, or to stand up and do something.
My dad used to say that what matters in life is to follow your dreams and to look after friends. If he was alive today I know he would also say look after the world. To lead a ground-breaking expedition to Antarctica has been a dream since I was a child, but to make a positive difference to how we see the potential of alternative energy and bio-fuels is a must. Wish us luck.

 
 
2.  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/celebritynews/3534742/Bear-Grylls-heads-out-on-carbon-neutral-trip-to-the-South-Pole.html
 

Bear Grylls heads out on 'carbon neutral" trip to the South Pole

Bear Grylls, the survival expert, this weekend sets out on his latest adventure - a carbon neutral trip to the South Pole to conquer an unclimbed mountain.

 
Bear Grylls will attempt to scale an unnamed mountain in Antarctica.
Bear Grylls will attempt to scale an unnamed mountain in Antarctica.
The former member of the SAS and youngest Briton to climb Everest plans to scale the unnamed mountain after travelling across Antarctica on jet-skis and under wind-powered kite-ski and electric powered para-glider.
If he is successful in climbing the remote 9,000 ft mountain he and his team of four will be able to name the peak.
The expedition aims to promote alternative energy and bioethanol as a source of power in the future and raise funds for Global Angels, an international children's charity championing the needs of children around the world.
The team, who will endure temperatures as low as -35, will have to traverse 1,000 ft ice cliffs, around 700 miles of high altitude plateau before even attempting the peak.
The trip, sponsored by British biofuel makers, is expected to last two weeks and it is hoped to highlight the potential for carbon neutral fuels that will power the expedition.
"We hope to show through this Antarctic adventure the potential of how bioethanol and alternative energy can sustain our environment and provide a viable power source for the future," said Grylls.
The star of Channel 4's Born Survivor entered the Guinness Book of Records after becoming the youngest Briton to climb Everest at the age of 23.
 
[Ends]


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Friday, November 28, 2008

[biofuelwatch] Report on biochar and other so-called 'carbon negative' bioenergy



My colleague, Deepak Rughani, and I have written a report
called "Climate Geo-engineering with 'carbon negative' bioenergy:
Climate saviour or climate endgame". This can be downloaded from

www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/docs/cnbe/cnbe.html

The report provides a critical analysis of proposals for 'carbon
negative' bioenergy, including biochar (agrichar) and bioenergy with
carbon capture and storage, as a means of reducing atmospheric carbon
dioxide concentrations and mitigating climate change. It includes a
wider discussion about the impacts of large-scale bioenergy, and about
alternative adequate responses to the current crisis.

Almuth


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Thursday, November 27, 2008

[biofuelwatch] EU plans new biofuel sourcing rules amid talks with Brazil



1.  http://planetark.org/enviro-news/item/50700
 
EU Plans To Limit Biofuel Impact On Forests
Date: 28-Nov-08
Country: BELGIUM

BRUSSELS - The European Commission plans new rules for biofuels by the end of 2010 to prevent the valuable trade from encouraging the destruction of rainforests, a document seen by Reuters on Thursday showed.
The Commission, which originates EU law, has proposed that 10 percent of all road transport fuel come 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 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 -- known as "indirect land-use change."
The new proposal will lay down which biofuels, production areas, raw materials or production methods can be used to meet EU goals.
Biofuels grown on degraded land, or made from algae, waste, or forestry and agricultural residues would all be acceptable, the draft document added.
Schemes built before 2012 that produce biofuels which provide greenhouse gas savings of more than 45 percent would be exempted from the rules for five years, so they can recoup their investment.
(Reporting by Pete Harrison; editing by Dale Hudson)
© Thomson Reuters 2008 All rights reserved
 
 
2.  http://www.euractiv.com/en/energy/eu-brazil-deepen-energy-cooperation/article-177435
 

EU, Brazil 'deepen' energy cooperation[fr][de

Published: Monday 24 November 2008   
EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs met Brazil's energy minister in São Paulo last week (20 November) to discuss closer energy relations amid concerns from developing countries that EU calls for strict biofuel sustainability criteria could strangle global trade for plant-based fuels.
Brazil's importance in the "biofuels, energy supply security and climate change debate makes it a privileged partner of the EU in energy related matters," Piebalgs said in a statement following his meeting with the country's energy minister Edison Lobão. 
The EU and Brazil will hold technical meetings at ministerial level in the coming weeks to discuss regulatory issues and joint efforts for second generation biofuels research, part of preparations for a 22 December EU-Brazil summit in Rio de Janeiro, the European Commission said.
Brussels has been keen to ensure good ties with the world's most important producer of agro or biofuels (notably ethanol) following the bloc's controversial commitment to mandate a 10% share of such fuels in its transport sector by 2020. The 10% target, announced by EU heads of state and government in March 2007, was high on the agenda of the first EU-Brazil summit, held in Lisbon in July 2007 (EurActiv 05/07/08). 
Brazil has the greatest potential worldwide for affordable biofuels, experts say. The country's traditional sugar cane cultures provide biomass for the production of ethanol, and soy beans are used to make fuel oils. Environmentalists are concerned, however, that increasing cultivation drives up food prices while leading to the further destruction of large swaths of rainforests as developing states look to capitalise on a lucrative EU market.
The Parliament, which is currently in talks with the Council to finalise a new EU law on renewable energies that includes the 10% biofuels target, is pushing for strict sustainability criteria to ensure that those plant-based fuels which enter the EU market are produced according to environmentally sound methods. The precise criteria are due to be finalised in the coming weeks.
But many developing nations say the EU does not have the authority to dictate how and where one of their key export crops is produced, and that the sustainability criteria essentially translate into trade barriers. Brazil, along with seven other biofuel-producing states - Argentina, Colombia, Malawi, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Indonesia and Malaysia - warned the EU on 6 November that it could file a complaint with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) if the EU were to push ahead with overly stringent criteria, Reuters reported.
Brazil and other biofuels producers have also been hit hard by the global financial crisis. Multi-million dollar plans to develop sugar cane plantations for ethanol production are being scrapped as financing flows dry up, while projections for fuel demand in rich countries are being scaled back considerably due to recession, according to press reports. 
 
[Ends]
 
 


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[biofuelwatch] Plans for large biodiesel refinery in Scotland shelved



http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/tayside_and_central/7752020.stm

£65m bio-fuel plant plan shelved

Ineos had planned to build the plant at Grangemouth

Plans to build one of Europe's largest bio-diesel plants in
Grangemouth, near Falkirk, have been shelved.

Ineos, which controls the town's refinery, said the current economic
slowdown had rendered the project unviable.

It had been proposed that the £65m development would produce half a
million tonnes of bio-diesel each year.

The company has also said a £9m grant from the Scottish Government
for the development would not be needed.

The project was announced in 2006, with the company initially
planning to open the plant this year.

A spokesman for Ineos Enterprises insisted it was still committed to
bio-fuels but that plans for the plant were being "put on hold"
indefinitely.

He said the decision would have no immediate impact on jobs at the
site as staff had been seconded from other roles.

He added that the firm was continuing with plans to double capacity
at its bio-diesel plant at Baleycourt in France.

'Preserving jobs'

In a statement, the company said: "Given the continued and prolonged
global economic downturn, Ineos is focusing on tight control of costs
and expenditure across its entire portfolio.

"As a consequence, ongoing plans to invest in new additional bio-
diesel capacity across Europe are on hold until Ineos has a clearer
picture of the economic outlook.

"Across Europe, manufacturing industry, including chemicals and bio-
fuels, is experiencing a period of unprecedented volatility and
uncertainty and accurate forecasting is expected to remain extremely
difficult in the short-term."

Councillor Craig Martin, convener of Falkirk Council's economic
development committee, said: "We are obviously disappointed that this
innovative idea isn't going ahead.

"However, we fully recognise that many businesses across the UK are
being forced to rethink their operations.

"We are willing to assist Ineos in any way we can, particularly when
it comes to preserving jobs."

Bio-diesel is made from renewable sources like vegetable oils.

It can either be mixed with petroleum-based diesel or, in some
industrial processes, used on its own.

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[biofuelwatch] UK Government Response to the King Review of Low Carbon Cars



The Government Response to the King Review of Low Carbon Cars was published today on the DfT website. The document, which includes several notes on biofuel policy, can now be found at the following Department for Transport website address:
 
 
This publication was preceded by a written ministerial statement laid in Parliament making this announcement earlier this morning. This statement is displayed at the following address:
 
 
Background: Part I of The King Review of Low-carbon Cars, on the potential for carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction, was published in October 2007. Part II, published in March 2008, made recommendations for action.
The Government warmly welcomes Professor King's wide-ranging and comprehensive report. The Government Response document describes how the Government will take forward Professor King's recommendations as part of our wider mission to tackle the climate change impacts of the transport sector.


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[biofuelwatch] Article about jatropha in India in New Agriculturist



http://www.new-ag.info/08/06/focuson/focuson2.php

Oil, toil and trouble bubbling - India's jatropha tussle

Indian government has welcomed biofuels with open arms. Faced with a
rapidly growing economy, the world's second-largest population and an
eye-watering fuel import bill, finding a renewable domestic power
source has become a top priority.

The country's recently-revised national biofuel policy, announced in
September 2008, sets out the government's intentions in black-and-
white: to produce 20 per cent of the country's diesel from crops by
2017, primarily from plantations of jatropha (Jatropha curcas). This
means that the oilseed-bearing shrub, already introduced in some
states, needs to be planted on an additional 14 million hectares of
the country's so-called 'wasteland'. This has ignited fierce debate:
supporters see the move as the solution to the fuel-versus-food
conundrum, while critics are fearful that millions of peasants, who
rely on these lands, will lose out.

Wasteland - a misnomer

A far cry from the post-industrial 'brown field' sites familiar to
planners in the developed world, India's wastelands have historical
resonance. Classified in colonial times as areas that could not be
cultivated and which were, therefore, unable to produce revenue,
everything from forests to semi-jungle to wetlands fell into the
category of 'wasteland'. But, quite unlike the idea of a barren
wilderness, these vast areas - comprising about 25 percent of India's
landmass - are more appropriately described as marginal lands, and
have supported millions of the country's poorest people for centuries.

Traditionally, local communities have looked after these lands as
common resources, coming to depend on them for food, fodder, fuel
wood and medicine. In terms of their day-to-day importance, the
figures speak for themselves: around 20 percent of poor households'
income and over 60 percent of their fuel wood come from common
property resources. In the mixed farming systems of the country's
semi-arid regions, some three-quarters of people depend on the
commons for grazing. Nationwide, the India-based NGO Foundation for
Ecological Security (FES) estimates that the commons contribute up to
US$5 billion to poor rural households. And, with investment and
proper management, the organisation believes the commons could supply
a quarter of the country's fodder needs. These commons also perform
important ecological functions, providing habitats for wildlife,
harbouring rainwater and absorbing greenhouse gases.

For whose benefit?

India's common lands have been under threat for at least the past
half-century, with between 25-50 per cent already lost due to
population pressure and increasing degradation. Little wonder the
proposed jatropha plantations are contentious. "By pursuing the
energy security of the few - the middle classes and the rich - we are
compromising the livelihood security of the poor," laments Subrata
Singh of FES.

The government has tried to find a win-win solution. In an attempt to
help the poor share the rewards of the country's anticipated biofuel
boom, the expansion of jatropha production is taking place through
the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS). Under
proposed plans, local communities will be paid to plant, tend and
harvest the crop on common land. But critics argue that once jatropha
is in the ground, livelihoods will become irrevocably tied to the
productivity of the crop and the stability of its market price.

While jatropha supporters point to the crop's near-magical ability to
tolerate harsh, drought-like conditions, others have suggested that
official estimates of its productivity on suboptimal land have been
exaggerated. If the crop fails to live up to expectations the poor
will have traded access to precious land in return for neither food,
fodder, fuel, medicine - nor a source of income. "Eventually,
planting these areas with biofuels might force people from the land,"
continues Singh. "We are concerned they might become ecological
refugees and migrate to urban areas for their livelihoods."

Redefining the commons

FES has been working with state governments to help communities
achieve legal recognition for the wasteland commons. It has already
assisted communities in six states to establish long-term leases over
the areas they depend on and is promoting investment in land
restoration through the NREGS. The organisation is also working with
the South Asia Pro-Poor Livestock Programme to document the value of
the commons to poor livestock keepers, to protect the land and to
help other communities diversify into animal husbandry.

Despite progress in these areas, India is simply too large for FES to
protect all the affected communities and jatropha plantations have
already swallowed-up pockets of common land. Significantly, in the
same month that the government unveiled its new biofuels target,
state-run refinery Bharat Petroleum announced plans to invest US$480
million in jatropha production. The race for 'wasteland' is well
underway.

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[biofuelwatch] Adair Turner : Aviation biofuels Climate change watchdog backs expansion of Heathrow



Aviation biofuels used to justify possible3rd runway expansion at Heathrow

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/nov/27/climate-change-carbon-emissions-heathrow

Climate change watchdog backs expansion of Heathrow

The UK could meet its ambitious pledge to slash greenhouse gas pollution even if ministers give the go-ahead to expanding Heathrow airport, the government's leading climate change adviser has signalled.

This week the chairman of the government's Environment Agency, Lord Smith of Finsbury, joined critics who say that adding a third runway at Britain's biggest airport would destroy the government's promise to tackle climate change, and increase local air and noise pollution to intolerable levels.

But when asked about the contentious Heathrow plan, Lord Turner, chairman of the independent Climate Change Committee, told the Guardian that it would be possible for aviation to be expanded while still meeting the target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by the middle of this century, especially if airlines were able to use biofuels or other low-carbon power sources.

"It's possible for the world to cut greenhouse gases while still not cutting aviation by anything like as much, even increase aviation emissions," he said.

While not an endorsement of the plans, the comments could pave the way for an announcement before Christmas that Heathrow's owner, BAA, can build a third runway and new terminal to cater for hundreds more flights every day.

Turner was speaking days before the committee will publish its first report outlining how the government will meet its promise on cutting greenhouse gases. Monday's report will include interim targets for reductions which must be achieved up to 2022.

He also warned that:

• Major organisations must not use the recession as an excuse to duck ambitious plans to build a low-carbon economy.

• Promises of new jobs in the green economy should not be overstated by supporters.

He said the recession posed some threats, such as the loss of investment capital, but also opportunities, such as the potential for lower demand for steel and specialist engineering skills which should help reduce costs for renewable energy suppliers, especially wind-turbine manufacturers and operators.

In the short term, emissions should also decline as output fell, but companies should not stop investing in efficiency and clean technology to cut emissions in the longer term. Turner said: "It's very important to avoid misuse of the temporary downturn for lessening policies."

He warned that supporters of a so-called "green new deal" should not exaggerate the number of jobs that would be created, but insisted that the changes should not hurt investment or employment. "Everything we know about economic theory tells us there will be as many jobs in a low-carbon economy as a high-carbon economy," he said.

The comments come amid concern that the economic downturn could signal an end to political and business commitments, including green taxes and regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Following lobbying by the car industry across Europe, the government yesterday watered down a recommended new car emissions target for 2012, saying it would phase in a target by 2020, though it added that it was also pushing for a lower limit.

Shell and BP have been among companies that have pulled out of wind and solar energy projects in the UK, citing better returns in the US, and European plans for ambitious targets for renewable energy and emission cuts have been threatened by lobbying from businesses.

The government's climate change target - formally passed into law last night when the Climate Change Act received royal assent - includes aviation and shipping, though it will not specifically set a target for Heathrow.

This week Alistair Darling's pre-budget report included measures to stimulate green investment, such as extra money for home insulation, but he was criticised for delaying higher taxes on more polluting cars and bringing forward spending for motorway widening.

Environment campaigners were also disappointed that the government did not adopt a more aggressive package of investment in renewable energy and low-carbon technology as a way of creating thousands of new jobs, along the lines of the plans being signalled by the US president-elect, Barack Obama.

However, John Kerry, who will lead the US Senate delegation at the UN climate talks in Poland in December, warned yesterday that hopes the US could help lead a global green recovery by paying countries such as India and China to reduce their greenhouse gases might be constrained by the economic crisis.

"The bottom line is we are not going to be in the position we were in two years ago in the short term to do as much technology transfer or economic assistance in terms of transitional issues that might have led other countries to participate."

 

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

[biofuelwatch] 8.900 new BIOGAS plants will be built in 2009



8.900 new plants will be built in 2009 with over 2700 MW worldwide.
Asian is leading with 34 percent and Europe with 26 percent, followed
by NAFTA and Others. Increasing investments in biogasbusinesses by
energy companies more information :

http://www.hkc22.com/biogas2009.html


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[biofuelwatch] Fwd press release; EU RISKS 'CLIMATE TIME BOMB' ON BIOFUELS



Birdlife International, Friends of the Earth Europe, Oxfam
International, Transport and Environment
PRESS RELEASE
For immediate release: Wednesday 26 November 2008

EU RISKS 'CLIMATE TIME BOMB' ON BIOFUELS

Brussels, 26 November ­

As negotiations over new EU targets for biofuels enter a critical
final phase, environment and development campaigners have warned of
a 'climate time bomb' if so-called 'sustainability criteria' are not
dramatically improved.

The EU's proposed renewable energy directive (RED) calls for 10 per
cent of transport fuel to come from renewable sources by 2020, which
will significantly increase demand for biofuels. Representatives of
the European Parliament, Commission and the French Presidency are
meeting today to hammer out the final details of the sustainability
rules that would apply.

The groups say the latest proposal from the French Presidency does not
take into consideration recent scientific warnings on biofuels and
could actually worsen climate change, endanger biodiversity and
deepen global poverty.

In particular environmental groups are concerned that the French
Presidency has so far failed to respond to European Parliament and
other member state initiatives that would account for the impact
of 'indirect land use change' (ILUC) on overall CO2 emissions from
biofuels. When agricultural land is used for biofuels, additional
land is required for other purposes which can cause, for example,
forests to be cleared for food crops. As a result, biofuels can
actually cause more emissions from 'well to wheel' than crude-oil
based petrol and diesel.

Adrian Bebb of Friends of the Earth Europe said: "The European public
were assured that only sustainably-grown biofuels would be permitted
in the EU. But these so-called sustainability criteria are little
more than political greenwash. Despite all the warning of the
potential harm biofuels can cause, the EU is ploughing ahead with
massive expansion."

Development organisations are concerned that sustainability criteria,
as currently proposed, will do little to tackle the impacts of biofuel
production in the poorest countries including rising food prices and
increased poverty. Biofuel production has been identified by
international agencies and academics as a principal driver of recent
food price rises and is also linked to displacement of rural
populations in poor countries.

Robert Bailey of Oxfam International said: "It is the World's poor
that are being hit hardest by climate change, whilst rich economies
such as the EU are most to blame for it. Europe is now set to
compound this injustice further with a policy that comes at the
expense of poor people's land rights, human rights and food security.
This is in no way sustainable."

Nusa Urbancic of Transport and Environment (T&E) said: "The French
Presidency and the European Commission are sticking their heads in the
sand. They have, so far, ignored the findings of numerous independent
scientific bodies who say land use change is absolutely central to
truly understanding the environmental impacts of biofuels. Weak rules
will now massively increase investment in biofuels - good and bad -
and risk creating a climate time bomb at a moment when the world
needs policies guaranteed to cut emissions."

Ariel Brunner of BirdLife International said: "This directive will not
lead to a sustainable biofuels industry. Indeed, precious wildlife and
fragile ecosystems will continue to be destroyed to make way for
biofuels, without even guaranteeing benefits to the climate."


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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

[biofuelwatch] Intelligent Design Modular Farming: optimizing farming surface use



INTELLIGENT DESIGN MODULAR FARMING

Rainbow Warriors Core Foundation (Rainbow Warriors International) will
soon present a vision paper, a more specific project paper and in the
very near future several concept papers focusing on Intelligent Design
Modular Farming.

Because of several copyright issues that we need to address first and
our intention to release to the global public domain our ideas
utilizing the Creative Commons/Open Commons/Science Commons or other
licenses we are in the process of finalizing the necessary documents.

For now we can provide some detail as to the background and rationale
for Intelligent Design Modular Farming (IDMF).

The concept was born out of necessity to meet several demands, first
and foremost the Millennium Development Goals, specifically for
combating poverty and hunger, meet with demand for food and food
security for the ever increasing human population in cities and the
FAO Food for the Cities initiative.

It combines new insights in organic waste recycling, waste water
recycling, renewable energy technologies, plastics recycling and
organic composting.

It borrows architectural design ideas and concepts on optimizing
surface and three dimensional space and incorporation of vegetation
for decoration and small scale farming into urban design, and builds
on the Japanese concept of modular building design and recent concepts
of vertical farming.

Intelligent design in modular farming is based on modern concepts of
precision farming and smart farming, where networked (netted) sensors
are used, GPS, ICT technologies to regulate various (automated)
processes, provide climate control, and remote data access via the
Internet.

Intelligent Design Modular Farming is a generalized concept for
agriculture, where in contrast to "fixed surface farming", specific
food crops can be grown in mobile or movable modular environments in a
wide range of non-traditional agricultural settings

IDMF was inspired by among others the following (recent) global
developments:
1. Decreasing total available arable land surface worldwide for
growing food crops, or so-called "fixed surface farming" arable land;
2. Increasing utilization of available arable land for food crops
production for production of bio-fuel crops;
3. Increasing public and political interest to reduce so-called "food
miles" for all food products and consequently reduce the carbon
footprint in production thereof (lowering emissions and utilization of
fossil fuels)
4. The necessity to bring production of food items closer to the
actual consumer markets (one of the objectives of urban farming);
5. Degradation of available total arable land caused by contaminants,
pollution, desertification and climate change;
6. Reduction of available arable land caused by population growth and
expansion of built up urban areas, human settlements and
industrial/infrastructural use;
7. Millennium Development Goals, specifically combating poverty and
hunger;
8. Organic farming
9. Utilization of surface areas and spaces currently not suited for
fixed surface based agriculture. Because the actual surface and soil
are not used in Intelligent Design Modular Farming, but crops are
grown in mobile and/or movable modules, previously unsuited surfaces
and spaces can be made available to small and medium scale production
of food crops in urban, rural and agro-industrial settings;
10. Utilization of modern technologies and materials in agriculture
(precision farming and smart farming: ICT and GPS, geo-spatial data,
remote data sensing) renewable energy technologies;
11. The current state of the art in aquaculture, hydroponics and other
forms of fisheries and agriculture in confined (movable) controlled
spaces;
12. Novel urban architectural design concepts integrating green
building design with natural surrounding integration into building spaces
13. Innovations in waste water recycling (reverse osmosis
technologies), plastics recycling (post-consumer plastics are used for
modular farming component production) and renewable energy production
(methane, hydrogen, solar thermal, solar photo-voltaic and wind);
14. Utilization of technologies derived from or adapted from modern
robotics and industrial process automation technologies used on large
scale industrial production areas and in e.g. logistical environments
(automated cargo terminals in sea ports) to small and medium scale
"automated surface grid" environments;
15. Utilization of Semantic Web technologies to create "virtual farm"
environments as envisioned by NASA.

Intelligent Design Modular Farming is part of the flagship Project
Paradigm program of Rainbow Warriors Core Foundation.

More information will be made available in the near future on the web
after the basic papers have been written and provided with adequate
licensing.

We are requesting list members of BioFuelWatch to collaborate in
providing information on research institutes and academia,
non-profits, agricultural entities and representative bodies, web
sites and reports which document the extent of biofuel production and
usage, projected plants, policies etc. in order for us to quantify and
qualify the biofuels industry.

Rainbow Warriors Core Foundation (Rainbow Warriors International)
Contact person; Milton Ponson
Email: core_rainbowwarriors@yahoo.com
Tel.: +297 747 8280
P.O. Box 1154, Oranjestad
Aruba, Dutch Caribbean

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[biofuelwatch] FW: 1) Plans to protect forests could do the opposite, warns Friends of the Earth



 
 
Richard Samuelson
Free West Papua Campaign, Oxford, UK.
 
 


From: Anne Noonan & Joe Collins [mailto:bunyip@bigpond.net.au]
Sent: 25 November 2008 08:22
To: Anne Noonan
Subject: 1) Plans to protect forests could do the opposite, warns Friends of the Earth

1) Plans to protect forests could do the opposite, warns Friends of the Earth


���

2) Sustainable palm oil a farce; Industry body weak and ineffectual



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

1) Plans to protect forests could do the opposite, warns Friends of the Earth

� Alarm sounded in run-up to UN climate change talks
� Corruption and threat to indigenous people feared

International proposals to protect forests as a way of tackling climate change could displace millions of indigenous people and fail to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, environmentalists warn.

In a report to be published on Thursday, Friends of the Earth International (FOE) will argue that current plans to slow the decline of forests by making rich countries pay for the protection of forests in tropical regions are not fit for purpose, as they are open to abuse by corrupt politicians or illegal logging companies in the parts of the world where the money will end up.

Forests lock up a significant amount of carbon and cutting them down is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, currently accounting for around 20% of the world's total.

Deforestation also threatens biodiversity and the livelihoods of more than 60 million indigenous people who are entirely dependent upon forests.

Working out a way to protect forests will be one of the key issues for next week's UN climate change summit in Poznan, Poland, which marks the start of global negotiations to replace the Kyoto protocol after 2012. Government representatives at the meeting will consider adopting the "Redd" mechanism to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation in developing countries, which is based on the idea that richer countries could offset their emissions by paying to maintain forests in tropical regions.

The idea has some of its roots in the 2006 review of the economics of climate change by Nicholas Stern, who said �2.5bn a year could be enough to prevent deforestation across the eight most important countries. But Stern argued that for such a scheme to work institutional and policy reforms would be required in many states with protected forests, such as Indonesia, Cameroon or Papua New Guinea.

In principle FOE agrees that forests could be included in climate change targets, but argues that in its current form Redd is fraught with problems. The group says the proposals seem to be aimed at setting up a way to profit from forests, rather than stop climate change.

"It refocuses us on to the question, who do forests belong to?" said Joseph Zacune, a climate and energy coordinator at FOE. "In the absence of secure land rights indigenous peoples and other forest-dependent communities have no guarantees that they'll benefit from Redd. There's increased likelihood of state and corporate control of their land, especially if the value of forests rises."

At the climate talks next week FOE plans to lobby for forests to be kept out of carbon markets, and for land rights to be enforced as the basis of any future forest policy. "We want some kind of mechanism to stop deforestation," said Zacune. "If there was to be agreement it would have to be developed through a joint process with other forest conventions and human-rights instruments, like the UN declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples."

Another problem is that, under Redd, there is no clear definition of what constitutes a forest: the UN includes single-species plantations such as those for palm oil or other agriculture, which are often grown in areas cleared of virgin rainforests. "Even at their best, they store 20% of the carbon that intact forests do," said Zacune. "This means designing forest policies to match the amount of trees cut down due to the expansion of plantations."

FOE's conclusions echo those of the Rights and Resources Initiative, an international coalition of global NGOs which argued that the rush to protect forests could have unintended consequences. In two reports published in July the RRI warned that the money aimed at protecting trees might end up in the hands of central government officials in areas of the world where they were closely tied to illegal logging and mining activities.

"It is widely acknowledged that poor governance and corruption also need to be addressed if deforestation is to be stopped," said the FOE report. "The question is whether Redd can address these issues, and how it links to existing established processes intended to deal with illegal deforestation (which includes illegal logging and illegal forest conversion to agriculture). Furthermore, would the use of a Redd fund rather than carbon markets improve governments' ability to reign in such illegal activities?"

To counter such problems, Zacune said, the best way to manage forests was to devolve responsibility to locals - an idea proposed by the Pacific nation Tuvalu. "The idea is that they would provide incentives for protecting and retaining their forests. It's the communities and indigenous people who have managed the forests for generations that should be in control of the forest."

Zacune also warned that protecting forests should not become a way for rich countries to pay their way out of reducing emissions. "We need to tackle consumption of agrofuels, meat and timber products which drive deforestation."

Tony Juniper, a sustainability adviser to the Prince of Wales' Rainforests Project, said: "The market is one approach among several possible funding mechanisms. For example, major finance could be mobilised via the auctioning of pollution credits under the EU's emissions trading scheme, or taxes on aviation fuel."

A spokesperson for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said forest carbon trading was a useful way to pump money into deprived forest communities: "Deforestation threatens the rights of millions who depend on forests. The carbon market is a likely source of finance for reducing deforestation and we want to work with like-minded countries to achieve the deepest deal possible."

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



Tuesday, November 25 2008 @ 02:26 AM CST

���

2) Sustainable palm oil a farce; Industry body weak and ineffectual

Tuesday, November 25 2008 @ 12:44 AM CST
Contributed by:�gpsea
Views: 14


Bali/Jakarta, Indonesia � Greenpeace today condemned the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), for failing to take action against member companies who continue to destroy Indonesia�s peatlands and forests at the conclusion of its 6th annual meeting in Bali. "The rapid loss of forests in Indonesia and the current climate crisis needs strong leadership from the global business community. However the RSPO has failed dismally to take up the challenge. "'Sustainable palm oil' continues to be a farce while RSPO stands exposed as a weak and ineffectual industry body." said Bustar Maitar, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Forest Campaigner.

Sustainable palm oil a farce; Industry body weak and ineffectual: Greenpeace

Bali/Jakarta, Indonesia � Greenpeace today condemned the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), for failing to take action against member companies who continue to destroy Indonesia�s peatlands and forests at the conclusion of its 6th annual meeting in Bali.

"The rapid loss of forests in Indonesia and the current climate crisis needs strong leadership from the global business community. However the RSPO has failed dismally to take up the challenge. "'Sustainable palm oil' continues to be a farce while RSPO stands exposed as a weak and ineffectual industry body." said Bustar Maitar, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Forest Campaigner.

As the Bali meeting began, Greenpeace called on the RSPO to support an immediate moratorium on further deforestation and peatland clearance and to revoke the membership of any companies found to be still clearing tropical forest and peatland. However, agreement on any measures to improve RSPO standards and the implementation of existing procedures has been delayed.

In the last twelve months Greenpeace has produced two reports, �Cooking the Climate', and �Burning up Borneo', both of which show that key RSPO members, who have yet to get their plantations certified, are actively involved in tropical forest destruction. Just last week, Greenpeace produced another report showing that United Plantations, the first RSPO certified company, has been violating existing RSPO standards.

During the recent �Forests for Climate tour' of Greenpeace ship Esperanza, field teams uncovered fresh evidence of RSPO-member companies continuing to clear Indonesia's tropical forests and peatlands. Sinar Mas, a prominent member of the RSPO, is right now destroying tropical forests in Papua and around Danau Sentarum national park in West Kalimantan. Duta Palma, another RSPO member, is draining and converting carbon-rich peatland in Indragiri hulu, Riau.

"If the RSPO had any integrity then it would have taken urgent action. For Greenpeace it is clear that the current RSPO standards are too weak, are not implemented and are clearly failing to address this rampant deforestation." said Tim Birch, Greenpeace International Forest Campaigner.

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.

�----------------------------------

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