Friday, March 27, 2009

biofuelwatch - Vegetable oil-fired power station proposed for Portland in Dorset

W4B Renewable Energy Ltd is planning an estimated £30million power plant at Balaclava Bay, Portland Port, to be operational by 2011.

If the scheme gets planning permission, the plant would run 24 hours a day, generate 17.8 Megawatts of electricity and consume 4 tonnes per day of oil including oilseed rape, jatropha, palm oil and waste cooking oils.

more at:

and the company W4B Renewable Energy Ltd is very much in favour of electricity generation from biomass/bioliquids - see:

they also display this statement:

"But instead of encouragement we have every green activist on the planet challenging this goal [the EU RED targets for transport biofuel] as encouraging the destruction of rain forests, peat bogs and pushing grain prices beyond the reach of ordinary people."

so we know where their sympathies lie.


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biofuelwatch - Monbiot: charleaders must curb enthusiasm; Peter Read in debate


Charleaders must cool enthusiasm for settting fire to the planet

Reactions to my 'biochar' stance got a lot of people fired up, but I was too soft on one champion of so-called development

    Olympic flame
    Well that got 'em going. So far James Lovelock, Jim Hansen and Pushker Kharecha, Chris Goodall and Peter Read have all responded in the Guardian to my column on biochar.

    Reading their responses, I realise that it was unfair of me to include James Lovelock and Jim Hansen on the list of those who have been suckered by the charleaders. Their position is more nuanced than I made out. Chris Goodall, to his credit, has accepted that he was too bullish about the technology. The points he makes in its defence seem fair and well-reasoned.

    On the other hand, I wasn't harsh enough about Peter Read. In his response column today he uses the kind of development rhetoric that I thought had died out with the Indonesian transmigration programme.

    To him, people and land appear to be as fungible as counters in a board game. He makes the extraordinary assertion that "degraded land" - which he wants to cover with plantations - is uninhabited by subsistence farmers, pastoralists or hunters and gatherers. That must be news to all the subsistence farmers, pastoralists and hunters and gatherers I've met in such places.

    Then he repeats the ancient canard that, by denying such people the opportunity to have their land turned into a eucalyptus plantation/hydroelectric dam/opencast mine/nuclear test site/re-education camp or whatever project the latest swivel-eyed ideologue is trying to promote, we are keeping them in poverty.

    Has he learnt nothing from the past 40 years of development studies? Does he not understand that development is something that people must choose, not something that can be imposed on them from on high by megalomaniacs?

    As for the "unused potential arable land" he wants to use, that could apply to most of the surface of the planet that possesses a soil layer: rainforest, wetland, savannah - you name it. From my office window I can see a perfect candidate for his attentions: the brakes and thickets of the Cambrian Mountains. I can also see the kind of crop with which Read would cover them: the sitka spruce plantations that blight the lives of everyone who loves the countryside here. Yes this land is degraded, overgrazed and poorly managed. But is there anyone who would prefer that it was all converted to plantations?

    But at least a debate is taking place. This technology has gone largely unchallenged by environmentalists for far too long, fooled perhaps by Read's cunning rebranding of charcoal as biochar, on the grounds - wait for it - that this stuff is "finely divided". By all means, as Hansen and Kharecha recommend, let's use genuine waste - whether from crops, forestry, sewage or food - to make biochar. But let's stop the charleaders from pyrolising the planet in the name of saving it.


    This gift of nature is the best way to save us from climate catastrophe

    Biochar schemes would remove carbon from the atmosphere and increase food supply, says Peter Read

    I believe that George Monbiot, in rubbishing the concept of biochar, misrepresents my work (Woodchips with everything. It's the Atkins plan of the low-carbon world, 24 March). "The great green miracle works like this: we turn the planet's surface into charcoal. Sorry, not charcoal ...

    Now we say biochar." I coined the word about four years ago. It doesn't mean charcoal like you burn on the barbecue, but finely divided pyrolysed (OK, George, "cooked" if you like) biomass prepared for soil improvement.

    Monbiot says that I propose "new biomass plantations of trees and sugar covering 1.4bn hectares ... Read says the new plantations can be created across 'land on which the occupants are not engaged in economic activity'". But this degraded land is former forest that has been logged over and abandoned - not, as Monbiot says, "land occupied by subsistence farmers, pastoralists, hunters and gatherers". Given the chance, impoverished people often opt for a waged income.

    Does Monbiot wish to keep them impoverished for ever?
    In reality there is not the shortage of land Monbiot implies but a desperate shortage of investment in the land. His "global total" of 1.36bn hectares of arable land does not include 2.38bn of unused potential arable land reported by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation, into which such investment, eg irrigation, might go. Moreover, the productivity of the 1.36bn could be raised with biochar pyrolysed from currently wasted agricultural residues, thus linking carbon removal with increased food supply and incomes.

    Monbiot misses the point that the need for land-use improvements comes from the threat of climatic catastrophe. With too much carbon in the atmosphere and oceans, some of it has to be removed and put somewhere safer. Using the gift of nature - photosynthesis which enables green plants to use the sun's energy to absorb atmospheric carbon - is the only economic way.
    One threat arises from the accumulation, summer after summer, of melt-water flowing down crevasses in Greenland's ice sheet to the rock surface under the ice, lubricating glacial flows into the oceans. Studies of pre-historic climate show that this happens suddenly, when the last sticking point gives way, raising sea levels by a metre or so, possibly in a decade. Arctic temperatures have to be brought down, not just stabilised. Emissions reductions alone, however drastic, cannot do that job.

    The remedy is not "an easy way out" but needs hard work and good policy resulting in, to quote last year's Sustainable Biofuels Consensus, "a landscape that provides food, fodder, fibre, and energy; that offers opportunities for rural development; that diversifies energy supply, restores ecosystems, protects biodiversity, and sequesters carbon."

    I do not want my grandchildren to be conscripted into the food, land and water wars that will break out unless an effective plan is devised and implemented. This would not involve usurping the rights of existing occupiers of the land but, since their rights and livelihoods will be extinguished anyhow in such wars, such usurpation would, if necessary, be preferable to catastrophic climatic change. Get your priorities sorted, George.

    • Peter Read is an honorary research fellow at the Centre for Energy Research, Massey University, New Zealand

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    biofuelwatch - 'Crunch year' for world's forests

    By Mark Kinver
    Science and environment reporter, BBC News

    Whether protecting rainforests will give nations a pot of gold remains to be seen

    Efforts to mitigate climate change could be hampered if nations do not agree to protect the world's forests by the end of the year, warn researchers.

    Earthwatch says it is vital for leaders attending a key UN summit in December to find a way to halt deforestation.

    Deforestation accounts for about 20% of the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from human activities, UN data shows.

    The environmental charity will outline its concerns during a public lecture in central London on Thursday evening.

    "This year is the crunch time for forests and climate change," Earthwatch's head of climate change research Dan Bebber told BBC News.

    "We are hoping for big things from the Copenhagen climate summit at the end of 2009," he added, referring to a much anticipated UN gathering.

    "Unless we tackle the question of forests as a mitigation method for climate change, then we will really have lost the battle to keep greenhouse gas concentrations below levels that many people would consider to be dangerous."

    Raising awareness

    Despite the measures introduced by the UN's Kyoto Protocol on climate change, global emissions of CO2 have continued to rise as a result of increasing energy consumption and the loss of forest cover.
    Smoudering remains of a rainforest (Image: HSBC/Earthwatch)
    Until now, rainforests have been worth more dead than alive

    The reason why deforestation accounts for about 20% of CO2 emissions from human activities is primarily a result of old growth tropical forests being felled or burned in order to convert the fertile land into farmland.

    The issue is one of the key topics on the agenda at the UN climate summit in Copenhagen, which will consider how the global climate strategy will look when Kyoto expires in 2012.

    "This year is going to be critical and we feel we need to raise public awareness about this issue as much as possible," Dr Bebber said.

    "There have been some very strong pressures to use forests in an unsustainable way, particularly in the tropics.

    "You could probably make a thousand times more money by converting tropical forests to agricultural land to grow, for example, soya beans than you could managing it in a sustainable way.

    "It is this imbalance that needs to be addressed at a global level."

    Growing money on trees

    Gro Harlem Brundtland, the UN secretary general's climate change envoy, said that emissions from deforestation were comparable to total annual CO2 emissions of the US or China.

    Tropical forest leaves (Image: Paul Harris/Earthwatch)

    Forests 'facing a testing time'

    "Deforestation therefore has to be included in the new climate change agreement," she told delegates at a UN Committee on Forestry meeting in Rome earlier this month.

    "While forests were left out of the Kyoto Protocol, it must now find its place within the broader solution."

    In order to tackle deforestation effectively, Dr Brundtland said it was necessary to develop a regime that "creates the necessary incentives for developing countries to act in the broader interest of... the planet".

    In October 2008, the Eliasch Review - commissioned by UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown - concluded that an international deal to protect forests would reduce the cost of tackling climate change by up to 50% in 2030.

    The report by Swedish businessman Johan Eliasch said cash put aside for carbon saving in rich countries could be transferred to nations with rainforests in need of protection.

    Such a scheme could reduce deforestation rates by up to 75% in 2030, Mr Eliasch concluded.

    The leading contender to cut the loss of tree cover is a scheme called Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD).

    Rainforest in Ghana

    Forest plan may 'fuel corruption'

    It first came to light during negotiations at the 2007 UN climate summit, hosted by the Indonesian island of Bali.

    The resulting "Bali Action Plan" called for "policy approaches and positive incentives on issues relating to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries".

    This led to the formation of REDD, which states that nations "willing and able to reduce emissions from deforestation should be financially compensated for doing so".

    Supporters of the scheme say it will offer the necessary financial incentive to halt large areas of tropical forests being felled.

    However, critics of the scheme are sceptical about how the system of carbon credits will be regulated.

    Whatever scheme is favoured, Dr Bebber, who will be one of the speakers at the Earthwatch Lecture on Thursday evening, says it is vital that delegates at the Copenhagen climate summit reach an agreement on a way to curb deforestation.

    He warned: "If these types of schemes do not get up and running shortly, then we will have really missed the boat."


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    Thursday, March 26, 2009

    biofuelwatch United Nations criticises Indonesia's response to Forests and Climate Change: Expansion of biofuels plantations and plans to market forest carbon fail to respect indigenous peoples' rights

    Press Statement

    23 March 2009

    United Nations criticises Indonesia’s response to Forests and Climate Change:

    Expansion of biofuels plantations and plans to market forest carbon

    fail to respect indigenous peoples’ rights

    In a statement made public on 18 March 2009, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination strongly criticises Indonesia for failing to respect indigenous peoples' rights in relation to oil palm plantations. Oil palm converts existing forests into plantations, in part for the production of biofuels, a process that has resulted in massive forest loss in Indonesia. The Committee also raised concerns about a draft regulation on Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD). The latter envisages the government handing out forest concessions to companies for the capture of carbon much as logging concessions have been handed out in the past, and is proposed as a measure to mitigate climate change by reducing pressure on forests.

    The UN Committee, a body composed of 18 independent human rights experts chosen by governments, explains that it remains concerned that oil palm plantations are the source of numerous conflicts with local communities. It was especially concerned with respect to Indonesia's failure to protect indigenous peoples' rights in connection with oil palm concessions.

    The Committee reiterates its August 2007 recommendation to Indonesia that oil palm concessions must not violate the rights of indigenous peoples to own and control their traditional lands and must not be issued without first obtaining the consent of the affected indigenous peoples.

    Indonesia’s national indigenous peoples’ organization, Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara (AMAN), welcomed the Committee’s statement as further evidence of the growing international concern about the situation of indigenous peoples in Indonesia, particularly as it relates to their rights to own and control their traditional territories. AMAN urges the Government of Indonesia to respond by ensuring that it effectively implements the Committee’s recommendations and by providing accurate and timely reports to the Committee that show the actual situation on the ground.

    Indonesia's draft 2008 Regulation on Implementation Procedures for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation was also criticised by the Committee for being incompatible with the rights of indigenous peoples. The Committee recommended that the draft Regulation, as well as other laws, be reviewed and amended to ensure their consistency with the rights of indigenous peoples to own and control their traditionally owned territories and to consent to activities, such as REDD, that may affect them.

    The Committee's statement was adopted pursuant to its early warning and urgent action procedures, which are only used for the most serious and urgent cases. The urgency was emphasised by the Committee when it asked Indonesia to report back to the Committee no later than 31 July 2009. Indonesia has so far failed to respond to the Committee’s concerns about palm oil expansion along the Kalimantan border, which were first raised by the Committee over a year ago.

    Abdon Nababan, Secretary General of AMAN, calls upon all government institutions to support the implementation of Indonesia's Constitutional responsibilities to recognise and protect the rights of indigenous peoples, not only in Kalimantan’s border areas, but throughout Indonesia. “Since the rights of indigenous peoples is an important national issue, not just as it relates to forests, it requires good will and strong efforts by the various government institutions to work together to implement these rights,” Abdon says. He also emphasized that the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples should be used as guidance for the government in protecting indigenous peoples’ rights and called upon Indonesia to ensure that indigenous peoples fully participate in all decision making that may affect them.

    Abetnego Tarigan, Director of Sawit Watch, explains that his organisation continues to be concerned with development in the border areas, most recently the detention of three Dayak Iban indigenous persons in West Kalimantan who were arrested for opposing oil palm plantations on their traditional lands. Agreeing with AMAN, he calls on the government of Indonesia to stop all activities that are inconsistent with the UN Committee recommendations and to urgently take immediate measures to end repressive actions against indigenous peoples and local communities in handling any conflicts.

    - Ends -

    For further information contact:

    a. FPP: Tom Griffiths, email:; +44-1608-652 893

    b. Sawit Watch: Abetnego Tarigan, email:; +628159416297

    c. AMAN: Abdon Nababan, email:; Cell : +62 811111365

    Notes to Editors

    1. All submissions and the responses by the Committee can be found at
    2. The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination’s letter to Indonesia can be found directly at:
    3. Perkumpulan Sawit Watch is an Indonesian Non-Government Organisation concerned with adverse negative social and environmental impacts of oil palm plantation development in Indonesia. It is active in 17 provinces where oil palm plantations are being developed in Indonesia.
    4. Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara/AMAN (Indigenous People Alliance of the Archipelago) is an indigenous peoples’ organisation that represents indigenous peoples from the whole of the Republic of Indonesia. The Alliance is aimed to be an organisation for indigenous peoples to struggle for their existence and rights inherited with it as well as to struggle for sovereignty in running their lives and in managing their natural resources.
    5. Forest Peoples Programme is an international NGO, founded in 1990 to promote forest peoples' rights. FPP supports forest peoples in their efforts to secure and sustainably manage their forests, lands and livelihoods. For further information visit


    Norman Jiwan

    Head of Department

    Risks Mitigation Initiatives

    Sawit Watch, Association

    Jl. Sempur Kaler No. 28

    Bogor 16129
    Phone: +62-251-8352171





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    biofuelwatch - Climate Change Aviation Jatropha Curcas Linn Bio Jet Fuel

    One of the most exciting developments for aviation is the opportunity to make use of sustainable resources to produce a bio fuel to blend or replace the standard kerosene, or Jet-A fuel that is currently being used. Global policy initiatives insist that the industry takes a lead where other transport sectors have failed to discover clear economic reason for doing so. The Aviation industries global operations platform provides for establishing a complete, least cost, agriculture to industry program of activities, that integrates and addresses many of the seemingly irreconcilable conflicts of interest that have arisen when discussing the promotion of liquid bio fuels and other alternative energy solutions in the tropics and sub tropical regions.

    Climate Change:

    The European Union target of limiting the increase in global mean temperature to 2°C above pre-industrial levels within this century implies two main challenges: a substantial and continuous reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions (by about 70 to 80% or more of present emissions by the middle of this century) and a convincing foreign policy that strives for a maximum per capita emission of about 2 tonnes of CO2-eq by 2050.

    There is no question that atmospheric greenhouse gases (GHG) have risen considerably since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, but there remains considerable debate as to what effects, if any, these gases will exert on earth's climate and biosphere. In spite of this uncertainty, many individuals and corporations are pressing forward to identify, calculate, and report their GHG emissions. For them, the monitoring and reporting of GHG emissions is a critical aspect of doing business, the significance of which will likely only increase as International, national down to local governments move closer toward enacting legislation designed to reduce the emissions of such gasses into the atmosphere.

    We have very little time left to avoid breaching the EU climate change commitment not to exceed a CO2 rise in global mean surface temperature above the pre-industrial level (EC, 2007a). The directive to include aviation in EU ETS (2008/9) has been welcomed yet benefits will be largely conditional on the proposed baseline and ways in which the wider EU ETS develops, particularly the level of the cap. To stand a modest chance of not exceeding the +CO2 threshold, the EU has a window of only 10 years or so in which to bring substantial year-on-year reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Remaining within this + CO2 threshold requires a maximum global atmospheric CO2 concentration of 450ppmv CO2, and preferably 400ppmv CO2.

    Global warming occurs in cycles caused mainly by changes in the sun's energy output and the sun's relative position to the Earth.

    Major Causes of Global Temperature Shifts:

    Astronomical Causes

    · 11 year and year cycles: Cycles of solar variability.

    · 21,000-year cycle: Earth's combined tilt and elliptical orbit around the Sun.

    · 41,000-year cycle: Cycle of the +/- 1.5° wobble in Earth's orbit.

    · 100,000-year cycle: Variations in the shape of Earth's elliptical orbit.

    Atmospheric Causes

    · Heat retention: Due to atmospheric gases, mostly gaseous water vapour (not droplets), also carbon dioxide, methane, and a few other miscellaneous gases - the "greenhouse effect" (The Greenhouse Effect helps to moderate temperatures -- especially night time temperatures. Without the greenhouse effect, the average temperature of the Earth would be -18 degrees C). Solar reflectivity: Due to white clouds, volcanic dust, polar ice caps

    Tectonic Causes

    · Landmass distribution: Shifting continents (continental drift) causing changes in circulatory patterns of ocean currents. It seems that whenever there is a large landmass at one of the Earth's poles, either the North Pole or South Pole, there are ice ages. Undersea ridge activity: "Sea floor spreading" (associated with continental drift) causing variations in ocean displacement.

    Climate change debates range from an absolute professing that there must be every effort made to reduce anthropogenic levels of CO2 emissions to those that advocate business as usual and beyond with arguments that increasing levels of CO2 will actually stimulate numerous world wide benefits.

    The notion of "geo-engineering" solutions, suggest that with present cost estimates the price of artificially removing 50 ppm of CO2 from the air would be about $20 trillion. It is suggested instead that improved agricultural and forestry practices offer a more natural way to draw down CO2, noting that reforestation of degraded land and improved agricultural practices that retain soil carbon could draw down atmospheric CO2 by as much as 50 ppm. Additional significant CO2 reduction could be achieved by using carbon-negative biofuels to replace liquid fossil fuels and phasing out emissions from natural gas-fired power plants, a combination of these approaches could bring CO2 back to 350 ppm well before the end of the century.

    Aviation's status, the need to reduce CHG emissions:

    Aviation and climate policy has received considerable attention recently, for several reasons: deepening concerns that aviation does not pay its external costs, more profound awareness that climate change requires a substantial, urgent response, and acknowledgement that, by 2050, the growth of demand for air travel could potentially consume almost all of the emissions savings achieved by other sectors of the global economy. Consequently, policy makers are under increasing pressure to develop and implement appropriate responses to mitigate the impacts of aviation on climate.

    The political agenda for reducing anthropogenic levels of CO2 have established a global lead promoting policies that support developing alternative energy resources from agricultural endeavour. Liquid bio fuels from oil seed crops are supported throughout the sub tropical regions while there are policy directives that mandate the inclusion of bio fuels in Europe’s transport fuel compliment. The global aviation industry is compelled to consider bio fuel as part of its of energy efficiency activity as in the future all aircraft landing at European airports will have to be in compliance with EU regulations with regard to the use of bio fuel as part of the jet fuel.

    By 2020, 20% of all energy used in the EU has to come from ‘renewable sources’, including biomass, bio liquids and biogas. This translates into different targets for individual Member States. An ‘indicative trajectory’ is introduced, i.e. Member States have to show that they are increasing their use of ‘renewable energy’ over every two-year period. This comprises all types of energy use, though with a cap on the amount of aviation fuel, which is taken into account.

    · Throughout the briefing, the terms ‘renewable energy’ and ‘greenhouse gas savings’ are written into quotation marks to highlight the fact that some types of energy classed as ‘renewable’ by the EU is highly unsustainable and not truly renewable (such as agro fuels and agro energy from large-scale monocultures), and that assumptions made by the EU about ‘greenhouse gas savings’ are very different from scientific evidence about true greenhouse gas emissions associated with agro fuel production.

    By 2020, each Member State must ensure that 10% of total road transport fuel comes from ‘renewable energy’, defined to include bio fuels and biogas, as well as hydrogen and electricity from ‘renewable energy’. The vast majority of this is expected to be met from bio fuels. There are no sub-targets, no interim targets, and no provisions that the 10% target will be reviewed at any time.

    A very small list of a few purely environmental ‘sustainability standards’ will apply to bio fuels and biogas for transport and to liquid bio fuels for heat and power. There are no social, not even basic human rights standards and most environmental aspects are also being ignored. There will be no genuine verification scheme. Instead, whether or not the small list of standards is complied with will be assessed on the basis of company information, or through voluntary certification schemes, or through the existence of bilateral and multilateral agreements. The European Commission will, by the end of 2009, report on whether they propose any ‘sustainability standards’ for solid biomass and biogas for heat and power. There is no obligation on them to propose any such standards.

    Bio Jet Fuel a Sub Tropical Sustainable "drop in" contribution to solutions:

    Use of bio fuel as a substitute or extender for mineral jet fuel (Jet A1 Kerosene) has rapidly moved from a relatively niche research topic to mainstream attention.

    Globally we have sufficient land to biologically sequester global aviation emissions in the long term and to supply sufficient bio fuel.

    Large-scale bio fuel production undoubtedly has a legitimate contribution for solutions. However the current evidence points to environmental harm poor social conditioning with scant economic incentives. In the most optimistic scenarios bio energy could provide over twice the current global energy demand without competing with food production, forest-protection efforts and biodiversity. In the least favourable scenarios, however, bio energy could supply only a fraction of current energy use. The range hinges upon many assumptions, not least of which is the extent to which one believes that institutions, treaties and policy tools can be relied upon as a buffer against misaligned corporate and individual economic interest.

    Throughout the sub tropical regions alternative energy solutions are supported by government policies. Liquid bio fuel derived from oil seed harvests has attracted considerable interest from all sectors. Many cite Jatropha Curcas Linn as the agricultural crop species that is best suited to deliver a replacement for fossil diesel and fossil kerosene (Jet A1 fuel).

    Jatropha Curcas Linn Centres of Excellence:

    Jatropha Curcas has been promoted as the most appropriate plant species for delivering a bio fuel solution to the transport sectors of developing economic regions. Unfortunately, despite positive policy there have been scant economic drivers in place to stimulate first class agricultural activity or pronounced investments.

    While the Aviation industry has been correctly reluctant to engage with the production of a bio fuel substitute or blending inclusion with its highly sensitive fuel requirements global policy initiatives have created an absolute need for the Aviation industry to comply with moves to mitigate CO2 from the atmosphere and contribute to the reduction of GHG's generally by engagement with the use of bio fuel.

    In order to address the issue of Bio Jet Fuel the Aviation industry must take ownership of the complete supply chain for this fuel requirement. Sustainability has been selected as the most significant parameter for the provision of a "drop in" bio fuel solution.

    By establishing strategically placed Centres of Excellence for Jatropha Curcas Linn that guide and control the agriculture to industry activities for the production of a fully certifiable Bio Jet Fuel the Aviation industry will provide for a fully integrated opportunity to establish complimentary Climate Change, GHG mitigation, Sustainable use of resources, Improved land use for both food and fuel, repair and renewal of degraded land areas, improved utility for under-utilised land areas, Compliance with Fair-trade standards, and additional deliverables that have significant economic value at sufficient levels to promote a least cost delivery of Bio Jet Fuel directly into the current global Aviation networks.

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    Wednesday, March 25, 2009

    biofuelwatch - EU to import more palm oil for biofuels

    EU to import more palm oil for biofuels

    Published: 2009/03/25
    HAMBURG: European Union (EU) imports of palm oil are currently increasing and could rise sharply this year largely because of demand for biofuel production, Hamburg-based oilseeds analysts Oil World forecast yesterday.

    "We consider it possible that one to 1.1 million tonnes of palm oil will be used for biofuels in the European Union in calendar year 2009, compared with 0.8 million tonne in Jan/Dec 2008," Oil World said.

    Palm oil use for biofuels has been controversial in Europe because of allegations tropical rain forests are being destroyed for palm production. The first shipment of palm oil certified as coming from sustainable production under a new programme arrived in Europe in November 2008.

    The EU is set to use 550,000 tonnes of palm oil for biodiesel in 2009, up from 450,000 tonnes in 2008 when consumption mainly took place for biodiesel output in Italy, Spain, France and Germany, Oil World said. - Reuters

    [Whereas in respect of overall uses WWF-De reported ( "In Europe, approx. 1-1.5 million tonnes of palm oil was used in power stations in 2005, compared to total imports of palm oil amounting to 3.5 million tonnes. About a third of this was supplied by the Dutch company Biox B.V. (Kerkwijk 2006). Starting in 2007, Biox will be supplied by IOI Group Bhd and Golden Hope Plantations Bhd (both based in Malaysia) and intends to build another four palm oil-based power stations in the Netherlands. In 2005, an estimated 400,000 tonnes of palm oil was used for power generation in the Netherlands alone (F.O. Licht 2006)."]

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    biofuelwatch - Japan opposition call for "tough, binding" biofuel targets

    Tuesday March 24, 2009

    Japan election may bring tougher climate policies

    By Chisa Fujioka

    TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan will adopt greener climate policies if the opposition, ahead in voter polls, wins an election this year and sticks to promises for greater use of renewable energy and bold cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

    The main opposition Democratic Party, which could oust the long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in an election due by October, has pushed for a boost to investment in clean energy projects and the launch of an emissions trading system.

    It has also called for Japan to adopt a target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions to 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, a much deeper cut than the target the government is expected to announce by June.

    But big polluting industries, such as power generators, are likely to oppose deep emissions cuts, particularly during a severe recession.

    Some analysts question the Democrats' ability to follow through on their ambitions once they face such resistance, but the party's lawmakers say they are committed to change.

    "In many aspects, the government's efforts have been inadequate and too passive," said lower house Democrat lawmaker Nobutaka Tsutsui, involved in crafting the party's environmental policies.

    "The government is too close to industries and has therefore been reluctant to impose policies that are seen hurting them, but our party will be free of such ties."

    Climate policy has been an area where the Democrats have been able to differentiate themselves from the current government, which critics say has set lax climate policies catering to companies worried about additional costs.

    Tsutsui said Japan needed tough, binding targets on biofuel and renewable energy use to slash emissions and avoid falling behind efforts by Europe and now the United States, where climate policies have tightened under President Barack Obama.

    Japan, the world's fifth-largest greenhouse gas emitter, is far above its target based on the Kyoto Protocol climate pact to cut emissions to 6 percent below 1990 levels between 2008-12.

    Pressure is also growing on Japan from developing nations to do more to tackle its carbon emissions ahead of U.N.-backed climate talks at the end of the year.

    Nearly 200 nations will meet in the Danish capital Copenhagen in December to try to agree on a tougher and broader climate pact to replace the Kyoto Protocol.

    The Democrats and the LDP have yet to pitch their campaign pledges for the election and climate policy has not been a big focus for voters in the past.

    But a stronger climate stance could become a vote-winner in the world's second-biggest economy this year, as governments worldwide try to create jobs and lift economies out of recession by supporting investment in "green" businesses.

    The Democrats have called for investment in environmental projects to create 2.5 million jobs and the government plans to unveil its own version of a "Green New Deal" soon, including non-interest loans to green businesses.

    More Japanese companies also see environmentally friendly products and a shift to cleaner energy as an opportunity, rather than a cost, and would be willing to foot additional spending despite financial constraints, analysts said.

    "Companies realise that the United States, Europe and Japan are all shifting to a low-carbon society and changes are underway, such as in infrastructure," said Kuniyuki Nishimura, research director at the Mitsubishi Research Institute.

    "They will invest if they know that the business will yield profits in a few years' time, even if it doesn't make money right away."

    The extent of change the Democrats can push through is unclear, however, since a number of party lawmakers, mainly those backed by industry unions, oppose a tougher climate stance and could speak out once policies become closer to reality.

    Nishimura said the Democrats' medium-term emissions target might backfire by forcing companies to focus too much on cutting emissions over the next decade and leaving them with less money for longer-term projects.

    The party also faces a policymaking process that is often slow because government ministries pursue different interests, although the Democrats have also vowed to reduce bureaucratic meddling.

    "Even if the Democrats were to be ambitious on climate policy, implementing measures will depend on how well they can get the bureaucracy to cooperate," said Junko Edahiro, an environmental journalist and president of e's Inc., which hosts speeches and seminars on the environment.

    "It may be difficult to deliver on their pledges 100 percent.
    "Still, the Democrats' will to change matters appears bigger than the LDP, so they will likely take action," said Edahiro, who is also a member of the government's top climate policy advisory panel.

    Copyright © 2008 Reuters

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    biofuelwatch - Hansen, Lovelock and Goodall's replies to Monbiot on biochar


    We never said biochar is a miracle cure

    George Monbiot's implication that we believe biochar is a miracle solution to CO2 reduction is grossly misunderstood

      It is unfortunate that George Monbiot has insinuated that one of us (Jim Hansen) is a believer in biochar as a "miracle" solution for the climate crisis. If he is basing this on our published papers, then he has grossly misunderstood them. An attentive reader would know his insinuation is false by simply examining our land use-related assumptions in our recently published peer-reviewed paper, Target atmospheric CO2: Where should humanity aim?

      Broadly speaking, our climate change mitigation scenarios are strictly illustrative in nature, in other words, they serve to convey the types, magnitude and time frame of mitigation measures needed to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide amounts. Although we do mention waste-derived biochar as a possible mitigation option, it certainly does not mean we are advocating that as the panacea. Indeed, as we very clearly outline in the paper, our scenarios assume waste-derived biochar provides only a very small fraction of the land use-related CO2 drawdown, with reforestation and curtailed deforestation providing a magnitude more. Nowhere do we assert or imply plantations should be grown specifically for biochar, or that reforestation should be at the expense of food crops, pristine ecosystems or substantially inhabited land. Furthermore, all relevant numbers used in our mitigation scenarios are derived from the peer-reviewed scientific literature.

      On the issue of land use changes in general, our paper clearly states any biofuels approach must be very carefully designed, and we cite two major critiques of current biofuels approaches. We agree there are still fundamental uncertainties associated with biochar as a mitigation option, but the peer-reviewed papers we cite describe these uncertainties.

      Monbiot's piece might leave readers with the impression that human-assisted reforestation is a lose-lose situation everywhere on the planet. However, there are numerous scientific assessments that indicate there are hundreds of millions of hectares of suitable, sparsely inhabited lands — lands degraded by human activities in the first place. Given that reforestation occurs on a large scale even in nature (for example natural succession), it makes perfect sense to promote sensible, anthropogenic reforestation, among other reasons to undo the damage caused by large-scale deforestation.

      Pushker Kharecha and Jim Hansen are at the Nasa Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University Earth Institute


      James Lovelock on Biochar: let the Earth remove CO2 for us

      James Lovelock: George Monbiot is wrong to dismiss biochar out of hand – burying carbon is one way to tackle climate change

        I usually agree with George Monbiot and love the way he says it but this time – with his assertion that the latest miracle mass fuel cure, biochar, does not stand up – he has got it only half right.

        Yes, it is silly to rename charcoal as biochar and yes, it would be wrong to plant anything specifically to make charcoal. So I agree, George, it would be wrong to have plantations in the tropics just to make charcoal.

        I said in my recent book that perhaps the only tool we had to bring carbon dioxide back to pre-industrial levels was to let the biosphere pump it from the air for us. It currently removes 550bn tons a year, about 18 times more than we emit, but 99.9% of the carbon captured this way goes back to the air as CO2 when things are eaten.

        What we have to do is turn a portion of all the waste of agriculture into charcoal and bury it. Consider grain like wheat or rice; most of the plant mass is in the stems, stalks and roots and we only eat the seeds. So instead of just ploughing in the stalks or turning them into cardboard, make it into charcoal and bury it or sink it in the ocean. We don't need plantations or crops planted for biochar, what we need is a charcoal maker on every farm so the farmer can turn his waste into carbon. Charcoal making might even work instead of landfill for waste paper and plastic.

        Incidentally, in making charcoal this way, there is a by-product of biofuel that the farmer can sell. If we are to make this idea work it is vital that it pays for itself and requires no subsidy. Subsidies almost always breed scams and this is true of most forms of renewable energy now proposed and used. No one would invest in plantations to make charcoal without a subsidy, but if we can show the farmers they can turn their waste to profit they will do it freely and help us and Gaia too.

        There is no chance that carbon capture and storage from industry or power stations will make a dent in CO2 accumulation, even if we had the will and money to do it. But we have to grow food, so why not help Gaia do the job of CO2 removal for us?
        James Lovelock is an independent scientist, author, researcher, environmentalist. He is known for proposing the Gaia hypothesis.


        Biochar: Much is unknown but this is no reason to rule it out

        Biochar - where wood and crop wastes are cooked to release the volatile components buried in the soil - is a cheap and highly beneficial way of disrupting the global carbon cycle

          A seedling grown in a potting mixture including Biochar. Photograph:

          A seedling grown in a potting mixture including Biochar. Photograph:

          George Monbiot is right to tell biochar enthusiasts to calm down. Some of us have been guilty of febrile proselytising for this most unlikely scheme for geo-engineering. It is often thus: it is only after a period of reflection and assessment that some of the disadvantages of a new weapon against climate change become apparent.

          Nevertheless in his eagerness to get us to tone down our enthusiasm he goes too far. Biochar is a useful and important way to help reduce atmospheric concentrations of CO2.
          First of all, let's ask why small knots of dedicated people have been focusing on biochar for the past five or 10 years. Biochar looks as if it is a cheap and highly beneficial way of disrupting the global carbon cycle.

          As plants grow, they naturally absorb carbon dioxide, only to give it back as they die and then rot away. Huge volumes of carbon are continuously moving between the soil, plants and the atmosphere, dwarfing the emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. If instead of letting plant matter rot, it is turned into charcoal which is almost pure carbon and stable for many centuries, we are reducing atmospheric concentrations of CO2.

          No one disputes the basic science, even George. If we can get this to work on a large scale, we can make a significant difference to greenhouse gas levels. We will have to take the organic outputs of large areas of land in order to achieve this and Monbiot is right to express horrified disbelief at some of the figures that we have suggested.

          Here we depart from the path of agreement. Monbiot mentions but then ignores the other benefits of biochar. These are at least as important as direct climate change mitigation. First, soil dosed with charcoal can substantially improve agricultural productivity. Food crops grow better. Trees planted in biochar often have better root systems. Crop yields are improved. This means that we can provide food supplies for more people from a smaller area of land. Growing bigger plants and trees, which are largely made from carbon, hydrogen and oxygen has a secondary effect of holding back CO2 that would otherwise be in the air. It is another form of useful carbon sequestration, albeit a once-only gain, adding to the primary effect of storing charcoal in the soil.

          The second effect of biochar is to reduce the emission of other greenhouse gases, such as nitrous oxide and methane, from the soil. Thirdly, conventional fertilisers added to biochar appear to be much more effective and less likely to be washed away. Biochar-dosed soil therefore maintains its fertility better.

          No one argues that biochar's effects are well understood. Scientific investigation is only just beginning. Next month sees the publication of Biochar for Environmental Management, a book edited by Johannes Lehmann and Stephen Joseph, two of the world's pre-eminent scientific advocates of biochar. This 400-page book is not the work of gullible fools, it is a resolutely serious attempt to tell the world of the many uncertainties surrounding how best to make and apply biochar.

          Its chapters on climate change mitigation are not an attempt to minimise the problems but rather to offer realistic and practical ways of utilising biochar's beneficial properties for the good of the planet and its poorer people. Yes, we don't yet understand fully why biochar works but this is not an argument to ignore it or rule it out. I challenge George to read the science in this book and then tell us whether he is quite so sceptical as he is today.

          • Chris Goodall is the author of Ten Technologies to Save the Planet

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          Tuesday, March 24, 2009

          biofuelwatch - 'Woodchips with everything.'

          Woodchips with everything. It's the Atkins plan of the low-carbon world.

          The latest miracle mass fuel cure, biochar, does not stand up; yet many who should know better have been suckered into it.

          Whenever you hear the word miracle, you know there's trouble just around the corner. But no matter how many times they lead to disappointment or disaster, the newspapers never tire of promoting miracle cures, miracle crops, miracle fuels and miracle financial instruments. We have a limitless ability to disregard the laws of economics, biology and thermodynamics when we encounter a simple solution to complex problems. So welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the new miracle. It's a low-carbon regime for the planet that makes the Atkins diet look healthy: woodchips with everything.

          Biomass is suddenly the universal answer to our climate and energy problems. Its advocates claim that it will become the primary source of the world's heating fuel, electricity, road transport fuel (cellulosic ethanol) and aviation fuel (biokerosene). Few people stop to wonder how the planet can accommodate these demands and still produce food and preserve wild places. Now an even crazier use of woodchips is being promoted everywhere. The great green miracle works like this: we turn the planet's surface into charcoal.

          Sorry, not charcoal. We don't call it that any more. Now we say biochar. The idea is that wood and crop wastes are cooked to release the volatile components (which can be used as fuel), then the residue - the charcoal - is buried in the soil. According to the magical thinkers who promote it, the new miracle stops climate breakdown, replaces gas and petroleum, improves the fertility of the soil, reduces deforestation, cuts labour, creates employment, prevents respiratory disease and ensures that when you drop your toast it always lands butter side up. (I invented the last one, but give them time).

          They point out that the indigenous people of the Amazon created terras pretas (black soils) by burying charcoal over hundreds of years. These are more fertile than the surrounding soils, and the carbon has stayed where they put it. All we need to do is to roll this out worldwide and the world's problems - except, for the time being, the toast conundrum - are solved.

          It takes carbon out of circulation, reducing atmospheric concentrations. It raises crop yields. If some of the carbon is produced in efficient cooking stoves, it reduces the smoke in people's homes and means they have to gather less fuel, curtailing deforestation.

          This miracle solution has suckered people who ought to know better, including James Lovelock, Jim Hansen, the author Chris Goodall and the climate campaigner Tim Flannery. At the UN climate talks beginning in Bonn on Sunday, several governments will demand that biochar is made eligible for carbon credits, providing the financial stimulus required to turn this into a global industry. Their proposal boils down to this: we must destroy the biosphere in order to save it.

          In his otherwise excellent book, Ten Technologies to Save the Planet, Goodall abandons his usual scepticism and proposes we turn 200m hectares of "forests, savannah and croplands" into biochar plantations. Thus we would increase carbon uptake by grubbing up "wooded areas containing slow-growing trees" (that is, natural forest) and planting "faster growing species". This is environmentalism?

          But that's just the start of it. Carbonscape, a company that hopes to be among the first to commercialise the technique, talks of planting 930m hectares. The energy lecturer Peter Read proposes new biomass plantations of trees and sugar covering 1.4bn hectares.

          The arable area of the UK is 5.7m hectares, or one 245th of Read's figure. China has 104m hectares of cropland. The US has 174m. The global total is 1.36bn. Were we to follow Read's plan, we would either have to replace all the world's crops with biomass plantations, causing instant global famine, or double the cropped area, trashing most of the remaining natural habitats. Read was one of the promoters of first-generation liquid biofuels which played a major role in the rise in the price of food last year, throwing millions into malnutrition. Have these people learned nothing?

          Of course they claim everything can be reconciled. Peter Read says the new plantations can be created across "land on which the occupants are not engaged in economic activity". This means land used by subsistence farmers, pastoralists, hunters and gatherers and anyone else who isn't producing commodities for the mass market: poorly defended people whose rights and title can be disregarded. Both Read and Carbonscape speak of these places as "degraded lands". We used to call them unimproved, or marginal. Degraded land is the new code for natural habitat someone wants to destroy.

          Goodall is even more naive. He believes we can maintain the profusion of animals and plants in the rainforests he hopes to gut by planting a mixture of fast-growing species, rather than a monoculture. As the Amazon ecologist Philip Fearnside has shown, a mixture does "not substantially change the impact of very large-scale plantations from the standpoint of biodiversity".

          In their book Pulping the South, Ricardo Carrere and Larry Lohmann show what has happened in the 100m hectares of industrial plantations established around the world so far. Aside from destroying biodiversity, tree plantations have dried up river catchments, caused soil erosion when the land is ploughed for planting (meaning loss of soil carbon), exhausted nutrients and required so many pesticides that the run-off has poisoned marine fisheries.

          In Brazil and South Africa, tens of thousands of people have been thrown off their land, often by violent means, to create plantations. In Thailand the military government that came to power in 1991 sought to expel five million people. Forty thousand families were dispossessed before the junta was overthrown. In many cases plantations cause a net loss of employment. Working conditions are brutal, often involving debt peonage and repeated exposure to pesticides.

          As Almuth Ernsting and Rachel Smolker of Biofuelwatch point out, many of the claims made for biochar don't stand up. In some cases charcoal in the soil improves plant growth, in others it suppresses it. Just burying carbon bears little relation to the farming techniques that created terras pretas. Nor is there any guarantee that most of the buried carbon will stay in the soil.

          In some cases charcoal stimulates bacterial growth, causing carbon emissions from soils to rise. As for reducing deforestation, a stove that burns only part of the fuel is likely to increase, not decrease, demand for wood. There are plenty of other ways of eliminating household smoke which don't involve turning the world's forests to cinders.

          None of this is to suggest that the idea has no virtues, simply that they are outweighed by hazards, which the promoters have overlooked or obscured. Nor does this mean that charcoal can't be made on a small scale, from material that would otherwise go to waste. But the idea that biochar is a universal solution that can be safely deployed on a vast scale is as misguided as Mao Zedong's Great Leap Backwards. We clutch at straws (and other biomass) in our desperation to believe there is an easy way out.


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          Monday, March 23, 2009

          biofuelwatch - New Alert: Call on US Government to halt support for large-scale biofuels


          Call on U.S. Government to Halt Ecologically Misguided Support for Large Scale Biofuel

          By Rainforest Rescue (Rettet den Regenwald)

          In partnership with Ecological Internet's Climate Ark

          March 23, 2009


          Fuel from food and already overstressed terrestrial ecosystems is immoral and unsustainable. The Obama administration must start by rejecting the proposal to increase the corn ethanol fuel blend limit from 10-15%.


          Please support US environmental and social justice groups calling upon the new Obama administration to halt financial and policy support for large scale biofuel production. In particular, the Obama government's potential support for agrofuel expansion -- making of transportation fuels from food -- runs counter to their aim to urgently address climate change and threatens to cause more hunger, human rights abuses, and degradation of soil and water.

          The Obama administration promised to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to boost renewable energy. Unfortunately, a large part of their solution involves further boosting agrofuel production, both in the US and abroad. The new administration must heed the overwhelming evidence that agrofuels worsen climate change through further deforestation and the destruction of other ecosystems; drive food prices up, forcing more and more people worldwide into hunger and malnutrition; and decimate biodiversity and ecosystems.

          Rainforest Rescue and Ecological Internet are concerned with America's growing ethanol industry, and the implications it has in setting a precedent for massive agricultural industrialisation of the world's remaining rainforests and other natural wildlands. We concur with the growing ecological consensus that large-scale industrial production of transport fuels and other energy from plants such as corn, sugar cane, oil palm, soya, trees, grasses, or so- called agricultural and woodland waste threatens forests, biodiversity, food sovereignty, community-based land rights and will worsen climate change.

          TAKE ACTION NOW:


          Dr. Glen Barry
          Ecological Internet, Inc.
          PO Box 9704
          Seattle, WA 98109

          Ecological Internet's projects include:

          EcoEarth.Info -- http://www.EcoEarth.Info/
          Climate Ark --

          Water Conserve --
          Rainforest Portal --
          Ocean Conserve --
          My.EcoEarth.Info --
          New Earth Rising (new e-zine) --


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          biofuelwatch - The Amazon and oil palm

          Hi y'all,
          Here is a very troubling report on threats to the Amazon from oil palm.
          News story:

          Journal paper:

          Lots more in our biofuel newsfeed at:

          I am adding in materials from this list as well.

          Dr. Glen Barry
          Ecological Internet, Inc.
          PO Box 9704
          Seattle, WA 98109

          Ecological Internet's projects include:

          EcoEarth.Info -- http://www.EcoEarth.Info/
          Climate Ark --

          Water Conserve --
          Rainforest Portal --
          Ocean Conserve --
          My.EcoEarth.Info --
          New Earth Rising (new e-zine) --


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          Sunday, March 22, 2009

          biofuelwatch - Reuters Summit - Economic Recovery May Rekindle Food/Fuel Debate

          A great quote from United Plantations Bhd director Martin Bek-Nielsen: "The only reason why first-generation biofuels are economically viable in Europe is because of the enormous subsidies."

          It was his brother and fellow UP director Carl Bek-Nielsen who said in 2006: "Even if it is another oil that is goes into biodiesel, that other oil then needs to be replaced. Either way, there's going to be a vacuum and palm oil can fill that vacuum - be it for biodiesel or for food"

          Reuters Summit - Economic Recovery May Rekindle Food/Fuel Debate
          Date: 23-Mar-09
          Country: US
          Author: Karl Plume

          CHICAGO - The steep drop in energy prices from last year's peaks has cooled the food-versus-fuel debate for the moment, but the battle may be rekindled by an eventual global economic recovery or energy price rebound.

          The push to produce more biofuels like corn-based ethanol or biodiesel made from soybean oil or palm oil helped drive prices of raw food commodities to record highs last year, prompting double-digit food price inflation in some countries.

          It also set off a debate over the morality of using food crops to make fuel while millions around the world go hungry.

          Now, initiatives to expand the production and use of renewable fuels in the name of national security, domestic job growth or to combat climate change may further fan the controversy, according to several food and agriculture company executives and industry analysts speaking at the Reuters Food and Agriculture Summit in Chicago and elsewhere.

          "At the moment, the food-versus-fuel debate has been put on the back burner given what we have seen in the commodities markets," said Doug Whitehead, a soft commodity analyst at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd.

          "But it (biofuel) is still a very significant demand source for the feed grains and ... it is likely to increase with the US government looking to increase their ethanol blending mandates," he said, referring to recent calls to raise the percentage of ethanol allowed in US gasoline blends.

          Food and energy prices have retreated since last summer amid wider global economic woes, but with a large biofuels industry now in place and poised to expand once economic conditions allow, competition for the limited supply of food crops will heat up again.

          With next-generation biofuels made from non-food sources including grasses and agricultural waste still years away from widespread commercialization, food crop based fuels will be the primary source of bioenergy for now.

          US ethanol makers were projected to use nearly a third of corn output this year, up from about a quarter last year, according to the latest US Agriculture Department data.

          Ethanol supporters in the United States recently petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to increase the amount of ethanol that blenders can mix into the US fuel supply from the current 10 percent to 12 to 13 percent or more.

          Industry sources said higher blends would consume 200 million more bushels of corn, given current fuel demand.

          Meanwhile, global demand for both food and fuel will continue to accelerate as a growing middle class in developing nations like China and India consumes higher quality foods while industrialization increases energy demand.

          "We keep adding mouths to feed. As long as you don't have another collapse in some of the major economies like China or India, we will see continued demand growing in those areas," said Mark Palmquist, executive vice president and chief operating officer of US farmer cooperative CHS Inc.

          Demand for energy will also continue to grow as countries emerge from the current grim economic climate.

          "The world's demand for energy is going to continue to increase at an accelerating rate," said Brett Begemann, executive vice president of global commercial businesses at seed company Monsanto. "We ought to be pursuing all alternatives for producing energy."

          He said advances in biotech seed technology can help boost grain yields needed to increase ethanol output.

          But the future of renewable fuels is murky in some parts of the world as a lack of government support for the industry in some producing nations clashes with price-distorting import tariffs and government subsidies elsewhere.

          The biodiesel sector needs high oil prices and low vegetable oil prices to remain competitive with traditional diesel made from crude oil.

          "Without subsidies and without support from the government, I can't see how biodiesel production is at all economically viable," said Martin Bek-Nielsen, executive director at United Plantations in Kuala Lumpur.

          "The only reason why first-generation biofuels are economically viable in Europe is because of the enormous subsidies."

          (Reporting by Karl Plume, additional reporting by Naveen Thukral in Kuala Lumpur, editing by Matthew Lewis)

          © Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved

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          biofuelwatch - Indonesia's Sinar Mas Defends Palm Oil Expansion

          Indonesia's Sinar Mas Defends Palm Oil Expansion
          Date: 23-Mar-09
          Country: INDONESIA
          Author: Aloysius Bhui

          JAKARTA - Sinar Mas Group, one of Indonesia's top palm oil growers, denied on Friday accusations that its activities were damaging the environment and said it would stick to plans to expand its plantations.

          Greenpeace activists have targeted Sinar Mas in a recent campaign for contributing to deforestation in Indonesia, which is blamed as a key source greenhouse gas emissions in the Southeast Asian country.

          "We should have been arrested if we had ever been involved in deforestation," Gandi Sulistiyanto, a managing director of Sinar Mas Group, told Reuters.

          He said the company only opened up new plantations in degraded land that had been farmed on or previously logged and not rainforest.

          Sinar Mas Group owns publicly-listed PT Sinar Mas Agro Resources Tbk (SMART), which runs its palm oil business, and Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), which operates the pulp and paper business.
          Bustar Maitar, Greenpeace Southeast Asia forest campaigner, accused Sinar Mas of destroying forest areas.

          "We are facing the greatest threat to humanity -- climate chaos, yet still companies like Sinar Mas can continue to destroy forests and peatlands, rather than protecting them for future generations," Maitar said in a statement.

          As of the end of September, SMART managed 127,124 hectares (314,100 acres) of planted oil palm, according to the company.

          It produced 410,314 tonnes of crude palm oil in January-September last year, against 509,095 tonnes in all of 2007.

          The group has earmarked a $100 million palm expansion this year and is not planning to pull back the plan.

          "We are still a growing company. We (Indonesia) are still competing with Malaysia to become the world's top producer of palm oil. So we must keep planting," Sulistiyanto said.

          He said the current financial crisis may slow down the expansion but would not stop the firm from planting in new areas.

          According to Greenpeace, Sinar Mas has 200,000 hectares of unplanted concessions in rainforest in Indonesia and plans to acquire an additional 1.1 million hectares, mainly in Papua.
          Sulistiyanto said the firm was currently focused on managing the 11,000 hectares that it has planted with oil palm in the past 14 years in Papua.

          "Everybody is eyeing Papua because of its huge land but we haven't got any more concessions there," he said.

          Indonesia, the world's top producer of palm oil -- used in a wide range of products, from soap to biodiesel -- is expected to produce 20.25 million tonnes of palm oil in 2009, up from 18.8 million in 2008, the industry association has estimated.

          Annette Cotter, campaign manager for the forests campaign in Greenpeace Southeast Asia, has urged Indonesia palm growers to squeeze far higher yields from existing plantations rather than open up more land.

          Indonesia yields only about 2 tonnes per hectare from its plantations, or just a third of the 6 to 7 tonnes in countries such as Malaysia with better estate management practices.
          (Editing by Ed Davies and Valerie Lee)

          © Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved

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          Wednesday, March 18, 2009

          biofuelwatch - PROTEST: Blue-NG dubbed 'Entrpreneur Without Conscience'

          Indymedia pictures and report:

          Thirty protesters from Food Not Fuel (London) and Biofuelwatch convened outside the Royal Society on Monday 16th where the Entrepreneurs With Conscience event was hosted, to protest against agrofuel energy company Blue NG. Blue NG recently gained planning permission for the UK's first agrofuel power station at Beckton, Newham, East London despite a 1000-strong petition from the local community concerned about toxic emissions and the proximity of the proposed plant to Gallions primary school. Newham has the highest mortaility rate for asthma in people under 30 in England. Blue NG are now applying for a second agrofuel power station in Ealing and intend to build a total of 43 agrofuel power plants across the country.

          Colourful banners and a megaphone were used to make explicit the concerns held by the local community and the 100 NGOs who have signed an Open Letter calling for agrofuels to be kept out of CHP.

          Blue NG has won support by promoting geo-pressure, which acted as a cover for agrofuels and the lucrative agrofuel subsidies which make expansion so profitable. Geo-pressure was not part of the planning application for the first biofuel plant at Beckton.

          Blue NG promote rapeseed oil as a sustainable fuel even though the UN FAO has conclusively linked its use in transport fuels to increased imports of palm oil in the EU. Blue NG have also refused a request from Biofuelwatch to confirm they would not burn palm oil. To date Blue NG has offered no binding commitments on sourcing or sustainability.

          The Beckton power plant will burn 56,000 litres of vegetable oil a day; if the 43 intended plants are of similar size this would amount to nearly half of the UK's entire rapeseed oil crop!


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          biofuelwatch - UN warns of rising demand for clean water

          By CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA Christopher Torchia – Mon Mar 16

          ISTANBUL – Worldwide demand for water is rising just as access to safe drinking water and sanitation remains inadequate in much of the developing world, the United Nations said Monday, calling for better management to alleviate water shortages.

          Population growth and mobility, as well as increased energy production, especially of biofuels such as ethanol, are contributing to the high demand for water, UNESCO said on the first day of a global water forum in Istanbul, Turkey's largest city.

          "With increasing shortages, good governance is more than ever essential for water management. Combating poverty also depends on our ability to invest in this resource," said Koichiro Matsuura, director-general of the U.N. agency. He urged leaders who will gather for the G-8 summit in Italy in July to pledge investment in water resources to help prevent a "major water crisis."

          Thousands of activists, entrepreneurs, mayors, parliamentarians and business executives have gathered for the weeklong World Water Forum, which is held every three years to promote ideas about conserving, managing and supplying water. Climate change and the impact of the global economic meltdown are key issues on the agenda this year.

          Earlier Monday, police used truncheons and tear gas to disperse a small group of Turkish demonstrators who rallied outside the conference center to protest what they said was the forum's promotion of water as a commodity. The protesters said big water companies benefit from privatization, and that the poor are entitled to clean water as a "human right."

          About 20 protesters who tried to enter the complex in Istanbul were detained, according to an Associated Press photographer at the scene.

          The forum, whose members include the World Bank and the International Committee of the Red Cross, deny they represent special interests. Still, companies were exhibiting water-related products at the conference complex on the Golden Horn, the city's peninsula.

          UNESCO said half a billion people in Africa lack access to adequate sanitation, and that 5,000 children die daily from diarrhea, a disease that can be prevented with clean water. The agency said the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day is roughly the same as the number without access to safe drinking water.

          "In America, diarrhea is bad takeout," said John Sauer of Water Advocates, a U.S.-based nonprofit group. "In Chad, it's the difference between life and death."

          Two dozen U.N. agencies released a report that said countries fail to share water data, GDP growth had been held back by as much as 10 percent in areas where water investment was weak and donors are not meeting aid commitments.

          "In recent years, the share of aid going to water supply and sanitation has stagnated at around 4 percent, while that to other areas of the water sector has actually dropped," Matsuura said.

          Water demand is increasing partly because of the rising production of ethanol and other biofuels in countries such as Brazil and the United States. Large amounts of water and fertilizers are needed to grow the crops needed to make biofuels, placing additional stress on the environment, according to the U.N.

          But Growth Energy, a trade group for the U.S. ethanol industry, said American ethanol plants have reduced their use of water by 26.6 percent since 2001 because of technological advances and water recycling programs, while recording a 6.4 percent increase in yield.

          "Somehow these activities are conveniently left out of the U.N.'s report," spokesman Jin Chon said.

          In addition, the U.N. said many countries have legislation that protects and manages water resources, but reforms "have yet to have any noticeable effect" because water policy needs to include decision-makers in other fields such as agriculture, energy, trade and finance.


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