Monday, November 30, 2009

New report launched: Soy and Agribusiness Expansion in Northwest Argentina



New report launched: Soy and Agribusiness Expansion in Northwest Argentina - Legalized deforestation and community resistance

A new report has been launched titled "Soy and Agribusiness Expansion in Northwest Argentina - Legalized deforestation and community resistance. The cases of the Wichí communities of the Itiyuro River Basin and Misión Chaqueña, the Creole families of the Dorado River Basin and the Guaraní communities of El Talar". The report is published by CAPOMA (Argentina), La Soja Mata and Chaya Comunicación (Argentina), with the support of: BASE Investigaciones Sociales (Paraguay)

This report provides important insights into the process of soy and agribusiness expansion, deforestation and eviction of indigenous and rural communities in a forgotten region: North West Argentina. This region covers the Chaco, the Yungas forest and the Andes ecosystems and is inhabited by a large number of indigenous communities. The report focuses on the transition zone between the Yungas forest and the Chaco plains. The report shows how the regional Land Use Planning excercises, demanded by the Argentinean national government, turned out into a new license for massive deforestation and evictions of communities.

The English version of the report can be downloaded from: http://lasojamata.iskra.net/files/Soy_Expansion_Northwest_Argentina.pdf
The Spanish version can be downloaded from: http://www.chayar.com.ar/

La Soja Mata
lasojamata@aseed.net / lasojamata.iskra.net

Chaya Comunicación Cooperativa
www.chayar.com.ar / info@chayar.com.ar

CAPOMA
capoma_ddhh@yahoo.com

Summary

Northwest Argentina has become a major region of agribusiness expansion. This has been promoted by agribusiness companies, the local ruling elite, local government institutions and media, and even some `sustainable development' foundations. New infrastructure projects spur the export of soy and other commodities from the region.

Soy and sugar cane expansion have currently become major drivers for the rampant deforestation and displacement of indigenous and rural communities in the provinces of Salta and Jujuy. Deforestation is also contributing to climatic disasters such as stronger floods and droughts. These communities are struggling for land through legal claims and direct actions. Officially, indigenous peoples' rights to their territory in Argentina are enshrined in various national and international laws and agreements, but these are often not respected.

Argentina's new Forest Law, adopted late 2007 in order to protect native forests, obliged each province to develop a Land Use Plan. The province of Salta gave out a massive number of deforestation permits just before the new Forest Law was adopted. Environmental Impact Assessments carried out for these permits by consultancies were riddled with irregularities. Salta's Land Use Plan did not meet the required effective participation of indigenous and rural communities and its final version will allow further deforestation of large areas. This would severely impact the remaining indigenous and rural communities who have traditionally lived on these lands and depend on these forests for their livelihoods and culture. Salta's Land Use Plan was therefore strongly denounced, and in response Argentina's Supreme Court early 2009 has temporarily put a halt to deforestation in some departments in Salta.

The report contains four case studies that provide a more detailed insight into the land struggles of indigenous and rural communities in Salta and Jujuy (the Itiyuro River Basin, the Wichí community Misión Chaqueña, the Creole families of the Dorado River Basin and the Guaraní community of El Talar). Since legal claims have in most cases not led to satisfactory results, communities are often forced to resort to direct actions like manifestations, blockading roads and fence construction to enforce their rights.

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Climate activists blockade biomass plant in Port Talbot



Activists from Climate Camp Cymru have blockaded a biomass plant in Port

Talbot to protest against plans to produce electricity from imported woodchips.

Two protestors used bicycle locks to close off the plant's entrance, stopping the hourly 20-tonne deliveries of woodchip needed to keep the power station operating. A large banner on the gates reads "Biomess". Other activists climbed up the chimney to unfurl a giant banner in Welsh reading "Clean Energy: Dirty Joke".

The plant is the first of its kind in the UK, incinerating woodchips to generate electricity. It is a test plant for the large-scale plants that have been announced in Britain. The world's largest biomass plant (350 MW) has already been approved in Port Talbot and construction is due to start early next year. The second largest in the world is planned for Holyhead, Anglesey.

Rob Goodsell, 33 said, "The Port Talbot and Holyhead biomass plants will require an area of dedicated biomass plantations half the size of Wales. A land area this size could feed up to a third of the population of Britain. With the world facing serious food security issues in coming years this is crazy."

Ioan Gwyn, 29 said: "The power companies said the wood will come from sustainable sources but the reality is very different. In 2008 about 9 million hectares of industrial tree plantations have been certified as sustainable despite evidence of their devastating effects on people and the environment. These plantations are in fact green deserts: they consume vast amounts of water and are empty of native wildlife."

Melissa Harvey commented: "Burning wood is called carbon neutral but this is a myth. It's hard to believe but burning wood for electricity is even dirtier than coal. It releases one and half as much carbon dioxide as burning coal, and the other pollution affecting air quality is nearly as bad as coal."

Adam Thorogood said: "We're going to cook the world's remaining forests to fight climate change. At this rate, research shows that the world's forests will be all gone within the next 60
years."

Ioan Gwyn commented: "Burning wood releases carbon dioxide. Each plant will emit about 4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. This means that Wales' carbon dioxide emissions will increase by 20% as soon as Port Talbot and Holyhead biomass plant open. Whilst scientists
are warning of the fragility of forest ecosystems, the UK government is subsidising their destruction by giving these two developers £400 million a year. Instead, they should be giving subsidies to truly clean energy, such as wind and solar power."

Rob Goodsell added: "Forests play a key role in sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The best thing to do is to leave the carbon locked up as wood, and that means not burning it." Melissa Harvey concluded: "Catastrophic climate change could be unstoppable in as little as 10 years. This is our last window of opportunity. False solutions such as biomass and carbon trading mean we'll have no chance at all. And when we talk about catastrophic climate change, we're not talking hot summers, we're talking about the question of survival."

http://undercurrentsvideo.blogspot.com/2009/11/protest-against-biomass-p\
lant-in-wales.html

(See the web address above for a video and link to more inforamtion)

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Palm oil hit by additional sustainability criteria



Key quote: "My researchers have gone to Brussels but they (the EU) never disclose (their data). They have the final say," he said."


http://www.btimes.com.my/articles/basri29/Article/

Palm oil hit by additional sustainability criteria

Published: 2009/11/30


FIRST it was the health issue, then the environment and now palm oil has to endure further sustainability criteria for imports to Europe.

"The definition of sustainability is being expanded. We are going to lose market share if we do not do anything," director-general of Malaysian Palm Oil Board Datuk Dr Mohd Basri Wahid said in Brussels recently.

Mohd Basri was a member of the recent palm oil and timber delegation to Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium headed by the Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Tan Sri Bernard Dompok.

The mission was organised by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council and Malaysian Timber Council.


Among others, it aims to improve market access for palm oil and timber products as well as disseminate information on efforts taken on the issue of their sustainability.

The European Union (EU) has set a target of 20 per cent renewable energy sources in its energy consumption by 2020 and that biofuel would account for 10 per cent of the renewable energy use in the transport sector.

Expecting a rise in demand, the EU Renewable Energy Directive has provided a number of sustainability criteria, among them, biofuel production must have minimum greenhouse gas (GHG) savings of 35 per cent by 2010 when compared to fossil fuel.

The directive said areas with high carbon stock such as peatlands or areas with high biodiversity such as primary forest should not be used for biofuels production.

Mohd Basri said there was also the "indirect land use change" criteria, or "iLUC".

The "iLUC" is the unintended consequence of releasing more carbon emissions due to land use changes induced by the expansion of crop land for biofuel production, the phenomenon whereby producing biomass at one location, rainforests are destroyed at another.

The directive requires the European Commission to prepare a report by 2010 on the issue of iLUC, reviewing the impact that biofuels have, either directly or via displacement, on land use change and associated GHG emissions.

"They are going into iLUC without proper studies," said Mohd Basri, lamenting how palm oil was subjected to one-sided view on its default value with regard to GHG savings.

He said under the EU calculations, palm oil has carbon emission savings of 19 per cent and soyabean 31 per cent, both below the 35 per cent threshold which showed some manipulation.

"We provide our data but they don't. My researchers have gone to Brussels but they (the EU) never disclose (their data). They have the final say," he said.

It was reported that the GHG savings for rapeseed was 38 per cent, sunflower 51 per cent and sugar cane ethanol 71 per cent.

Mohd Basri said as the EU's GHG savings target will be increased from 35 to 60 per cent by 2017, it was critical for Malaysian producers to trap the methane at the mills which will show a much higher GHG savings.

He said the government has provided a RM1.2 billion soft loan and it was up to the industry to take it up to improve their processes. - Bernama




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Channel 4 News, Ten ideas to save the planet: biofuels



Ten ideas to save the planet: biofuels

Updated on 30 November 2009

By Channel 4 News

Hailed as both climate saviour and food stock stealer biofuels are one of the most controversial technologies in the fight against greenhouse gasses. Do our experts think they are the answer?

image Return to the Ten Ideas to Save the Planet index here.

What idea policy or technology holds the greatest promise for tackling climate change? That was the question Channel 4 News posed to the scientific community over the past few weeks.

Thanks to the extensive contacts of the Science Media Centre at the Royal Institution Channel 4 News was able to email hundreds of scientists across various fields of expertise to sound-out their opinions.

Scientists across the world are currently researching biofuels which can produce green alternatives to fuels such as petroleum.

They are often seen as controversial as they use widely needed food stocks to be produced. In fact most of the scientists who contacted Channel 4 News said that biofuels would only work if they did not compete with global food supplies.

Professor Douglas Greenhalgh from Heriot-Watt University said that although nuclear and hydrocarbons were "essential fuels" for the transportation and chemical industries biofuels had an important role to play.

"We certainly need to supplement mineral fuels with a diverse range of 3rd and 4th generation biofuels which do not compete with food crops," he said.

Prof Theodosios Alexander from Queen Mary University of London agreed.

"Second and higher generation biofuels (not competing with the food supply) can provide the fuel needed for power-dense long-distance transportation needs that cannot be met with electric propulsion," he said.

Aviation fuel

One industry which has been increasingly in the environmental spotlight is aviation. Across the globe people are being encouraged to fly less in order to significantly reduce carbon emissions.

But some believe that biofuels could provide green alternatives to plane fuel. Some biofuel makers claim they can cut aviation carbon dioxide emissions by 80 per cent. Several airlines have conducted biofuel flight tests over the past years. British Airways are now planning to conduct large-scale ground tests of a range of fuels from next year. It will buy up to 240 tonnes of four kinds of biofuels for its research.

BA is hoping the data generated by the tests should help speed the certification of the fuels for commercial use.


Food stocks

But the problems of production are still worrying some scientists. Prof Chris Thomas from the University of York sent us a co-authored report about the mitigation of climate change.

The report said: "Massive increases in biofuel production might increase competition for land, possibly displacing food production and increasing the destruction of natural habitats."

However Prof Thomas told Channel 4 News that mitigation "could become one of the most important means of achieving global biodiversity conservation."

"Tropical deforestation, devegetation elsewhere, and loss of soil carbon are thought to be responsible for at least 20 per cent of anthropogenic carbon emissions," he said.

"Their removal also takes away their ability to act as a "sink" for atmospheric carbon.

"Policies are required to ensure that most carbon remains where it is, in the world's existing vegetation and soils, particularly concentrating on the conservation of global biodiversity hotspots; facilitating effective global conservation alongside a reduction in emissions.

"In most instances, this is far more effective than renewable biofuels, which increase global-scale pressures on land and are thereby liable to increase net emissions via food and fuel prices."

Return to the Ten Ideas to Save the Planet index here.


http://www.channel4.com/news/articles/science_technology/ten+ideas+to+save+the+planet+biofuels/3444297



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Renewable Fuels Agency event: NGO workshop on how to avoid iLUC, 14 December in London



Dear list,
 
The Renewable Fuels Agency has recently commissioned the consultants Ecofys and Winrock International to develop a methodology that can objectively identify biofuels from energy crops with a low risk of indirect effects. The work is based on an analysis of six real life case studies, and we are holding a workshop for representatives of NGOs to present the methodology and underlying case studies in this study this work. This workshop will also offer a platform for feedback on our iLUC work.
 
The event will be conducted by the Renewable Fuels Agency in conjunction with Ecofys and Winrock, to be held in central London on Monday 14 December 2009. Agenda:
 
10:00 : Tea/coffee available
10:15 : Introduction to the project
10:30 : Presentation of methodology and case studies
11:30 : Discussion
12:00 : Summary and closing remarks
12:30 : End  
 
  
If you are a representative of an NGO and are interested in participating, please RSVP by Monday 7 December to danilo.krahl@rfa.gsi.gov.ukPlease also feel free to forward this message to colleagues who you believe would be interested. 
 
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions.
 
We look forward to welcoming you to London in December.
 
Kind regards, 
 
Chris Malins
 
Chris Malins | Communications Specialist

Tel: +44 (0)20 7944 8454 | Mob: +44 (0)7500 573 521 | Fax: +44 (0)20 7944 8440
Email: chris.malins@rfa.gsi.gov.uk | Web: http://www.renewablefuelsagency.org | Newsletter: Renewable Fuels Digest
Ashdown House, Sedlescombe Road North, St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex, TN37 7GA, UK

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shell put doubts on 2G-BFs



Shell reins back expectations

By Ed Crooks

Published: November 29 2009 19:49 | Last updated: November 29 2009 19:49

Advanced biofuels will not be in widespread use until about 2020, the chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell has said, puncturing hopes that they could be on the verge of a commercial breakthrough.

Peter Voser, who took over at the head of Shell in July, told reporters at a briefing last week that it would take “quite a number of years” before there is a commercially proven plant.

His assessment will damp expectations that advanced “second generation” biofuels will soon be able to make a significant contribution to the world’s fuel supplies, even though they have received heavy research and development support from Shell and other companies, as well as from many governments.

Championed by environmental groups only a few years ago as an effective way to cut greenhouse gas emissions, first generation biofuels, such as ethanol made from corn, are now widely criticised for their social and environmental impact.

They are generally agreed to have contributed to food price inflation, whether directly by using foodstuffs as raw materials, or indirectly by competing with food production for resources such as agricultural land and water.

They also have a questionable performance in terms of cutting emissions. Studies comparing first generation biofuels to conventional petrol and diesel have widely varying results, but sometimes show they actually create more emissions than fuels refined from crude oil.

Ethanol produced from corn in the US, and biodiesel made from palm oil grown in plantations that were previously occupied by tropical forests in Indonesia, are especially likely to raise CO2 emissions rather than cut them.

Second generation biofuels, including cellulosic ethanol made from plant waste such as wood chips or straw, and biodiesel made from algae, are intended to avoid those problems. They do not use food crops, or compete with food production. By using plant matter that would otherwise simply rot or be burned, releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and by consuming CO2 as they are produced, they should also be much more effective at cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Shell has been well aware of these arguments and been one of the most vocal advocates of “second generation” biofuels among the big oil companies. It has argued that subsidies and regulations to encourage biofuels should be reformed so that they favour fuels that offer a greater reduction in emissions, rather than backing all biofuels indiscriminately.

Under Jeroen van der Veer, Mr Voser’s predecessor, Shell pursued a number of different approaches for developing second generation biofuels, giving it a greater portfolio of R&D ventures than any other big oil company.

Most of those ventures are still going. Mr Voser notes with pride that Shell is 18 months ahead of “other companies” in its research into algae; a reference to ExxonMobil, the largest US oil company that has recently been making much of its own algae research with high-profile TV advertising.

However, Shell has been pruning its portfolio. It recently sold its stake in Choren, a German company developing a process to create gas from wood chips and then convert the gas into diesel, which looks like a relatively high-cost way to produce fuel.

The company has also been forced to acknowledge that it has been over-optimistic about when these ventures will start to pay off. When Shell invested in Choren in 2005, there was talk that commercial production could start as early as 2007. It is now expected to start next year. As far back as April 2004, Shell said Iogen, the Canadian biotech company that is its partner in efforts to use enzymes to produce ethanol from straw, was “successfully producing the world’s first cellulose ethanol fuel available for commercial use” at its demonstration plant.

More than five years later, Mr Voser is now managing expectations by warning it is likely to be a decade before that second generation ethanol is in widespread commercial use.

Mr Voser’s cautious assessment is shared by Exxon, and by the International Energy Agency, the rich countries’ watchdog, which argues that if emissions from road transport are to be cut substantially by 2030, it is fuel economy and battery-powered cars such as hybrids that will have to do most of the work, not biofuels.



http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/10500386-dd1c-11de-ad60-00144feabdc0.html

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Indonesia's Loggers Scrutinized Ahead Of Climate Summit



Indonesia's Loggers Scrutinized Ahead Of Climate Summit

Date: 27-Nov-09
Country: INDONESIA
Author: Sunanda Creagh

Indonesia's Loggers Scrutinized Ahead Of Climate Summit Photo: Beawiharta
Burnt trees in a peatland area of Teluk Meranti village in Pelalawan, in Indonesia's Riau province November 10, 2009
Photo: Beawiharta

TELUK MERANTI - Logging in Indonesia can be a murky business involving navigating government bureaucracy to get permits and land concessions in one of the world's most corrupt countries, to winning the hearts and minds of villagers living near the rainforests.

As the issue of deforestation gets set to take center-stage at a global climate change conference in Copenhagen next month, the rapid decline of Indonesia's rainforests has come into the spotlight following heated protests by Greenpeace at the site of a carbon-rich rainforest in Sumatra that is slated for logging.

Indonesia's government has pledged to slow down deforestation, but the process of granting concessions is far from transparent in a country where bribe-taking by officials is common and local governments actively seek investment by logging firms, as well as palm oil plantations on cleared forests.

"There's a long legacy of concerns about the integrity of decision-making in the zoning process and the concession-granting process," said Frances Seymour, director general of the Indonesia-based Center for International Forestry Research.

Home to about 10 percent of the world's rainforests, deforestation in Indonesia occurred at an average rate of 1.08 million hectares a year between 2000 and 2005, according to the Ministry of Forestry. A 2007 World Bank report found Indonesia to be the world's third largest emitter of greenhouse gases behind the United States and China, largely due to massive fires to clear peatland forests. The government rejected the report.

Aside from the risk of corruption tainting the permit granting process, conservationists say that a lack of a coherent government policy on logging rights has led to the granting of concessions in some of the country's most fragile forests.

The Forestry Ministry last week temporarily suspended operations by Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings Limited (APRIL) in Kampar Peninsula, a stretch of rainforest with a rich and rare flora and fauna, including the endangered Sumatran tiger.

The ministry issued the three-month permit review to "see whether it was appropriate to grant this permit," according to Wandojo Siswanto, a senior adviser to the Forestry Minister.

"We in the Ministry of Forestry have a program to examine permits being given on peatland areas to determine optimal management of these areas," he said.
Given that APRIL's logging camps were set up months ago, some conservationists wonder why this process was not done before APRIL was awarded the 56,000 hectare government peatland concession. Peatlands are 50 to 60 percent carbon and when they are exposed from logging or dredging, they release massive amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

The permit review followed a high profile campaign by Greenpeace activists who camped outside APRIL's concession in dengue-infested rainforest. Protestors chained themselves to APRIL's bulldozers, leading to the arrest and deportation of several activists and foreign journalists.

The process in which logging permits are granted in Indonesia is far from transparent. To obtain a permit, a company must have its application documents, including recommendations from local government officials and environmental reports, processed by the Ministry of Forestry.

"Corruption can happen at any stage of the process. You can pay for any report or letter you need and there often is falsification of documents," said Bambang Setiono, director of the Environmental and Natural Resources Economic Institute and one Indonesia's foremost experts on money laundering in the forestry sector.

"It would be very easy for the Minister or the department to check that the documents match conditions on the ground but often they do not."
Indonesia's Corruption Eradication Commission has launched several probes relating to the Forestry Ministry which processes permit applications, but, so far, no major heads have rolled.

STAKEHOLDERS
After the permits are obtained, the logging companies all too frequently turn their sights on winning the hearts and minds of villagers living near their concession, offering them gifts and assistance for their support.

"I don't think these activities are just for the sake of the local people. If they don't do this, the local people will not cooperate. They are buying the support of the local people," said Setiono.

Often the logging companies bring services and infrastructure to sorely neglected villages such as Teluk Meranti, an 800-family fishing hamlet on the fringe of APRIL's Kampar concession, which suffers daily power cuts and has just a mudslick of a main road.

"Really, the government should be fixing our road and mosque, not APRIL," said Hendrizal, a 23-year-old unemployed villager. "Of course APRIL wants something from us! That's why they are helping us. But if they don't help us, who will?"
He was among thousands of locals who were courted by APRIL after it received its Riau concession.

The company sent social workers to Hendrizal's village to woo the locals with promises of jobs, scholarships, free circumcisions for boys in keeping with Islamic law, and a renovation of the local mosque -- all in exchange for co-operation and permission to log their forest.

"If a paper company wants to give us money and compensation, they can take our forest, as far as I am concerned. Global warming is not our business. The most important thing for us is having enough to get by," said Hendrizal.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
There are over 500 logging companies operating in Indonesia. APRIL and Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) are the biggest. Other firms include Kiani Lestari, Kiani Kertas, Tanjung Enim Lestari Pulp and Paper and Sumalindo Lestari Jaya.

In the wake of the Greenpeace protests at APRIL's Riau concession, Finland's UPM-Kymmene, the world's third largest paper manufacturer, ended its pulp purchase contract with APRIL in November. It cited better access to pulp thanks to its raised stake in a mill in Uruguay.

The Finnish firm stressed in a press release its commitment to "forest management and forest harvesting practices based on the principles of sustainable development," and said this also applied to its use of external pulp suppliers, but declined to comment on whether its decision to drop APRIL was also triggered by the firm's forest management practices.

APRIL says it always acts within the law and takes a sustainable approach to logging, including by declaring part of its concession a protected area.

"APRIL is committed to ethical business practices and does not condone any action that is against this principle," the company said in an official statement to Reuters.

Meanwhile, APRIL's efforts to win support by Teluk Meranti villagers for its operation have caused a split in the community, with half the village tempted to support the logging and the other half fighting to protect their trees.

"This forest belongs to the people. What would happen to our grandchildren if there was no forest? Where would they get wood for the houses?" said Muhamad Nasir, 54, a farmer who makes about 34.8 million rupiah ($3,696) a year from his 13 hectares of farmland, where he grows corn and palm oil.

Nasir said he fears that if APRIL gets access to the forest, the wild pigs and monkeys driven out by the logging will eat his crops. His neighbor, Hariyono, 38, worries that if the peatbogs are drained to make way for acacia trees, the water that leaks into the river will kill the fish stocks.

For its part, faced with vocal and unwanted publicity from Greenpeace's protest, APRIL is ready with its own campaign.

"We have spent more than a million euro ($1.49 million) on research on how we manage the peatland concession to reduce carbon emissions," said APRIL's Sustainability Director, Neil Franklin, who added that 15,000 hectares of the firm's concession will be protected and another 5,300 hectares set aside for community use.

"We want to maintain, to manage Kampar properly."

Franklin also said that the peatbogs would not be drained and that the firm would actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 55 percent by repairing peatlands damaged by previous farming practices.

Bustar Maitar, a Greenpeace forest campaigner involved in the protests at Kampar, is skeptical of APRIL's efforts to present its logging plan as environmentally friendly.

"It's clearly green-washing," he said. "What they really must do is to stop their expansion right now, which will destroy natural forest and peat."

(Editing by Sara Webb and Megan Goldin)
© Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved


http://planetark.com/enviro-news/item/55677


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Forest Area Bigger Than Canada Can Be Restored



Note reference at end to biofuels.

Forest Area Bigger Than Canada Can Be Restored

Date: 27-Nov-09
Country: UK
Author: Nina Chestney

Forest Area Bigger Than Canada Can Be Restored Photo: U.S. Forest Service/Handout
Aspen trees in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest in Idaho.
Photo: U.S. Forest Service/Handout

LONDON - Only one fifth of the world's forests remain but an area bigger than Canada could be restored without harming food production, a global alliance dedicated to restoring forests said on Thursday.

A study by the Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration (GPFLR), which includes the WWF, Britain's Forestry Commission and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), said a billion hectares of former forests, equivalent to six percent of the world's total land area, could be restored.

Previous assessments estimated 850 million hectares had restoration potential.
"This is a first go at identifying the total scale of this opportunity. The next stage is to work at a country level to identify what we would restore in the real world," Tim Rollinson, GPFLR chairman and director general of the British Forestry Commission told Reuters in an interview.

Marginal agricultural land, where productivity was low, had the most potential for restoration, the study found.

"There are opportunities in almost every continent. The most potential is in Africa; there are substantial areas in China and India, as well as parts of Brazil," William Jackson, IUCN's deputy director general.

Britain could also do its part. Planting 30,000 football pitches' worth of trees per year could cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent by 2050, a British Forestry Commission report said on Wednesday.

NO TIME TO WASTE
It is estimated that 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation and agriculture.

World leaders are meeting at a U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen in less than two weeks and there are fears that deforestation and agriculture issues will be at the bottom of a long list of responses to climate change to be discussed.

"There is a danger deforestation will get pushed down the agenda in Copenhagen," Jackson said.

By 2030, the restoration of degraded forest land could make a 70 gigatonne cut in greenhouse gases -- the same as from avoided deforestation -- or even twice that amount, based on preliminary estimates in the report.

Investment in mangrove and woodland restoration is worthwhile, achieving rates of return up to 40 percent, a United Nations Environment Programme report said this month.

Forests once covered more than 50 percent of the world's land area. That has declined to less than 30 percent due to unsustainable logging and conversion to other land uses such as grazing, industry, towns and cities, the GPFLR report said.

The rate of deforestation outstrips restoration. The world lost 7 million hectares a year of forests between 2000 and 2005.

"The rate of deforestation has been slowing, but hasn't been going down. Rising agicultural commodity prices and biofuels could drive a new wave. Do you squeeze more productivity out of a hectare of land or do you need more land? That's the dilemma," Jackson said.

(Editing by James Jukwey)
© Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved


http://planetark.com/enviro-news/item/55676




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Protest Stops Cranes At Indonesia's APP Paper Port



Protest Stops Cranes At Indonesia's APP Paper Port

Date: 27-Nov-09
Country: INDONESIA
Author: Sanjeev Miglan

JAKARTA - Environmental activists shut down four cranes at port run by one of Asia's biggest pulp and paper groups on Indonesia's Sumatra island, but overall operations were not hit, the company said on Thursday.

Greenpeace activists have targeted logging and paper firms in Indonesia in recent months to draw attention to the role that deforestation plays in global warming in the lead up to global climate talks in Copenhagen in early December.

Twelve Greenpeace protesters on Wednesday climbed four cranes at a port in Riau province, Sumatra, that is used to export paper produced by PT Indah Kiat Pulp & Paper, a unit of industry giant Asia Pulp & Paper (APP).

The activists unfurled a banner that read "Forest Destruction: You can stop this." The last activist was taken down by police at around 9am on Thursday morning.

"Deforestation is one of the roots of the climate crisis. We are shutting down the exports of one of the world's largest pulp mills at the frontline of forest destruction to tell our elected leaders that they can - and must - pull us back from the brink of catastrophic climate change," Greenpeace campaigner Shailandra Yashwan said in a statement.

At least 18 activists, including 12 foreigners, were detained by Riau police, said a Greenpeace spokesman, Martin Baker.

Aida Greenbury, Asia Pulp & Paper's director of sustainability, said that exports were not disrupted.

"People had to stop work on the cranes that were affected because of potential danger to our staff, so yes, they were disrupting those cranes but we have so many working there it wasn't really affecting operations at all," she told Reuters.

Greenbury said about 1 million tonnes of paper made from trees drawn from Riau and Jambi provinces are exported every year from the port. She said that APP was setting aside parts of its logging concessions in Sumatra for conservation and potential future carbon offset programs.

Greenpeace said purchasers of APP's paper products include Vogue, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Marc Jacobs. Greenbury declined to confirm this.

APP is part of the Sinar Mas group, a conglomerate owned by Indonesia's Widjaja family.

Greenpeace's protest follows a demonstration in Riau's Kampar Peninsula, where activists chained themselves to heavy machinery operated by another industry giant, Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings Ltd (APRIL).

(Editing by Sara Webb and Sanjeev Miglani)
© Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved



http://planetark.com/enviro-news/item/55681


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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Treehugger: how much land needed to power all planes with biofuels?





Note: the word agricultural has been misused here. The amount they calculate is 7.4% of apparent cropland. Also it's assuming use of algae, which have not yet been demonstrated as viable outside ponds.


http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/11/how-much-agricultural-land-for-aviation-biofuels.php

So How Much Agricultural Land Will We Need to Keep Global Aviation Aloft with Biofuels?

by Matthew McDermott, New York, NY on 11.23.09
jet engine photo
photo: Ed Lushcei via flickr.
With a continuing stream of announcements regarding the aviation industry's drive to keep on flying while being a bit greener about it -- KLM is making the first aviation biofuel test flight with passengers today -- TreeHugger wondered how much land will be required to power the global aviation industry with biofuels. We did some quick calculations and this is what we found out:
Nearly 46 Billion Gallons Consumed in 2008
Based on data from the Air Transport Association, in 2008 US-registered airlines consumed 18.85 billion gallons of fuel, 85% of which was from passenger flights (16 billion gallons or so). Which is in turn about 35% of estimated global airline fuel consumption, or 45.8 billion gallons of fuel.
Most test flights are using a blend of feedstocks for their biofuel, often some mixture of algae, jatropha, and camelina, in varying proportions. For our calculations, let's mix evenly.
They're also mixing it 50-50 with petroleum-based fuel, but for the sake of this calculation let's assume full biofuels.
20091123-camelina.jpgAviation Biofuel Likely to be Blended Feedstocks
Crop yields of all three of our proposed feedstocks vary depending on who's reporting them, at least partially because no one's producing large quantities of either camelina-based biofuels or from algae.The exception is jatropha, but there the crop yields vary so widely by region that the average yield is probably lower than an individual high claim suggests.
So let's use some conservative estimates of 300 gallons per acre for algae, 140 gallons per acre for jatropha, and 100 gallons per acre for camelina.

Mixed in thirds, it means each gallon of blended aviation biofuel needs the equivalent of 0.006 acres of cropland.
1.11 Million Square Kilometers, or...
Which means (drumroll...) some 274.8 million acres of cropland would be needed to supply the global aviation industry at current levels of consumption. That's 1.11 million square kilometers or about 424,700 square miles, if you prefer to think in those terms.
Another reference point: That's about the area of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Iowa combined.
...2.5% of Current Agricultural Land Needed
In terms of how much of the world's crop and pastureland, 15 million square kilometers in the world is devoted to crops and 28 million square kilometers for pasture. About 2.5% of that would have to be taken up to satisfy current aviation fuel demand, under the assumptions here.


[Ends]




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BBC News: 2G biofuels do not compete with food



Page last updated at 12:21 GMT, Wednesday, 25 November 2009


'Green' grass in biofuel research

Fuel pump (generic)
Biofuels are used in the fight against climate change

Scientists are working with farmers and fuel companies to produce a greener form of biofuel.

The project is using sugar-rich varieties of perennial ryegrass as a raw material for producing bio-ethanol.

It is being developed at Aberystwyth University's Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences.

Biofuels are hailed as a way to fight climate change, but they have been criticised for their potential impact on food stocks and prices.

But so-called "second-generation" biofuels do not compete with food sources for land - unlike some current biofuels, which are made from the edible parts of crops such as corn or sugar cane.

Biofuels are seen as a way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions compared with conventional transport fuels such as petrol and diesel.
Dr Joe Gallagher
The Grassohol project has only been made possible by the invaluable expertise that each partner brings to the table
Project director Dr Joe Gallagher
Burning the fuels releases CO2, but growing the plants absorbs a comparable amount of the gas from the atmosphere.
Researchers working on the three-year Grassohol project at the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (Ibers) are using sugar-rich varieties of perennial ryegrass.

They are also experimenting with different soils, fertilizers and crops such as white clover.

"The Grassohol project has only been made possible by the invaluable expertise that each partner brings to the table," said Ibers research scientist and project director Dr Joe Gallagher.

"Farmers in the UK are experts on growing pasture and the use of these crops for biorefining will make an important contribution to both farm income and the UK economy whilst maintaining the traditional look of the countryside."

Early results are promising and indicate that up to 4,500 litres of ethanol per hectare of ryegrass could be produced every year.

This is comparable with other energy crops, but Ibers said it had the advantage of being able to grow the ryegrass on poor quality land to create something that was environmentally friendly and cheaper to produce.

Dr Kirstin Eley of fuel company TMO Renewables, which is part of the project, said: "This is a real opportunity to demonstrate the potential of a commercially relevant process using an abundant UK non-food crop feedstock and we are excited to be a part of this collaboration, working alongside other leading groups."

Earlier this year, scientists at Aberystwyth University revealed they were turning elephant grass, more commonly known as a garden plant, into biofuel.

The UK Government has said that by 2010 5% all fuel should come from biofuels.

The European Union has gone further, setting a target of 10% by 2020.

[Ends]

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/mid/8378232.stm


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(UK) Biofuel-related Early Day Motions in new Parliament



(UK) Please ask your MP to sign the following Early Day Motions:
 
1.
EDM 230   
WORLD HUNGER AND BIOFUELS
25.11.2009
Vis, Rudi
That this House notes that the number of hungry and malnourished people has passed the one billion mark, in part because of rising food prices; further notes the comment by Oliver De Schutter, UN rapporteur on the right to food, that the November 2009 UN Food Summit declaration text omits to mention the diversion of arable land to biofuels, being a major contributor to rising food prices; further notes that several major scientific analyses indicate that first world incentives for liquid biofuels from crops are having a net negative effect on the environment, and that there is no practical mechanism known to rectify this; further notes that medical research is not promoted by placing medicines believed to cause net harm on unlimited sale; therefore seeks a radical reform of EU bioenergy policy so as to put hunger-abatement and environmental objectives first; and urges the Government to place a moratorium on the awarding of Renewables Obligation Certificates to UK power station projects using liquid biofuels from crop sources, which are currently proliferating.

  http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=39773&SESSION=903
Signatures( 13)
 

2.
EDM 232   
PALM OIL AND DEFORESTATION
25.11.2009

Vis, Rudi
That this House recognises the manifold value of rainforests; notes that palm oil requires a humid equatorial climate to be profitable, hence the current collision between the expansion of oil palm plantations and rainforests, their communities, carbon stores and endangered wildlife such as orangutans; further notes remarks by Friends of the Earth International that sustainability certification of palm oil by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil is no solution as it does not halt deforestation, it does not halt the expansion of damaging oil palm plantations and it does not benefit local communities; further notes that with high oil prices, palm oil growth for bioenergy poses a grave threat to rainforests around the tropics; therefore urges the Government and world community to make it a priority to stop expansion of palm oil monocultures and other industrial-scale farming and agroforestry onto rainforest land, in particular by acting to control consumption of the respective commodities; and to achieve an effective, equitable agreement to curb the loss of natural forest and carbon sinks, in a manner that ensures justice for forest peoples.
Signatures( 18)
Also topical are:
 
For reducing livestock impacts including of feed; concerned about sheer quantity of livestock in the world
 
For reducing livestock impacts in particular looking at soy-based feed overseas
 
EDM 229  LIVESTOCK AND CLIMATE CHANGE (Challen, Colin) 6 signatures
Highlights World Watch "Livestock and climate change" report; calls for consideration of livestock emissions in government and Climate Change Committee policy, and support for vegetarianism.
 
 


http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=39775&SESSION=903

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November World Rainforest Movement Bulletin



The November Bulletin of the World Rainforest Movement is available from www.wrm.org.uy . 

It focusses on the Copenhagen climate talks and includes articles on tree plantations, proposals for planting trees in deserts, biochar, other types of geo-engineering, carbon trading, including carbon offsets, a list of  relevant statements for addressing the climate crisis, and an article about climate change policy and gender. 

Below is an artice "Greewashing the green desert in Copenhagen"

Greenwashing the green desert in Copenhagen

It seems increasingly likely that no binding deal will come out of Copenhagen and that the North will attempt to scrap the Kyoto Protocol. It also seems likely that some sort of deal will be pushed through on reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD). There is a serious danger that REDD will act as greenwash for the North's failure to reduce emissions dramatically. REDD could generate a massive land grab, it could pour money into some of the most corrupt governments and forestry ministries in the world, it could trample on indigenous peoples' and local communities' rights, it could accelerate conversion of forests to plantations and it could create a massive loophole allowing pollution in the North to continue. All the while allowing deforestation to continue.

But with or without a REDD deal, the UN climate negotiations have already caused serious problems for people and forests, through the Clean Development Mechanism's support of industrial tree plantations. "CDM fraud at its worst," as WRM described it in August 2009.

The problem starts with the definition of "forest". So far, there is no agreed definition of forest in the REDD negotiations, but under the CDM definition any area bigger than 500 square metres with crown cover of 10 per cent and trees capable of growing two metres high is a "forest". Even clearcuts are included in this definition of a "forest".

The FAO has long supported the myth that plantations are forests. Recently, the FAO produced a leaflet, explaining that "Negotiations need clear terminology". That much is true. But the leaflet discusses the difference between "sustainable forest management" and "sustainable management of forests". Needless to say both versions of "sustainable management" include industrial tree plantations. The FAO is institutionally incapable of seeing the difference between a plantation and a forest, but will pay intelligent people very comfortable salaries to produce an analysis of the word "of".

A look at the lending of the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank's lending arm to the private sector, illustrates why the definition of forests matters. First the good news. In August 2009, World Bank President Robert Zoellick ordered a complete moratorium on Bank investment in oil palm plantations. The change came after a complaint to the IFC's Compliance Advisory Ombudsman (CAO) by a series of NGOs about the IFC's loans to palm oil giant Wilmar.

As we're dealing with the World Bank, it should come as no surprise that there's also some bad news: The IFC is planning to increase lending for non-oil palm industrial tree plantations. In October 2009, at the World Forestry Congress in Argentina, the IFC's Mark Constantine gave a presentation titled "Increasing Private Sector Impact in the Forest Sector". When Constantine says "forest", he also means "plantations".

Constantine's presentation included a section titled "What have we learned?". But he apparently didn't mention the problems caused by Wilmar's oil palm plantations. Nor did he mention a US$50 million loan that the IFC gave in 2004 to the Brazilian pulp company Aracruz. The loan was hastily repaid shortly after Aracruz and the local police violently removed the Tupinikim and Guarani indigenous peoples from their villages that they had reclaimed from Aracruz's monocultures.

Among the "new approaches" that Constantine suggested are to "Increase forest access to carbon market" and to "Invest in plantations and forest industries". He talked about the need to "Ramp up investments in forest plantations". While Constantine mentioned the risk of "monoculture / 'green desert'", this does not mean that the IFC will not be handing out money to expand the green desert.

On 18 November 2009, the IFC announced that it is planning to invest in 250,000 hectares of industrial tree plantations in Indonesia. In the IFC's press release, Adam Sack, IFC Country Manager for Indonesia said that "This new program is part of IFC's commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emission." IFC states that the plantations could cut approximately 90 million tons of carbon emissions each year and that this supposed reduction in emissions could be traded under the CDM.

IFC describes its proposed projects as "reforestation" that "sequesters carbon by removing CO2 from the atmosphere." But it is not reforestation – it is replacing a degraded landscape by a monoculture. And any carbon dioxide stored in the trees will be quickly released, when the trees are used to produce paper or bioenergy.

When the CAO carried out its review of IFC lending to Wilmar's palm oil plantations in Indonesia it found that "Because commercial pressures dominated IFC's assessment process, the result was that environmental and social due diligence reviews did not occur as required."

In his presentation at the World Forestry Congress, IFC's Constantine asked "How do we measure success?". His answer, for plantations was "Number of hectares in new plantations. Dollars invested. Number of projects." History, it seems, is due to repeat itself.

The solution to this is simple. The UN needs a definition of forests that excludes plantations. Then the IFC's plans in Indonesia could be seen for what they are. Not as "reforestation," or part of a "commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emission," but as a subsidy to the socially and environmentally destructive plantation sector.

By Chris Lang, http://chrislang.org


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Biodiesel: a new Norwegian tax target



26 November 2009

Being green is not necessarily inexpensive. The Norwegian Government has proposed to remove a tax exemption on biodiesel for the safety of people rather than the health of the environment.

The Government argues that costs related to road accidents, congestion, noise and road wear and tear are the same whether cars are run on fossil fuels or renewable fuels.

Norway has also introduced a sales obligation that guaranties 2.5% biofuel in 2009. This obligation will be achieved by low blends of biodiesel in all ordinary diesel.

`Tax exemption for biodiesel reduces the price of all diesel, which gives incentives to increase diesel consumption. Increased diesel consumption contributes even more to the negative consequences of road traffic mentioned above. The sales obligation will be mandatory when it comes to the total sale of biofuels in Norway. The tax exemption for biodiesel is therefore redundant, and also leads to reduced revenue for the state,' the Government states.

Biodiesel will in the future still be taxed less than fossil fuel, because biofuels are still exempted from the carbon dioxide tax. The CO2-tax amounts to 214 NOK per ton CO2, whereas the carbon price in the European emission market lately has been about 100-150 NOK. Up till today biodiesel has not been subject to the road tax on diesel. The exemption from the road tax will be halved in 2010, and phased-out completely from 2011.

The European trend is to reduce or abolish tax exemptions for biofuels and instead use biofuel sale obligation.

Germany, the main European producer of biodiesel, introduced a tax on biodiesel already in 2007. At the same time a biofuel sale obligation was introduced. The Swedish government has also stated that the tax exemption on biofuels should be abolished no later than 2014. They have stated that a biofuel sale obligation can be introduced.

http://www.biofuels-news.com/industry_news.php?item_id=1488

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Have your say about BF Plantations and Rainforests. BBC Home Planet.



Begin forwarded message:  BBC Radio 4 programme -'Home Planet'   Tuesday December 1st will be discussing rainforests and biofuel plantations , and what (if anything) the Copenhagen talks are going to do safeguard forests.  You can go on BBC website - go to radio 4 /Home Planet to ask questions which the panel of scientists discuss on air. It may be good for a few other people to tune in/ ask similar questions about biofuel and rainforest destruction. It is good that issue will get coverage on BBC radio.

Alison Hunt

Don't forget, you can find out more information and listen to the programme on our programme webpage via the Radio 4 website  - http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/science/homeplanet.shtml

However, if you need a reply to a specific query, please visit the Radio 4 Contact Us page http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/help/contactr4.shtml
 
For more information about BBC programmes, services and the BBC itself visit the BBC Information website at http://www.bbc.co.uk/info
 
Home Planet

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

US bets $150m on high-risk renewable energy



US bets $150m on high-risk renewable energy

IF YOU had $150 million to spend on boundary-busting energy research, where would you put the cash? The US Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy has committed that amount this year, with one lofty aim: to transform the planet's energy future. But which technologies are its best bets?

ARPA-E knows it's taking some huge gambles: it fully expects that many of the 37 projects it picked will fail. "Our model is to look for risky, high-potential technologies that don't currently have a means of funding to see if they will work," says ARPA-E's deputy director, Shane Kosinski.

ARPA-E knows it's taking some huge gambles: it fully expects many of the 37 projects it picked to fail

The initial announcement that funding was available resulted in a flood of over 3600 grant applications. A team of 400 leading energy researchers helped whittle down the list. The fine details of the projects chosen remain sketchy, however.

Topping the grant allocation list was drilling company Foro Energy of Littleton, Colorado. The company has been tight-lipped about how it plans to spend the $9.1 million it was allocated. However, ARPA-E has confirmed that the grant will help to develop a hybrid thermal-mechanical drill system capable of quickly cutting through ultra-hard rock formations deep underground, potentially unlocking vast new stores of geothermal energy.

For "hot rocks" to become a viable, mainstream energy source, drills that can cut through much harder material than those used in the oil and gas industries are needed.

"If you can drill down 2 to 3 kilometres you can potentially open up a vast sea of heat that you can run power plants on," says Joseph Romm at the Center for American Progress, who headed the DoE's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office in 1997.

Such drilling technology is likely to use intense temperatures to soften hard crystalline rock, allowing a mechanical drill bit to move through it with less wear. Prior attempts at thermal drilling have employed electrical heaters, pressurised steam, lasers and blowtorches as hot as 1800 °C.

The type of thermal technology Foro is pursuing remains unknown, but documents obtained by New Scientist through a Freedom of Information Act request reveal that the company currently has a laboratory-scale drill and plans to dig a 4.6-kilometre-deep demonstration well within three years. "We didn't even consider this 10 years ago because we did not imagine you could drill down that far economically," says Romm.

The second-largest grant went to chemical manufacturing giant DuPont and biofuel start-up Bio Architecture Lab of Seattle, which will split $9 million to develop technology to obtain biobutanol from algae. The project aims to make biofuels a more viable energy source, says Nathan Danielson of DuPont. The first goal would be to produce higher yields than cellulose-based feedstocks such as maize are able to, without needing fresh water or arable land to grow. Secondly, biobutanol packs a higher energy density than existing ethanol biofuels and can be mixed with regular gasoline in higher concentrations.

"The conversion of algae into its basic sugars and subsequent treatment with a biocatalyst into biobutanol has never been done before; a significant portion of these technologies will have to be developed from scratch," says Danielson.

If 2.5 per cent of US coastal waters were seeded with floating kelp beds, the biobutanol harvested from them could replace about 26 billion litres of petroleum-based gasoline per year, Danielson claims.

ARPA-E's third-largest grant - one of only two for wind power - went to FloDesign of Wilbraham, Massachusetts, which is developing a new type of wind turbine that could dramatically increase energy generation. It has been working on turbines which harvest twice as much energy as a conventional turbine of the same size.

FloDesign would not reveal specific goals for its 30-month project. However, the company has previously said it planned to complete a 3.6-metre-diameter, 10-kilowatt system by early 2010 before ramping up to megawatt-rated turbines.

Rounding out the four largest grants was $7.2 million to develop low cost, megawatt-rated batteries capable of backing up and smoothing out the intermittent energy supply from wind farms and other renewable sources. Today, such power-grid-scale batteries are prohibitively expensive for most renewable energy applications.

EaglePicher Technologies of Joplin, Missouri, and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington, will use the funds to develop a sodium beta alumina battery that will cost no more than $200 per kilowatt of capacity, compared with about $500 today.

Sodium beta alumina batteries have been around for decades and require operating temperatures in excess of 300 °C. By reconfiguring the battery's architecture, the group hopes to be able to operate it at higher power densities and at lower temperatures, allowing for construction using cheaper materials. The project aims to develop a modular, scalable 5-kilowatt battery within three years.

For Romm, the recent influx of funding to enable these and other ARPA-E grants is a dream come true. "I would have given anything to have had this kind of new money," he says.

Others are less enthused. Energy analyst Daniel Kammen at the University of California, Berkeley, says the agency needs a more radical approach. "I think there are some nice projects in there, but I think we're going to need to see a more 'pie in the sky' portfolio over time," he says.

Such projects may include super-high wind turbines that tap into the jet stream, space-based solar power, and solar panels integrated into the skin of buildings, he suggests.

ARPA-E will be accepting applications for its next round of funding before the end of the year, though this cash is likely to be provided for a narrower range of technologies directed at specific problems, Kosinski says. But he insists it is still aiming high. "If it's going to make a significant impact, ARPA-E is interested."

ARPA-E's other gambles

  • $6.9m for an all-metal power-grid-scale battery to Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • $6.7m for more efficient electric car batteries to Delphi Automotive in Kokomo, Indiana

  • $6.0m for a novel algae-harvesting system for biofuels to Univenture of Marysville, Ohio

  • $5.3m for a nanotube-enhanced ultra-capacitor to FastCAP Systems of Cambridge, Massachusetts

  • $5.1m for a new class of metal-air batteries to Arizona State University in Tempe

  • $5.2m for cyanobacteria that produce fatty acids for biofuel feedstock to Arizona State University

  • $5.0m for sensors, software and controls to improve energy use in buildings to Stanford University

[Comments]


Two ARPA-E grants for algal biofuel research and one for researching cyanobacteria producing fatty acids for biofuel.


http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20427355.300-us-bets-150m-on-highrisk-renewable-energy.html?full=true

[report includes video clip]

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'Organic farming may counter climate change,' report says



For Soil Association page see: http://www.soilassociation.org/Whyorganic/Climatefriendlyfoodandfarming/Soilcarbon/tabid/574/Default.aspx

This study doesn't appear to go into the indirect consequences from finding additional grassland to compensate for reducing uptake of soya, whether in lost carbon from deforestation or lost reafforestation opportunity.


http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/organic-farming-may-counter-climate-change-report-says-1827624.html

'Organic farming may counter climate change,' report says

By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor

Thursday, 26 November 2009


Organic farming can play an important role in countering climate change, a new report suggests today.

Use of organic methods means that the soil takes up much more carbon, which would otherwise be released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide to boost global warming, according to the report from the Soil Association, the organic food and farming charity.

Soil is a major store of carbon, the report says, containing three times as much as the atmosphere and five times as much as forests. About 60 per cent of this is in the form of organic matter in the soil. On average, organic farming produces 28 per cent higher levels of soil carbon compared to non-organic farming in northern Europe, according to the report, and 20 per cent higher for all countries studied (in Europe, North America and Australasia).

The report suggests that widespread adoption of organic farming practices would offset 23 per cent of the UK's greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture through soil carbon sequestration alone, more than doubling the Government's target of a 6-11 per cent reduction by 2020.

If all UK farmland were converted to organic, the report says, at least 3.2 million tonnes of carbon would be taken up by the soil each year – the equivalent of taking nearly 1 million cars off the road.


[Comments]





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Conference Announcement / Call for papers: Greenhouse gas emissions from bioenergy systems: impacts of timing, issues of responsibility - March 8 - 10, 2010







IEA Bioenergy Task 38, in cooperation with JOANNEUM RESEARCH and Centre wallon de Recherches agronomiques, is pleased to announce its 2010 Annual Conference.

Theme: "Greenhouse gas emissions from bioenergy systems: impacts of timing, issues of responsibility"
Dates: March 8 - 10, 2010
Location: Brussels, Belgium

The conference will take place on March 8th and 9th. There will be an optional field excursion to nearby bioenergy facilities on March 10th.

Objectives

Who should take responsibility for emissions due to land use change associated with bioenergy?  How does the timing of emissions from land use change, emission reductions, and sequestration associated with bioenergy systems influence the mitigation benefit of bioenergy? How can policy be devised to recognize impacts of timing, and issues of responsibility?

The conference will present research on this subject and discuss policy approaches to promote the appropriate use of biomass for energy.

At this time we are inviting relevant papers for the conference. Please send abstracts and titles to Ms. Susanne Woess-Gallasch (

susanne.woess@joanneum.at) by January 7th

Sincerely

Neil Bird and Susanne Woess-Gallasch

JOANNEUM RESEARCH
Elisabethstrasse 5
A-8010, Graz, Austria
Tel: +43 (316) 876 1423
Fax: +43 (316) 876 91423
Email:
neil.bird@joanneum.at

   


Background

IEA Bioenergy is an international, collaborative research programme on bioenergy aiming at improved international cooperation and information exchange (www.ieabioenergy.com). The primary goal of IEA Bioenergy Task 38 ("Greenhouse Gas Balances of Biomass and Bioenergy Systems") is to investigate all processes involved in the use of bioenergy and carbon sequestration systems, with the aim of assessing overall greenhouse gas balances and supporting decision makers in selection of mitigation strategies. Participating countries are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the USA. The conference is part of a series of workshops and conferences within Task 38, taking place on a regular basis. For more detailed information on the Task, its output, and on previous events see: www.ieabioenergy-task38.org/
 
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Fwd: The European Union Must Stop False Solutions to Climate Change



Press Release: "We Seek HELP"

Human security, Ecological and Climate Debt, Land rights, Production and Consumption Change

The Indonesian Peasant's Union (SPI) – La Via Campesina, WALHI (FoE Indonesia), the Anti-Debt Coalition (KAU) and the Action-Study Circle for Indonesian Democracy (LS-ADI)

25 November 2009

The European Union Must Stop False Solutions to Climate Change


JAKARTA (25/11) – Eleven days before the fifteenth Conference of the Parties under the United Nations' Climate Change Convention that will be held in Copenhagen between the 7th and the 18th of December, an issue which remains controversial is the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) between the European Union and the Indonesian government, designed to support trade liberalisation between the two region as well as increase cooperation in the mitigation of climate change, in part through the provision of 550 million Euros of funding.

This climate change cooperation is based on a European Union agreement to decrease emissions by up to 20%, while at the same time encouraging the use of 10% agrofuel energy by 2020. To reach this target the European Union is supporting a carbon trading mechanism and the production of agrofuels in developing nations.

This decision will undoubtedly worsen the condition of developing nations like Indonesia, which are already experiencing the effects of climate crisis. Aside from the fact that the European Union's emissions target is not strong enough to save the global climate, support for the development of agrofuels will worsen the exploitation of land and shifting land use, and instead support the interests of corporations. Supporting the development of agrofuels also increases conflict between peasants and plantations, and by 2008 more that 500 such conflicts had already occurred between peasants and palm oil plantation companies in Indonesia.

Accordingly we argue that Annex 1 countries, in particular the European Union, must take appropriate and immediate steps to solve climate change. With the end of the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol in 2012, countries must commit to a decrease in emissions of at least 40% by 2020, while avoiding market mechanisms and prioritising the welfare of the people.

We call on Annex 1 countries and the European Union to show a serious commitment to changing extravagant consumption patterns and to instead consider ecological limits. Annex 1 countries also need to acknowledge that the use of clean energy does not equate with the use of agrofuels or nuclear energy, and does not involve dirty technology transfer such as carbon capture and storage. Annex 1 countries and the European Union should not allocate funding via loans, and should instead transfer knowledge to developing countries to establish renewable energy such as solar, wind and micro hydro.

In relation to agriculture, we call on Annex 1 countries and the European Union to support sustainable agriculture, because this will correct environmental damage and help millions of small farming families. Agriculture must also support the cooling of the earth by using farming practices that store CO2 and decrease the use of energy within agriculture.

The European Union, as an organisation that respects human rights and is concerned about environmental problems, must immediately cease its support of false solutions to climate change, including the promotion of agrofuels in developing countries, carbon trading mechanisms and carbon offsets, as a way of avoiding climate change.

www.walhi.or.id/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=410%3Auni-eropa-harus-hentikan-solusi-palsu-perubahan-iklim&catid=176%3Asiaran-pers&Itemid=157&lang=en

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