Wednesday, September 30, 2009

biofuelwatch-UK biomass plans pretty scary

New 350MW plant fuels UK biomass energy boom Environment Agency gives go ahead to Welsh wood chip-fueled power plant capable of providing energy to 500,000 homes James Murray, BusinessGreen, 30 Sep 2009

The UK's burgeoning biomass industry received a further boost today with news plans for Britain's largest wood-fired power station have been given the go ahead by the Environment Agency.

The 350MW Prenergy plant in Port Talbot, South Wales is expected to generate power for up to 500,000 homes while cutting emissions by between 50 and 80 per cent compared to gas or coal fired power stations.

The Environment Agency said that the permit would be dependent on Prenergy ensuring the new facility has no measurable impact on local air quality and the wider environment.

It also requires Prenergy to deliver quantifiable carbon emission reductions by only using wood chips sourced from sustainably certified sources - the first time such a clause has been included for biomass plant.

Tony Grayling, the Environment Agency's head of climate change and sustainable development, hinted that all future biomass plants would be subject to similar conditions regarding where they source materials from.

"As part of its environmental permit, Prenergy must prove to the Environment Agency that its wood is sustainable," he said. "If the sustainability standard is met, this new station will be a big step towards meeting the Government's climate change and renewable energy targets. In the future we would like to see all biomass developers meet the high standards that have been set by Prenergy."

The news completes a good week for the UK's biomass energy sector, after energy giant Npower announced it has inked a major deal to provide heat and electricity from its planned 50MW biomass plant in Scotland to paper manufacturer Tullis Russell.
The company's renewable energy arm said that the deal was likely to be just one of a number of contracts with local businesses that will see them provided with low carbon heat and power from the £200 million plant when it comes online in 2012.
Paul Cowling, managing director of RWE npower renewables, said the new plant would reduce annual carbon emissions by 250,000 tonnes while generating six per cent of Scotland's renewable energy targets.

In related news, construction work is also set to begin early next year on one of the UK's largest anaerobic digestion plans after proposals for a 2.5MW plant from biogas firm Monsal were given the go ahead. The company said that the new plant in Cambridgeshire was scheduled to come online next year and would convert local food waste into heat, electricity and 12,000 tons of compost.

The latest developments further underline the health of a sector that was recently singled out by investors as offering the best short term returns of any clean technology. The UK government also gave the go ahead for a raft of large biomass plants over the summer as it seeks to hit its target of generating 15 per cent of the UK's energy from renewable sources by 2020.


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biofuelwatch-BIOMASS and the US climate bill [1 Attachment]

CLIMATE: Battle over biomass looms in Senate (09/22/2009)

Patrick Reis, E&E reporter

The biomass industry and environmental groups are gearing up for a lobbying battle that could stretch the climate coalition past its breaking point.

Support for biomass energy and biofuels in the House climate bill (H.R. 2454) were a key carrot dangled to garner the support of farm-state moderates, but for some environmental groups, it was another in a series of compromises that made the bill too weak to tolerate.

After repeated struggles between liberal Democrats and Blue Dog moderates including Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), the final House bill would not require biomass plants to buy carbon allowances for their emissions or count those emissions as part of the total U.S. contribution to global warming.

Biomass advocates claimed victory, saying the bill was right to characterize it as carbon-neutral. "We're being treated like wind or solar, geothermal and other renewables," said Bob Cleaves, president of the Biomass Power Association. "We are fundamentally different than fossil fuels."

Industry advocates insist that biomass adds no new carbon to the atmosphere. Instead, it simply harnesses timber harvest byproducts that, even if left on the forest floor, would release greenhouse gases as they decompose. So long as forests are sustainably managed, the advocates say, they will reabsorb the carbon equivalent released during biomass burning.

But for some, the provisions were a betrayal of long-running campaigns that battled biomass plants on environmental grounds.

"It's a myth that these large [biomass] plants can operate as carbon-neutral," said Mary Booth, founder of the Massachusetts Environmental Energy Alliance. "For big plants, per megawatt hour of energy generated, the [initial] carbon dioxide emissions for a wood-burning plant are 1.5 times those of a coal plant."

In a July letter dropped at Senate offices, the environmental coalition EcoLaw asked senators to include biomass plants among those entities that are required to buy emissions permits and for their initial carbon emissions to be counted the same as emissions from other sources.

The House bill encourages biomass but then ignores its consequences, the letter said. By 2020, biomass emissions will amount to 700 million tons of carbon dioxide, turning what on paper is mandated to be an 18 percent emissions reduction into an 11 percent reduction, the letter said.

"If we are to address the climate change crisis, we must ensure that greenhouse gas emissions from biomass burning and other combustion technologies classified as 'renewable energy resources' under the Renewable Energy Standards in ACES are actually counted," EcoLaw wrote.

Unless such changes are made, some environmentalists say they cannot support the bill.

Friends in key places

But in pulling their support, the hard-liners may not be bringing any Senate votes with them. EcoLaw's Margaret Sheehan, a lawyer who has worked to influence the bill, says few in the Senate seem ready to oppose the bill on the grounds that it is too "weak."

And if there are few senators who would be willing to pull their support of the climate bill on the grounds that it is too soft on biomass, support for the energy source may be a make-or-break issue for some key swing voters, such as Maine Republican Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins.

The Maine moderates may have significant leverage in crafting climate legislation, as they present the Democrats with a rare opportunity get votes from the other said of the aisle.

Both have a track record of supporting biomass. Collins and Snowe are both cosponsors of S. 870, which would expand the tax credits for renewable energy to include biomass, and Snowe is cosponsor of S. 1090, which would put renewable production tax credits for biomass on par with those for wind energy.

Biomass Power Association's Cleaves also said he could count on biomass backing from new Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), a moderate Democrat whose vote on climate legislation could be tough to get.

Lincoln is the principal sponsor of S. 870, but she opposes the House version of the climate bill because it "picks winners and losers," said spokeswoman Katie Laning Niebaum. Her support of any potential climate legislation in the Senate would depend on specific provisions within the bill, Niebaum said.

"In her role as Agriculture Committee chairwoman, she will make sure the voice of agriculture is heard in the debate," Niebaum said.

Biomass has West Coast support as well. Oregon Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley introduced legislation in March that would amend the Clean Air Act to broaden the definition to include timber harvest byproducts taken from most national forest lands.

Carbon-neutrality claims remain controversial

But while the political support for biomass appears solid, the science behind classifying it as carbon neutral remains a matter of ongoing debate.

In a San Francisco Chronicle op-ed yesterday, Gregory Morris -- who has an interdisciplinary doctorate in energy and resources and has done work for the Biomass Power Association -- backed biomass and blasted its critics.

Morris said that when biomaterial is burned instead of allowed to decompose naturally, it produces more carbon and less methane, contributing less to global warming than would the natural process. Because of this effect, within a few years of burning, biomass energy is not only carbon neutral, but carbon negative, Morris wrote.

"But that hasn't stopped fear-mongering aimed at denying biomass credit as a clean-energy source," Morris said. "Some are concerned that if forest residue is recognized as carbon-neutral, entire forests will be clear cut to rake in carbon-offset profit. You can make the math work, but it's just not going to happen."

Critics remain unsatisfied.

Bill Sammons, a Massachusetts medical doctor, and signatory to the Senate biomass letter, said the lag time between when carbon is emitted and when it is reabsorbed is problematic because it produces a spike in atmospheric carbon levels, the key driver of global warming.

He pointed out studies predicting the carbon released today will not be reabsorbed for decades or even centuries -- far too late to meet U.S. emissions reduction goals or to halt atmospheric carbon concentration at a level scientists say is necessary to mitigate the worst effects of warming.

Burning biomass will "accelerate the release of carbon into the air in the next 10, 20, 30 years, and that's the window that we need to pay attention to," Sammons said. "You could argue that it's carbon-neutral over the next hundred to a thousand years, but that's not relevant."

EcoLaw's Sheehan said she is deeply dismayed by the strong Senate backing for an energy source whose climate merits remain a matter of ongoing debate.

"That says to us that this bill is about politics and not about doing the right thing for the planet and not about reducing our carbon dioxide. It's about how many corporate giveaways does this bill have to contain so that we can say we passed a climate bill," Sheehan said. "If senators refuse to acknowledge that, is shows that the process is pretty corrupt."

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September 30, 2009


WE, The peasants who are global food producers, are here in Bangkok, Thailand to ensure that genuine and binding climate policies - that is responsive to our and the people's needs and rights be included in the ongoing talks against climate change.

Climate change is not only jeopardizing our future but is being used by multi-national and trans-national corporations (TNCs) who are the main contributors to global warming to rake in more profit from our miseries. It is a known fact that these climate culprits are the main reason why we are experiencing massive hunger and poverty is continuing with its plunder and environmental destruction in an unprecedented manner.

According to the Fourth Assessment Report of the UN-IPCC unprecedented concentration of global warming gasses is causing the decline of our harvest.

It is a known fact, that even without, vast tracks of agricultural lands around the world are being controlled and converted by plunderers into cash-crop plantations such as biofuels and other corporate schemes that alienates and forcibly driving us out from land.

Large tracts of forests have been lost in Brazil, Malaysia and Indonesia due to conversion of forests to oil-palm plantations for biofuels export. This drive for the export market makes countries like the Philippines to embark more biofuel plantations at the expense of food production and to the detriment of farmers and the environment. The destruction of the world's forests also lead to the conversion of agricultural plantations for export oriented crops, farms fo cattle raising and monoculture tree plantations.

It is alarming that these land grabbers and climate culprits are talking about climate change as another scheme to strengthen their hold over land resources. Also, upland farmers and indigenous peoples that depend on the forests are displaced. Further defeating any moves of the grass roots for food security and healthy environment.

Worse, the land is being degraded with the use of agrochemical products lik pesticides and fertilizer. These chemicals run on fossil fuels largely contributing to the GHG emissions and increasing the threats to our lives and livelihoods. The TNCs are robbing us of our lands, our health, our lives and the future of our generations.

We appeal to UN and other country representatives to make the ongoing UNFCCC intersessional meeting here in Bangkok becoming more responsive and should lead to an international agreement that will genuinely address climate change and environmental degradation in the region.

UN should not entertain false solutions that pushes business as usual scenario and rescind any agreements that promotes the control of large corporations on our lands and resources, the degradation of our environment and impede the genuine development of our nations. Biofuels, land use conversion, deforestation, use of agrochemicals and other anti-people and anti-environment practices that do not address the problems of climate change should be rejected.

We urge our country representatives inside the UNFCCC talks to unite with other vulnerable countries and its people in opposing carbon intensive globalization policies in the region.

Climate negotiation should always put first the needs and rights of poor people like the farmers in Southeast Asia and not the interest of northern rich countries and their big business. National governments of third world countries should learn from its experience in pursuing globalization policies like liberalizing and privatizing our land does not lead to economic development but widespread poverty and devastated environment.



PACC (Peoples Action on Climate Change)


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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

biofuelwatch-Biofuels industry group uneasy over renewable fuel rules

The Biotechnology Industry Organization appealed on Monday to the Unites States Environmental Protection Agency to ensure that biofuel technologies are not preemptively disqualified from the Renewable Fuel Standard program because of local and international land use.

Read more:


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biofuelwatch-Earth Policy News -- Could Food Shortages Bring Down Civilization?

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Earth Policy News" <>
Date: Sep 29, 2009 5:15 PM
Subject: Earth Policy News -- Could Food Shortages Bring Down Civilization?
To: <>

Earth Policy Institute

News Release
September 29, 2009

Plan B 4.0 Fact Sheet (PDF)

"In early 2008, Saudi Arabia announced that, after being self-sufficient in wheat for over 20 years, the non-replenishable aquifer it had been pumping for irrigation was largely depleted," writes Lester R. Brown in his new book, Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization (W.W. Norton & Company).

"In response, officials said they would reduce their wheat harvest by one eighth each year until production would cease entirely in 2016. The Saudis then plan to use their oil wealth to import virtually all the grain consumed by their Canada-sized population of nearly 30 million people," notes Brown, President and Founder of the Earth Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based independent environmental research organization.

"The Saudis are unique in being so wholly dependent on irrigation," says Brown in Plan B 4.0. But other, far larger, grain producers such as India and China are facing irrigation water losses and could face grain production declines.

A World Bank study of India's water balance notes that 15 percent of its grain harvest is produced by overpumping. In human terms, 175 million Indians are being fed with grain produced from wells that will be going dry. The comparable number for China is 130 million. Among the many other countries facing harvest reductions from groundwater depletion are Pakistan, Iran, and Yemen.

"The tripling of world wheat, rice, and corn prices between mid-2006 and mid-2008 signaled our growing vulnerability to food shortages," says Brown. "It took the worst economic meltdown since the Great Depression to lower grain prices."

"Past decades have witnessed world grain price surges, but they were event-driven—a drought in the former Soviet Union, a monsoon failure in India, or a crop-withering heat wave in the U.S. Corn Belt. This most recent price surge was trend-driven, the result of our failure to reverse the environmental trends that are undermining world food production."

These trends include—in addition to falling water tables—eroding soils and rising temperatures from increasing greenhouse gas emissions. Rising temperatures bring crop-shrinking heat waves, melting ice sheets, rising sea level, and shrinking mountain glaciers.

With both the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets melting at an accelerating pace, sea level could rise by up to six feet during this century. Brown notes, "Such a rise would inundate much of the Mekong Delta, which produces half of the rice in Viet Nam, the world's second-ranking rice exporter. Even a three-foot rise in sea level would cover half the riceland in Bangladesh, a country of 160 million people. And these are only two of Asia's many rice-growing river deltas."

"The world's mountain glaciers have shrunk for 18 consecutive years. Many smaller glaciers have disappeared. Nowhere is the melting more alarming than in the Himalayas and on the Tibetan plateau where the ice melt from glaciers sustains not only the dry-season flow of the Indus, Ganges, Yangtze, and Yellow rivers but also the irrigation systems that depend on them. Without these glaciers, many Asian rivers would cease to flow during the dry season."

The wheat and rice harvests of China and India would be directly affected. China is the world's leading wheat producer. India is second. (The United States is third.) With rice, China and India totally dominate the world harvest. The projected melting of these glaciers if we stay with business as usual poses the most massive threat to food security the world has ever faced.

The number of hungry people, which was declining for several decades, bottomed out in the mid-1990s at 825 million. It then climbed to 915 million in 2008 and jumped to over 1 billion in 2009. With world food prices projected to continue rising, so too will the number of hungry people, leaving millions of families trying to survive on one meal per day.

"We know from studying earlier civilizations such as the Sumerians, Mayans, and many others," says Brown, "that more often than not it was food shortages that led to their demise. It now appears that food may be the weak link in our early twenty-first century civilization as well.

"The world is entering a new food era, one marked by rising food prices, growing numbers of hungry people, and an emerging politics of food scarcity. As grain-exporting countries restrict or even ban exports to keep domestic food prices from spiraling out of control, importing countries are losing confidence in the market's ability to supply their needs. In response, the more affluent ones such as Saudi Arabia, China, and South Korea are leasing and buying large tracts of land in developing countries on which to grow food for themselves."

Among the countries in which large tracts of land are being acquired are Ethiopia and Sudan, both already heavily dependent on World Food Programme lifelines to stave off famine. In effect, the competition for land and water, in the form of land acquisitions, has crossed national boundaries, opening a new chapter in the history of food security.

Our early twenty-first century civilization is showing signs of stress as individual countries compete not only for scarce food but also for the land and water to produce it. People expect their governments to provide food security. Indeed, the inability to do so is one of the hallmarks of a failing state. Each year the list of failing states grows longer, leaving us with a disturbing question: How many failing states before our global civilization begins to unravel?

"Will we follow in the footsteps of the Sumerians and the Mayans or can we change course—and do it before time runs out?" asks Brown. "Can we move onto an economic path that is environmentally sustainable? We think we can. That is what Plan B 4.0 is about."

Plan B aims to stabilize climate, stabilize population, eradicate poverty, and restore the economy's natural support systems. It prescribes a worldwide cut in net carbon emissions of 80 percent by 2020, thus keeping atmospheric CO2 concentrations from exceeding 400 parts per million. "In setting this goal," says Brown, "my colleagues and I did not ask what would be politically popular but rather what would it take to have a decent shot at saving the Greenland ice sheet and at least the larger glaciers in the mountains of Asia."

Cutting carbon emissions will require both a worldwide revolution in energy efficiency and a shift from oil, coal, and gas to wind, solar, and geothermal energy. The energy efficiency revolution will transform everything from lighting to transportation. With lighting, for example, shifting from incandescents to compact fluorescent bulbs can reduce electricity use for lighting by 75 percent. But shifting from incandescents to the newer light-emitting diodes (LEDs) combined with light sensors can cut electricity use by more than 90 percent.

At least one of the new plug-in gas electric hybrids coming to market can get over 200 miles per gallon of gasoline. In the Plan B energy economy of 2020, most of the fleet will be plug-in hybrids and all-electric cars, and they will be running largely on wind-generated electricity for the gasoline equivalent of less than $1 per gallon.

The shift to renewable sources of energy is moving at a pace and on a scale we could not imagine even two years ago. Consider the state of Texas. The enormous number of wind projects under development, on top of the 9,000 megawatts of wind generating capacity in operation and under construction, will bring Texas to over 50,000 megawatts of wind generating capacity (think 50 coal-fired power plants) when all these wind farms are completed. This will more than satisfy the needs of the state's 24 million residents.

Nationwide, new wind generating capacity in 2008 totaled 8,400 megawatts while new coal plants totaled only 1,400 megawatts. The annual growth in solar generating capacity will also soon overtake that of coal. The energy transition is under way.

The United States has led the world in each of the last four years in new wind generating capacity, having overtaken Germany in 2005. But this lead will be short-lived as China appears set to blow by the United States in new wind capacity added in 2009.

China, with its Wind Base program, is working on six wind farm mega-complexes with generating capacities that range from 10,000 to 30,000 megawatts, for a total of 105,000 megawatts. This is in addition to the hundreds of smaller wind farms built or planned.

Wind is not the only option. In July 2009, a consortium of European corporations led by Munich Re, and including Deutsche Bank, Siemens, and ABB plus an Algerian firm, announced a proposal to tap the massive solar thermal generating capacity in North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean. A German firm calculates that solar thermal power plants in North Africa could economically supply half of Europe's electricity. Algeria, which has already completed its first solar thermal plant, has signed an agreement to supply Germany with solar-generated electricity. The Algerians note that they have enough harnessable solar energy in their desert to power the world economy. (No, this is not an error.)

"The soaring investment in wind, solar, and geothermal energy is being driven by the exciting realization that these renewables can last as long as the earth itself," says Brown. "In contrast to investing in new oil fields where well yields begin to decline in a matter of decades, or in coal mines where the seams run out, these new energy sources can last forever."

The combination of efficiency advances, the wholesale shift to renewable energy, and expansion of the earth's tree cover outlined in Plan B would allow the world to cut net global carbon emissions 80 percent by 2020. In contrast to today's global electricity sector, where coal supplies 40 percent of electricity, Plan B sees wind emerging as the centerpiece in the 2020 energy economy, supplying 40 percent of all electricity.

We are in a race between political tipping points and natural tipping points. Can we cut carbon emissions fast enough to save the Greenland ice sheet and avoid the resulting rise in sea level? Can we close coal-fired power plants fast enough to save at least the larger glaciers in the Himalayas and on the Tibetan Plateau? Can we stabilize population by lowering birth rates before nature takes over and halts population growth by raising death rates?

"Yes," affirms Brown. "But it will take something close to a wartime mobilization, one similar to that of the United States in 1942 as it restructured its industrial economy in a matter of months. We used to talk about saving the planet, but it is civilization itself that is now at risk.

"Saving civilization is not a spectator sport. Each of us must push for rapid change. And we must be armed with a plan outlining the changes needed.

"It is decision time," says Brown. "Like earlier civilizations that got into environmental trouble, we have to make a choice. We can stay with business as usual and watch our economy decline and our civilization unravel, or we can adopt Plan B and be the generation that mobilizes to save civilization. Our generation will make the decision, but it will affect life on earth for all generations to come."

- end -

Contact for additional information:

Lester R. Brown, Author & President
(202) 496.9290 x 11

Janet Larsen, Director of Research
(202) 496.9290 x 14

Media Contact: Reah Janise Kauffman
(202) 496.9290 x 12

Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization
Plan B 4.0
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Monday, September 28, 2009

biofuelwatch-Biofuels agreement announced between BioJet Corp and E85 LLC

Biofuels agreement announced between BioJet Corp and E85 LLC
Tue, 22 Sep 2009 18:23:03 -0700 PDT
by Aria Munro

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — BioJet Corporation (formerly JatrophaBioJet) and E85 LLC jointly announced today that they have executed a Bio-SPK forward contract for the sale by BioJet and the purchase by E85 of 4 million barrels of aviation bio jet fuel. "Bio-SPK" is now the proper aviation industry term for bio jet fuel and the fuel delivered under this contract will meet ASTM International specifications. Other than quantity, the terms of the contract were undisclosed.

BioJet CEO Mitch Hawkins said: "This contract is a milestone in the developing international process of providing bio jet fuel to the commercial aviation industry. To our knowledge, it is by far the largest sale of bio jet fuel to date and demonstrates the commercial viability of our value-chain integration model. It also represents a major step for our company in achieving our goal of providing 30 million barrels of bio jet fuel annually."

Hugh Canady, Chairman of E85 stated: "E85 is very pleased to participate as an early adopter and first-mover in the enablement of the worldwide aviation bio jet commodity chain. We especially appreciate the innovative price indexing which BioJet has worked out. It falls in line with our philosophy of transparency in pricing of all our oil transactions. Along with BioJet, we believe in the Principles of Sustainability and hope to become a significant player in world aviation's bio jet business." He went on to say that European Union mandates to reduce climate change have been announced which are now slated to affect approximately 4,000 aviation operators and provide bans at EU member airports for aviation operators, including military, which do not comply.

Both companies expect demand for aviation biofuels to exceed 280 million barrels annually. BioJet Corporation's objective is to be an international leader as supply chain integrator in bio jet fuel for aviation. This fuel is now properly referred to as Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene (Bio-SPK). Bio-SPK is being certified for commercial use by the American Society for Testing and Materials International (ASTMI) who estimates that certification will be complete by the end of 2010.

Hawkins also commented: "The primary issue in any biofuel is the feedstock. BioJet is fundamentally agnostic with regard to feedstocks and is committed to utilizing any and all sustainable and economically viable feedstock in the fulfillment of its mission. These include Jatropha, Camelina, Algae, and Designer sources. That said, we believe that today and for the next several years, Jatropha will be the credible, prime feedstock. Hence, we already control millions of barrels of jatropha feedstock."

BioJet, along with its partner South Pole Carbon Asset Management (Zurich) ( ), also utilizes its formidable carbon resources to provide the solution to the very large related carbon offset opportunity, believed to be in excess of 660 million metric tons of CO2 per year from worldwide aviation.

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

biofuelwatch-NGO World Growth tries to defend palm oil

Some interesting propaganda from 'World Growth'. The theme is Palm Oil = prosperity, so anti-palm oil campaigners are causing poverty...

September 28, 2009

For Immediate Release:
September 28, 2009

NGO Launches New Campaign, Sets Record Straight On Palm Oil

Green NGOs' misinformation campaign against palm oil reveals total indifference to developing world's economic, environmental country interests; such indifference at Copenhagen will make failure more likely

BANGKOK—Today at the United Nations climate change meeting in Bangkok, the NGO World Growth launched the "Palm Oil Green Development Campaign" -- a new initiative aimed at correcting the myths, misconceptions and falsehoods perpetuated by environmental NGOs against Palm Oil. Environmental groups like Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace are propagating myths and misconceptions about palm oil, demanding production and exports be restricted. Yet, for poor countries, expansion of this crop promises opportunities to reduce both poverty and greenhouse gas emissions.

World Growth Chairman Alan Oxley explains: "The Greens campaign against palm oil is very short-sighted. The anti-poor message it carries will be enough to tip the scales -- already ominously leaning the wrong way -- against success at Copenhagen.

"Environmental groups have made palm oil a poster child in a wider campaign to pressure developing countries to stop converting forest land to productive agro-industries. They are ignoring the requirement in the Bali mandate that climate change strategies should support, not undermine, economic development."

World Growth's "Palm Oil Green Development Campaign" will focus on setting the record straight and correcting the falsehoods and misconceptions propagated by Western Green NGOs. The program is based on five principles:

1. Alleviating Poverty through Wealth Creation: Palm oil provides developing nations and the poor a path out of poverty.

2. Sustainable Development: Sustainable development of palm oil in developing nations can and will be achieved through collaboration with industry, growers, and the wider community.

3. Climate and the Environment: Palm oil is a highly efficient, high yielding source of food and fuel, providing an efficient way of producing fossil fuel alternatives and capturing carbon from the atmosphere.

4. Opportunity and Prosperity: Developing nations must be allowed the chance to grow and develop without political intervention by environmental groups or developed nations.

5. Property Rights: Growing demand for palm oil world-wide give smaller land holders in developing countries greater opportunities to make a living off their land, maintain their ownership and support their rights to property and prosperity.

To speak with World Growth's experts, please contact Trice Whitefield at or +1-202-320-3965.

World Growth is a non-profit, non-governmental organization established with an educational and charitable mission to expand the education, information and other resources available to disadvantaged populations to improve their health and economic welfare. At World Growth, we embrace and celebrate the new age of globalization and the power of free trade to eradicate poverty and improve living conditions for people in the developing world. For more information on World Growth, visit


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Saturday, September 26, 2009 Jatropha genomics PR

Friday, September 25, 2009 11:00 PST
SG Biofuels: Amasses World's Largest Jatropha Library, Aims For $1/Gallon Oil
By Justin Moresco

In the rush to grow energy crops for producing alternative fuels, jatropha has often been heralded as the most promising because it can be grown on marginal land. But so far jatropha hasn't lived up to the hype — requiring too much water and producing too little yield — prompting some early investors, like oil giant BP, to give up on the crop. But a young Encinitas, Calif.-based startup, SG Biofuels, says the problem with these early efforts was that they put the cart before the horse.

The firm has spent the last three and a half years amassing what it says is the largest and most diverse library of jatropha genetic material in the world. The team scoured India, Southeast Asia, and most importantly Central America, the native home of the shrub, to build the firm's library. "This is the foundation for any effective crop improvement program, and we were shocked that no one had done that," SG Biofuels CEO Kirk Haney told us. "That is step one, but many jumped to step five by putting [jatropha] in the ground and crossing their fingers."

SG Biofuels scientists are applying breeding techniques and genetic engineering to this pool of jatropha material to produce superior strains that could be harvested for oil. That oil could then be processed into a variety of bio-based products, including biodiesel and feedstock substitutes for the petrochemical and jet fuel industries.

Besides the library, Haney said the firm's other advantage over competing biofuel companies is that it's focused on doing a few things well and not spreading itself out too far along the value chain. Despite its name, SG Biofuels has no intention in the near term to extract oil or process it into products itself; that would be done by growers and energy outfits. Instead, the startup aims to develop superior strains and then provide services to plantations for growing their seeds.

SG Biofuels has already had some success. It's identified strains that can grow in higher elevations and colder climates than initially thought possible. The company says its jatropha crop could already produce oil at $1.50 per gallon (before refining), if at commercial scale, and Haney predicts that the cost will drop to less than $1 per gallon within the next two years with the release its first commercial product. At that price, SG Biofuels' jatropha would yield oil that is
cost-competitive with petroleum while still offering growers a healthy margin, Haney says.

But biodiesel, while only part of the startup's target market, has been more bust than boom as of late, regardless of the feedstock. And SG Biofuels isn't alone in its attempts to genetically improve jatropha. La Jolla, Calif.-based Synthetic Genomics is partnering with Malaysia's Asiatic Centre for Genome Technology to modify existing varieties of the shrub and increase yield, oil quality and disease tolerance. The partnership announced in May said that it was the first to complete the sequence of the jatropha genome. And BP's former partner, London-based D1 Oils, is still in the business of improving and growing jatropha.SG Biofuels has so far been financed by founders and friends, raising funds "in the millions" of dollars but less than $10 million, Haney says. The company hopes to raise its first institutional round in the first quarter of next year.


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biofuelwatch-Storing CO2 in soil should be on U.N. agenda: Gore

Storing CO2 in soil should be on U.N. agenda: Gore
Tue Sep 22, 2009 6:03pm EDT

By Timothy Gardner

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Developing emissions markets to encourage farmers in poor countries to store more carbon dioxide in soil should be a key topic on the U.N. climate talks agenda, global warming activist Al Gore said.

"I think that soil carbon conservation and recarbonizing of soil must be the next stage in this negotiating process," former U.S. Vice President Gore told reporters on the sidelines of a climate conference at the United Nations.

Agriculturists can store more carbon in soil through techniques such as no-till farming that leaves crop residue on the ground instead of plowing it up and releasing the carbon into the atmosphere, or through crop rotations.

Gore said that if a clear signal on carbon storage in soil emerged from the 190-nation U.N. climate talks in Copenhagen in December, it would serve as a "very important measure" to help get developing nations to participate in helping to slow climate change.

Rich and poor countries aim to hammer out a new global deal at the Copenhagen meeting on how to slow global warming and deal with its consequences, but talks have stalled on how to share the burden.

In sub-Saharan Africa, soil carbon has been so depleted that it harms food production and is expected to worsen as a consequence of global warming, Gore said.

Soils can hold carbon for thousands of years when dead leaves, crop residue and other vegetation combine chemically with existing soil particles instead of rotting fully. More carbon is held in this way than in trees and other vegetation.

But agricultural techniques such as heavy plowing, the use of too much fertilizer, and the discarding of the practice of rotating crops have led to the depletion of soils and the carbon in them in many countries.

Gore said polluters and investors in rich countries could potentially help invest in projects promoting new and improved agricultural methods that retain carbon, such as no-till farming, in developing countries through carbon credits.

Similar offsets resulting from storing carbon in forests and soils are already available in voluntary carbon markets, including ones for domestic projects on the Chicago Climate Exchange.

Opponents of such programs say the science is still young on measuring how much carbon is stored in this way. As a result, the price for soil sequestration offsets has traditionally trailed the price of other offsets projects such as solar energy farms.

Others say measurements are improving and that the offsets are a huge potential market that could reward farmers and make the soil yield more and better food.

Gore said improving the soil in many poor countries through such offsets could help fight against hunger and malnutrition.

(Editing by Philip Barbara)

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Friday, September 25, 2009

biofuelwatch-Trees: Out of the Forest and Into the Oven

by Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Sep 24 (Tierramérica) - Millions of trees, especially from the developing countries of the South, are being shipped to Europe and burned in giant furnaces to meet "green energy" requirements that are supposed to combat climate change.

In the last two months alone, energy companies in Britain have announced the construction of at least six new biomass power generation plants to produce 1,200 megawatts of energy, primarily from burning woodchips.

At least another 1,200 megawatts of wood-fired energy plants, including the world's largest, in Port Talbot, Wales, are already under construction.

Article continues at

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biofuelwatch-Africa's burning charcoal problem

Africa's burning charcoal problem

A pile of chopped wood

By Anthea Rowan
Focus on Africa Magazine, Tanzania

At a road block in western Tanzania, miles from anywhere, a uniformed official raises a flagged barrier. Nearby is a spill of black, like an oil slick.

This is one of several checkpoints which have been set up around the country in a half-hearted attempt to curtail the largely unregulated trade of charcoal, widely used across the continent as a fuel for cooking.

The guard on duty has confiscated six sacks. They lean against one another and bleed black dust into the sand.

Once, Africa boasted seven million square kilometres of forest but a third of that has been lost
Lee White
Climate change expert

Over the next 50 miles there are dozens of sacks propped up under trees. These will be loaded up by truck drivers who pay around $4 a bag to sell for up to six times the price in the city.

The guard at the roadblock has clearly opened his hand for "kitu kidogo" - a pay-off from coal traders in search of a quick buck.

The numbers tell the story - according to the Tanzania Association of Oil Marketing Companies, 20,000 bags of charcoal enter the capital Dar es Salaam every 24 hours.

Millions at risk
But the impact of this unregulated coal trade is chilling.

Aid agency Christian Aid estimates that 182 million people in Africa are at risk of dying as a consequence of climate change by the end of the century.

Meanwhile, Oxfam believes climate change is frustrating the efforts of millions on the continent to escape poverty.

Masai tribesman herds his cattle
Drought is forcing Kenya's Masai herders to travel further for grazing
Nobel laureate Professor Wangari Maathai offers a solution.
Why is climate change such a harbinger of doom? Andrew Simms from the New Economics Foundation explains: "Global warming means that many dry areas are going to get drier and wet areas are going to get wetter."

This imbalance will make subsistence farming, upon which millions of Africans depend, even more precarious. It will also exacerbate famine and disease.

"One adaptation option for Africa is to keep her forests standing so that they provide essential environmental services such as carbon sinks," she said.

It is estimated that carbon is accumulating in the atmosphere at an annual rate of 3.5 billion metric tonnes. One hectare of trees can offset up to 200 tonnes of carbon a year.

A 40-year-study by the University of Leeds of African forests - which account for a third of the world's total tropical forest - demonstrates that Africa is, indeed, a significant carbon sink.

Lee White, a climate change expert, concurs: "To get an idea of the value of the sink, the removal of nearly 5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by intact tropical forests should be valued at around $25 billion a year. This is a compelling argument for conserving tropical forests."

But Africa has not been very good at this.

According to the UN the continent is losing forest twice as fast as the rest of the world.

"Once upon a time, Africa boasted seven million square kilometres of forest but a third of that has been lost - most of it to charcoal."

Lucrative business
The reality, however, is that in sub-Saharan Africa only 7.5% of the rural population has access to electricity.

Wood and its by-product charcoal are, unless radical steps are taken, likely to remain the primary energy source for decades.

Only 4% of electricity generated worldwide is produced in Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa has the world's lowest electrification rate at 25.9%
Rural electrification rates in sub-Saharan Africa are only 8%
70% of household income in Africa is spent on energy (diesel, kerosene, charcoal)
80% of Africans rely on biomass for energy (wood or charcoal fuel)
4 million hectares of forest are felled each year in Africa, twice the world average
Source: The World Future Council
Additionally, charcoal is a lucrative business - not only for those collecting wood to burn.

In the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, over 70 tonnes of charcoal dust is discarded daily. Some 10% of that waste is absorbed by a company called Chardust, which salvages it from charcoal traders across the city and processes it with binders as a charcoal alternative.

The company manufactures 250 tonnes of saleable product a month.

Some though are trying to look beyond the finite resource. To the west of Nairobi, Cheryl Mvula of the Tribal Voice consultancy has introduced the extraordinary Cow Dung Fuel Initiative to counter deforestation in the Mara Triangle of Kenya's Masai Mara.

Here dung is mixed with waste paper and water, fashioned into briquettes and sundried for use.

Since the project's inception in March 2009, firewood collection has reduced by 75% in the five villages where the scheme has been piloted.

Organic alternative
Back in Tanzania, where the charcoal market remains largely backstreet, the industry is valued at upwards of $150 million a year.

This figure encouraged Briton Nicholas Harrison to get involved. His company, the East Africa Briquette Company, is the only producer of an organic alternative in a region where 90% of people use charcoal.

The company's product, Mkaa Bora, is prepared from waste and post-harvest products - sawdust, charcoal dust, maize cobs and even banana skins.

Effectively, local "recipes" are designed according to a given area's crop predominance.

The waste burns more slowly and is 30% hotter than traditional charcoal.

The production is also much leaner than traditional charcoal-making, where just 40% of the wood felled is converted into a useable fuel.

But how to balance job creation with the need to protect the environment?
In Uganda, for example, which has lost half of its forest cover in the past 30 years, charcoal production yields 20,000 jobs and generates more than $20 million in income every year. In Kenya it is 10 times that figure.

Clearly any future charcoal alternative has to fill the gap.

Whether any African governments are keen to break away from the convenient job-creator - particularly during a challenging economic climate - to invest in alternatives will be a true test of their commitment to the environment.
Page last updated at 00:02 GMT, Friday, 25 September 2009 01:02 UK

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

biofuelwatch-Breaking the chains? IFC backs out of palm oil

Breaking the chains? IFC backs out of palm oil

News|Hadiru Mahdi|22 September 2009|update 67|url

By Hadiru Mahdi, Bretton Woods Project

Violations of the IFC's performance standards in a palm oil project in Indonesia could have far reaching effects, drawing attention to the responsibility for the impact of whole supply chains, as a review of their social and environmental standards gets under way.

In August, the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO), an internal watchdog, published a report exposing that the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank, favoured commercial interests over environmental and human rights concerns in palm oil extraction in Indonesia.

The charges levied against the IFC stem from complaints filed by Indonesian NGOs related to loans made between 2003 and 2008 for palm oil processing facilities and trading companies operated by the Wilmar Group. The case focused on the IFC's failure to apply its performance standards and procedures, as well as allegations that Wilmar subsidiaries were illegally using fire to clear primary forests and high conservation value areas and seizing indigenous peoples' lands without their consent.

The CAO found that despite being "aware for more than 20 years that there were significant environmental and social issues and risks inherent in the oil palm sector in Indonesia [the] IFC did not develop a strategy for engaging in the oil palm sector. In absence of a tailored strategy, deal making prevailed."

The relevant IFC social and environmental performance standard states that "the impacts associated with supply chains will be considered ... where the resource utilised by the project is ecologically sensitive." Oil palm is listed as ecologically sensitive.

In the Wilmar case, the IFC is accused of taking a "de minimis approach so as to exclude assessment of the supply chains", arguing that the project was only a trade facility and not a plantation. Two of the four loans were made to a Wilmar subsidiary for the development of a crude oil palm refinery in the Ukraine. The other two loans were for Wilmar's Indonesian trading subsidiary to provide capital for the purchase and export of palm oil. The projects' social and environmental risk was downgraded from A to B, meaning that management decided that an assessment of the plant's supply chain was not needed.

The CAO report makes it clear that the assessment should not have been based on the incorrect assumption that only Wilmar-owned parts of the supply chain should be examined, as this is "inconsistent with the IFC's performance standards, which require a broader assessment of suppliers and supply chains."

Marcus Colchester of NGO Forest Peoples Programme commented, "it has taken us more than five years to get the IFC to take these issues seriously. Given the urgency of halting forest loss and human rights abuses, we call on the World Bank president to take personal proactive steps to ensure this never happens again."

IFC taps out

Initially, it seemed that the IFC was determined to resist cutting back on investment in palm oil, arguing in August that "the sector has considerable potential for job creation and economic growth". In response to the CAO, the IFC did acknowledge that it lacked a strategy for engagement in the palm oil sector which it promised to develop by October. It also agreed that in the future palm oil should be categorised as being higher risk.

Then, in a surprise statement released in September, World Bank president Robert Zoellick backed down, saying "until we have a new strategy in place, the IFC will not approve any new investments in palm oil."

Further to the initial weak management response, the IFC has agreed to formulate a comprehensive strategy to guide its involvement in the palm oil sector by February 2010. They will develop an advisory services programme for the palm oil sector in Indonesia and revise the IFC's environmental and social review procedure to clarify categorisation of trade finance investments. They also plan to strengthen implementation of the existing prohibition against clearing critical habitat or high conservation value forest and assess the status of Wilmar's environmental and social performance.

Norman Jiwan of the Indonesian NGO Sawitt Watch welcomed the IFC's intentions but is reserving optimism. He hopes that the process will be "open and participatory and lead to the IFC applying performance standards more stringently to the whole supply chain."

The Wilmar saga has come to a head just as the IFC officially launches its three year review of performance standards on social and environmental sustainability (see Update 67). The question that remains is whether the review will tackle the major weaknesses this case has shown exist with the performance standards framework.

Illustration by Robin Heighway-Bury/

Robin Heighway-Bury/

This text may be freely used providing the source is credited.

This page is: <>

Published: Tuesday 22nd September 2009

Dr Sarah Wykes
+44 7971064433

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

biofuelwatch-WWF / Novozymes report on biofuel emissions

World Wildlife Fund says industrial biotech can produce massive reduction in global CO2; says biofuels could reduce CO2 by 1 billion tons

The World Wildlife Fund says that up to 2.5 billion tons of CO2 can be eliminated with industrial biotech; more than 1 billion from biofuels alone

The World Wildlife Fund has released a report, based on peer-reviewed research provided by Novozymes as well as other scientists and the WWF staff, projecting that the increased use of industrial biotechnology could reduce carbon dioxide emissions between 1.0 and 2.5 billion tons per year by 2030.

This is the equivalent of 8 percent of total world CO2 emission in 2006, according to the United Nations, or 60 percent of the total emissions of the European Union.

WWF called for increased political backing for the industry to leverage positive environmental effects from the technology used today to produce detergents, textiles, bread, wine, beer, and bioethanol. However, the report cautions that strong public policies must be in place to help realize the potential of industrial biotech and points out initiatives such as pollution costs charged to petrol-based materials, investment in advanced waste management technologies, and labeling systems for bio-based products.

“In a few years sugar will be the new oil,” said Steen Riisgaard, CEO of Novozymes. “Already today close to 200 biorefineries are operating in the US and yet we have only seen the beginning. Industrial biotechnology today is a sector with a number of pioneers who are demonstrating that this is technically feasible. However, to make the biobased economy into reality, they will require political backing. Novozymes is dedicated to helping ensure a radical shift in the way our societies work, and to reduce our dependency on oil.”

“WWF sees industrial biotech as an industry that can play a very significant role in the development of a new, green economy if developed in the right way. The world can’t afford to ignore this opportunity,” says John Kornerup Bang, Head of Globalization Programme for WWF.

The WWF report outlines four areas for focus: 204 million tons from increased efficiency in industrial processes and providing significant reductions in the use of energy and raw materials across industries; 1,024 million tons by replacing fossil fuels with biofuels in the transportation sector; 668 million tons with a new infrastructure that replaces fossil materials with biomass in the creation of products from plastics to diapers; and 633 million tons from reusing waste material for the production of energy and materials.

The report comes as a Reuters report on Novozymes suggests that the company is focusing on leading carbon polluter China for growth that will revive the company’s strong annual growth rates after a slowdown in the 2008-09 recession.

Executive vice-chairman Thomas Nagy told Reuters that “biofuel holds a lot of promise for us in China, particularly second-generation biofuels. If something like 10 percent of the Chinese fuel market could become renewable, then we hope to take a good share of that. We have not been resistant to crisis. Our customers have slowed down and everybody has been destocking. We have not changed the direction of the company, the ambition of the company or our basic strategy, but we have realised it is a little harder than we expected eight to ten months ago.”

The 24-page policy paper: Industrial biotechnology – more than green fuel in a dirty economy? can be downloaded here.

The detailed technical report GHG Emission Reductions With Industrial Biotechnology: Assessing the Opportunities, which provides the analysis and background for the conclusions, is downloadable here.

Report here:

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biofuelwatch-ILUC / EPA / UCS letter

Count Biofuel Emissions, Scientists and Economists Say

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

More than 200 scientists and economists issued a letter today calling on Congress and federal agencies to account for emissions from indirect land use change in biofuel laws and regulations.

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), which organized the letter, is running advertisements in Congress Daily this Wednesday and Thursday to publicize the letter.

Including "indirect land use change…in the lifecycle analyses of heat-trapping emissions from biofuels…," the letter states, "will encourage development of sustainable, low-carbon fuels that avoid conflict with food and minimize harmful environmental impacts."

When U.S. food crops are used to make biofuels, the market price of the crops increase. That price signal leads farmers in other countries to clear land to produce replacement crops. A portion of those farmers clear tropical forests for farm land, or till previously untouched land, resulting in the release of heat-trapping emissions into the atmosphere.

The letter's release coincides with the end of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) public comment period for the Renewable Fuels Standard, which would significantly increase biofuel production. EPA is required to consider these emissions under current law.

The ethanol industry is promoting policies that would prevent the EPA from even considering the science underpinning indirect land use change. To do that would ignore the scientific evidence, according to the scientists and economists on the letter. "Grappling with the technical uncertainty and developing a regulation based on the best available science is preferable to ignoring a major source of emissions," they write.

A copy of the letter, the ads and more information about indirect land use change can be found on UCS's Smart Bioenergy page.

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biofuelwatch-UK-Philippine ethanol deal

bioenergy firm pledges P6-billion investments in RP

Monday, September 21, 2009

Recognizing the Philippines’ viability for renewable energy sources, British bioenergy developer Bronzeoak has committed to peg additional P6 billion in investments here in the country, following a business meeting with President Arroyo in London, United Kingdom.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said Bronzeoak has committed to put in additional P6-billion worth of investments here, including the establishment of its second bioethanol plant.

The bioethanol plant, with sugar as its raw material, will be established in Capas, Tarlac, said Remonde.

The expansion (plan) of Bronzeoak in the Philippines to create another bioethanol plant in Tarlac has reinforced its leadership in bioethanol and renewable energy (development),” Remonde said.

Bronzeoak is also responsible for the bioenergy project in San Carlos, Negros Occidental, which is the first bioethanol project here by a British firm using “cutting- edge” technology.

Bronzeoak started its international operations, particularly in Southeast Asia in 1995 and has started the development of its bioethanol project here in the country in 2004.

Its bioethanol project in San Carlos, Negros Occidental, now operational, is the first stand-alone full-grade bioethanol distillery fed by sugarcane juice in Southeast Asia.

The British government had since been interested in investing in renewable energy and other alternative energy sources here in the Philippines due to its aggressive stance to combat climate change.

Meanwhile, British mining companies have expressed further interest in doing business in the Philippines, following a business meeting with President Arroyo in London.

Remonde said multinational mining company Rio Tinto has expressed its interest to conduct mining projects here as it recognized the Philippines’ potential in mining.

“The head of exploration of Rio Tinto has conveyed interest to mine copper, gold and nickel in the Philippines,” Remonde said in Saturday's press briefing simulcast over government-run Radyo ng Bayan.

Remonde said it is a welcome development as Rio Tinto used to have mining explorations here in 1995 but had to stop its operation due to the conflict in Mindanao.

“But now after the visit of the President, they want to (invest),” he said.

Rio Tinto’s mining projects include the extraction of aluminum, copper, diamond, individual minerals and iron ore.

Likewise, Remonde said the President met with officials of UK’s Metals Exploration PLC.

Metals Exploration PLC led by its director, Jonathan Beardsworth, has already invested P175 million in the country, said Remonde. The P175-million bond posted by the mining firm is for the expansion of its 200-hectare Runruno gold – molybdenum project in Nueva Vizcaya.

Its other projects here in the country include Masapalid and Puray projects, reports said.

Local scientists earlier disclosed the potential of extracting minerals and mineral products from the country’s near-coast and off-shore resources aside from mountainous resources. Aggregate resources like sand and gravel may also be found in offshore areas of the country, they said.

Most of the potential mining areas and deposits are in Luzon, followed by Mindanao and the Visayas, sources said.

In 2007, gross production value from the mining sector reached P97.4 billion or an estimated US$2.1 billion. Mining’s contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) reached P81.5-billion while total exports of mineral and mineral products were placed at $2.55 billion, officials said.


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biofuelwatch-Philippines algae project - up to 100,000ha

Red algae biofuel project takes off

Click on the flag for more information about PhilippinesPHILIPPINES
Friday, September 18, 2009,
02:20 (GMT + 9)

Korean scientist Gyungsoo Kim, responsible for perfecting the extraction of bio-ethanol from red algae, and three research fellows are now running initial tests on the potential suitability of the waters at Bohol to grow the algae.

Kim, CEO at Biolsystems Co Ltd in Seoul, signed a a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Bohol Governor Erico Aumentado in July regarding the bio-ethanol project, The Bohol Standard reports.

The MoU states that 3 ha of land will go to aquaculture testing, 500 ha to seedling plantation and at least 25,000-100,000 ha to aquaculture property -- all of these over 50 years with the option to extend the same by another 25 years. The agreement was drafted by First Secretary of the Korean Embassy Young Joon Kim and Provincial Legal Officer Handel Lagunay.

As well, 60 ha will be made available for employee housing and the plant. This area will come from the consolidated 100 ha that is now completing requirements for its declaration as a special economic zone (SEZ), Aumentado said.

Over 300 jobs will be created for ethanol extraction in the area once Kim's Biolsystems builds the USD 100 million-facility. It will be guarded by province, military and police officials, per the MoU.

The facility will be used also to conduct research and development on more efficient cultivation methods, in particular for the algae species that provide a higher yield, and to carry out farming and marketing strategies. It will run in an environmentally responsible fashion so as to leave the area's ecotourism appeal intact.

Kim said he will train locals in deep-sea red algae Eucheuma cottonii farming and drying to speed up the process.

By Natalia Real


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biofuelwatch-Conservation Internaitonal and Medco wood pellet plans in West Papua

CI, Medco to help Papua develop pellet plantation

Adianto P. Simamora , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Tue, 08/11/2009 10:21 PM | National

Conservation International (CI) and the Medco foundation joined in a partnership to develop spatial planning scenarios for wood pellet plantations in southern Papua.

The wood pellet is known as carbon neutral commodity and renewable energy source. It is a growing market as the world looks for environmentally friendly energy options.

"The overall approach uses landscape scale mapping of biodiversity and socio-economic values developed by CI in the Mamberamo region, and the Medco Group will be the first organization in Indonesia to develop its business using this approach that aims to maximize scientific and community priorities," Jatna Supriatna, Regional Vice President of CI-Indonesia said in a statement on Tuesday.

"By working with CI, the Medco Group is benefiting from over 10 years of scientific research and conservation implementation in Papua," he said.

He said that the cooperation would serve as an example of a sustainable approach to business which other companies will follow.

(This appears to be the second published scheme for monoculture tree plantations specifically for wood pellets, after South Korean plans in Kalimantan, see - Almuth)


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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

biofuelwatch-Win Some, Lose Some for Beleaguered Penan Tribe

RIGHTS-MALAYSIA: Win Some, Lose Some for Beleaguered Penan Tribe

By Baradan Kuppusamy

KUALA LUMPUR, Sep 21 (IPS) - In wealthy Malaysia that employs over four million Asians to service its high- rolling lifestyle, a tiny indigenous tribe is fighting for its survival against state inaction and bureaucratic apathy, as well as marauding giant multinationals and timber loggers.

It is an increasingly losing battle for the Penan, a tribe of about 12,000 semi- nomadic people fighting against destruction of their home in the jungles of Sarawak state in East Malaysia, home to the world's oldest rain forest and a complex ecosystem.

The state's wildlife and unique tropical ecosystem are equally under threat from loggers who swing into the forest felling the best trees, leaving giant oil palm plantations while clearing the logged forest to grow more palm oil.

In recent months about 3,000 Penan in the Bakun area in upper Rejang River – the second longest river in the country – faced severe food shortage for various reasons, including drought sparked by deforestation. Food supplies had to be airlifted after church groups raised the alarm.

Exacerbating their already harsh living condition is that Penan women and children are being raped by loggers and their workers, according to a long- delayed government report that concluded in mid-September what human rights activists and non-governmental organisations had been saying for at least a decade.

But despite evidence of sexual assaults, Malaysian police are dragging their feet in investigating the cases and bringing the culprits to justice.

"They don't take the Penan people seriously; they give all kinds of excuses (for their inaction)," Ragunath Kesavan, leading rights lawyer and president of the Malaysian Bar Council, an association of legal practitioners, told IPS. "(The) Penan might be semi-nomadic and live differently. Nevertheless they are (still) citizens and have the same rights to protection under the laws as other citizens."

The beleaguered tribals are fighting back in the way they know best — with spears and blowpipes with which they arm themselves when staging their blockades, and the media. Assisted by a network of supporters here and abroad, they are using the press to shame the government for their alleged inaction and force concession.

The rate of deforestation in Malaysia is estimated to be the fastest in any tropical country in the world, according to United Nations data. The Food and Agriculture Organisation, a U.N. agency, shows the annual deforestation rate jumped almost 86 percent between the periods 1990-2000 and 2000-2005.

Annually, Malaysia has lost an average of 140,200 hectares or 0.65 percent of its forest area since 2000.

Oil palm plantation acreage and world palm oil output increased dramatically as the forest vanished during the same period. The prized commodity is now the world's most important edible oil in global production and consumption.

Between 2006 and 2007, it held approximately 32 percent of the market share of all edible oils by production in comparison to soybean oil, which comprised about 29 percent of the world market for oils.

Malaysia and Indonesia produce the majority of the world's palm oil, accounting for approximately 86 percent of the total global production.

Malaysia has a policy framework for sustainable forest management based on its National Forestry Act of 1984. Yet on the ground, rampant logging is the norm, sources said.

Though faced with an uphill battle on several fronts, the Penan are chalking up some victories. They are successfully blocking logging roads with barricades, raising hues and cries in the Malaysian media while bringing their woes to the Malaysian parliament.

Opposition lawmakers are now actively taking up their cause and speaking up for their rights – a far cry from the 1980s when blockades installed by the tribe were broken up and protest put down with brute force.

Then, too, there is considerable sympathy for the Penan among the local population. An awakened electorate concedes the Penan have the right to preserve their habitat and traditional lifestyle.

Amid these developments is the state's glaring inaction on the plight of its indigenous population, advocates say, who noted that it had only paid lip service to the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that it voted to adopt in 2007.

"This inaction to protect and promote and recognise their indigenous people is alarming," said human rights lawyer Ragunath Kesavan. "The sexual abuse faced by the Penan is but one of a multitude of human rights violations that indigenous communities face. Their traditions, customs and values are being eroded and their needs have been long neglected."

He added that it is time "the government formally recognizes, protects and guarantees the right of indigenous peoples to their ancestral lands and to gazette such ancestral lands as reserved areas."

Pressured from every side to aid the Penan tribe and stop the destruction of their habitat, the authorities — in an unprecedented move — reached out to the tribal group to iron out a peace deal.

According to the mass-circulated `Star' daily around the third week of September, the Sarawak government, prodded by the federal government in Kuala Lumpur, had agreed to several Penan demands as preconditions for ending the anti-logging blockades, which had significantly hurt the profits of the timber companies. The concessions include state recognition of the Penan as the original settlers of the island of Borneo, right to ancestral land and farmland for the semi- nomadic tribe. Other concessions include the provision of basic infrastructure, including housing complete with electricity and water, clinics, kindergartens and primary schools; official aid for rubber tree planting and fruit farming; and skills training.

Local officials claimed the Penan have acceded to these compromised solutions. Promising "positive results within three months," they said that with the "peace deal," the Penan have agreed to allow logging to resume, the `Star' daily quoted them as saying.

The deal, however, was rejected by some Penan and questioned by rights NGO, saying the concessions were only on paper, adding that allowing logging to resume is inimical to the Penan's interests in the long run.

They warned that the anti-logging protest and blockades would resume if the promises were not kept.


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biofuelwatch-Such drastic climate therapy could make things worse

Such drastic climate therapy could make things worse

The idea of serious scientists and engineers gathering to discuss schemes for controlling the world's climate would a mere 10 years ago have seemed bizarre, or something from science fiction. But now, well into the 21st century, we are slowly and reluctantly starting to realise that global heating is real. We may have cool, wet summers in the UK, but we are fortunate compared with the Inuit, who see their habitat melting, and Australians and Africans who suffer intensifying heat and drought. We should not be surprised that public policy is edging ever nearer to geoengineering, the therapy our scientists are considering for a fevered planet.

Our senior scientific society, the Royal Society, met at the start of the month to launch the report Geoengineering the Climate and to hear from its representative scientists. The meeting was hosted by the president, Lord Rees, and the chairman was Professor John Shepherd, who chaired the study group. The goal, as Prof Shepherd explained in the Guardian in April, was to investigate theories of "intervening directly to engineer the climate system, so as to moderate the rise of temperature" and to "separate the real science from the science fiction".

Geoengineering is about deliberately changing the air, oceans or land surface of the world to offset global heating with the hope of restoring the cooler world we enjoyed in the last century. We are now fairly sure that the Earth has grown hotter by about one degree Celsius as a consequence of our own action in taking away as farmland the forests and other ecosystems that previously acted to keep the Earth cool. We also have increased by 6% the flow of CO2 into the air by burning coal, oil and natural gas. If we started global heating, can we reverse it by engineering?

The first scientist to consider geoengineering seriously was the Russian geophysicist Mikhail Budyko. In the 1970s he proposed that we could offset global heating by spreading in the stratosphere a fine dispersion of particles that reflected sunlight back to space; he based the idea on the observation that volcanic eruptions that did this were followed by global-scale cooling. He suggested that we could mimic the effects of a volcanic eruption by putting an aerosol into the stratosphere. His idea was confirmed by the detailed observations and analysis of the effect of Mount Pinatubo's eruption in 1991. It injected 20m tonnes of sulphur dioxide into the stratosphere and this soon oxidised to form the white reflecting particles that offset global heating for three years. It is within our capacity to put this much sulphur dioxide into the stratosphere.

There are other ways of reflecting sunlight: large mirrors or diffusers of sunlight put in orbit around the sun. One of the more promising and controllable reflection methods was put forward by John Latham and Stephen Salter, who proposed spraying very fine droplets of sea water from the ocean surface to make the natural surface clouds, called marine stratus, whiter.

As well as cooling by reflecting sunlight away we could cool by removing the carbon dioxide or methane from the air. Klaus Lackner has proposed making artificial trees to do this; others, following the lead of Johannes Lehmann, would sooner see vegetation capture CO2 and then, after harvest, turn the plant waste into charcoal and bury it.

Geoengineering implies that we have an ailing planet that needs a cure. But our ignorance of the Earth system is great; we know little more than an early 19th-century physician knew about the body. Geoengineering is like trying to cure pneumonia by immersing the patient in a bath of icy water; the fever would be cured but not the disease.

Many of us feel a sense of unease about using geoengineering to escape global heating. Most of the planetary therapies have side effects, potentially as severe as the disease itself. We know that the cooling by Pinatubo was accompanied by droughts; cooling alone does nothing to prevent the ocean growing ever more acid as the carbon dioxide dissolves in the water.

Before long, global heating could reach a level that makes geoengineering an enticing option. Indeed, cautiously applied it may help by buying us time either to adapt to climate change or to develop a practical scientific cure. We have, as yet, no comprehensive Earth system science; in such ignorance I cannot help feeling that attempts by us to regulate the Earth's climate and chemistry would condemn humanity to a Kafkaesque fate from which there may be no escape. Better, perhaps, to learn from the wiser physicians of the early 19th century; they knew no cure for common diseases but also knew that by letting nature take its course, the patient often recovered. Perhaps we, too, had better use our energies to adapt and leave recovery to Gaia; after all, she has survived more than three billion years and has kept life going all that time.

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