Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sierra Leone takes steps to save mangroves

FREETOWN (AFP) – Sierra Leone's fragile mangrove ecosystem risks being depleted if steps are not taken, the country's forestry director said Saturday after African countries adopted a plan to save coastal mangrove forests.

"There is (a) need to formulate and implement a sustainable policy... and a need for an integrated approach for the safeguard of the environmental and economic benefits of mangrove resources," Ahmed Mansaray said in a statement broadcast on national radio.

Mansaray spoke a day after Sierra Leone and five other west African countries -- Mauritania, Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia and Guinea -- signed onto an action plan for sustainable mangrove management in Freetown.

Trees and shrubs that grow in saline areas of the tropics and subtropics, mangroves play a key role as nursery areas for fish and shrimp and in stabilising shorelines, environmentalists say.

Mangroves cover about 760,000 hectares (1.9 million acres) of Sierra Leone -- on par with the country's forest cover, according to government statistics.

But rice cultivation, wood cutting and other activities have taken a toll on the country's mangrove ecosystem, experts at the Freetown workshop were quoted as saying.

Worldwide, mangrove forests are among the most threatened tropical ecosystems, with pollution, climate change, overharvesting and overfishing among the factors accounting for their disappearance, according to international conservation group WWF


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New evictions in Chiapas likely for palm plantations

Mexico: violent evictions in Chiapas rainforest clear land for biofuels?
By WW4 Report,
Created 02/27/2010 - 19:32

NGOs in Mexico's conflicted southern state of Chiapas are protesting
the "forced displacement" by state and federal police of two peasant
settlements in the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve [1]. The operations
took place Jan. 21 and 22 at the settlements of Laguna El Suspiro and
Laguna San Pedro—the last one a base community of the Zapatista [2]
rebel movement. Homes were destroyed, and the inhabitants forcibly
taken by helicopter to the nearby town of Palenque, where they were
given temporary shelter in resettlement center—and interrogated by
federal agents about supposed marijuana [3] cultivation on their
lands. Officials from the Federal Prosecutor for Environmental
Protection and National Commission for Protected Areas were
helicoptered in along with the police contingents to oversee the

The Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center [4], Fray Pedro
Lorenzo de la Nada Human Rights Center [5], Serapaz [6] and other
groups demanded the government indemnify the displaced communities.
They also cited other settlements at imminent threat of eviction,
including Nuevo San Gregorio, Nuevo Salvador Allende, Nuevo San Pedro,
6 de Octubre, Poblado Laguna El Suspiro, Ojo de Agua el Progreso and
San Jacinto Lacanjá.

On Jan 26, state and federal environmental authorities issued a new
plan for the "Ruta Maya"—including the Montes Azules reserve—
emphasizing eco-tourism development. (La Jornada [7], Feb. 5)

The Latin American Network against Monoculture Tree Plantations
(RECOMA [8]) warns that the lands of the evicted peasants could be
turned over for "biofuel [9]" production, noting that in January the
Chiapas state legislature had approved funds for establishing African
oil palm plantations. (Rel-UITA [10], Uruguay, [11],
Argentina, Feb. 23)

See our last posts on Mexico [12] and the struggle in Chiapas [13]

Please leave a tip [14] or answer the Exit Poll [15].

• Mexico Theater
powered by Drupal opensource technology and the people of Sundays Energy
Source URL:


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Friday, February 26, 2010

DEFRA / DfT report - Biofuels research gap analysis

Biofuels research gap analysis

Biofuels are transport fuels made from renewable biological resources, such as plants or waste matter.  Replacing fossil fuel with biofuels has the potential to deliver approximately 338 to 371 million tonnes of global CO2 savings per year(1) . However, scientists have highlighted uncertainties in the evidence on biofuels, with some research showing that biofuels could actually increase greenhouse gas emissions if produced in the wrong way and from non-sustainable sources. 

The Renewable Energy Directive sets ambitious targets for renewable energy including a target for each Member State to deliver a 10% (2) share of its energy in transport from renewable sources by 2020, a significant share of which is expected to be met through the use of biofuels. As an initial step in order to reduce the uncertainties in the evidence around biofuels, the UK Government commissioned a clear analysis of the existing gaps in research that need to be addressed going forward.

The AEA scoping study has been important in highlighting a number of gaps in the evidence base for the promotion and deployment of sustainable biofuels, and will help the UK Government to develop a strategic approach to biofuel research and development. Its findings have prompted the Department for Transport to take forward research in a number of areas, including improving our understanding of sustainability concerns associated with the production of biofuels and identifying any capability barriers to their deployment. Further updates on the individual projects will become available on the departments website.


(1) The Gallagher Review of the indirect effects of biofuels production. Renewable Fuels Agency, July 2008.
(2) The feasibility of reaching the 10% transport target whilst ensuring sustainability will be subject to review by the European Commission by the end of 2014.

Biofuels Research Gap Analysis (4 Mb)

This study has identified a number of research gaps for the promotion and deployment of sustainable biofuels.

22 October 2009

Councillor Andrew Boswell
Green Party Group Leader
Norfolk County Council E:;  T: 01603-613798, M 07787127881

Published : October 2009
AND (400 page report)

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UK Government Foresight project Land Use Futures report

Contains analysis of biofuel and other RE requirements for land use

Foresight project Land Use Futures launches final report

The report, a two-year study involving over 300 experts in subjects ranging from ecology, economics, planning and geography, outlines that a new approach to managing the UK's land will be vital to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

26 february 2010

Land Use Futures - project outputs

01 cover thumb

Main Reports

Land Use Futures: making the most of land in the 21st century (0.7MB)
Executive summary

Land Use Futures: making the most of land in the 21st century (16.5MB)
Project final report and executive summary

Land Use Futures: making the most of land in the 21st century (15MB)
Systems maps

Evidence Reviews

As part of its evidence, the Foresight project commissioned over 35 evidence reviews. These papers have been published in a special issue of Land Use Policy journal, Volume 26. The papers are listed below and can also be accessed on the Science Direct site.

The papers are grouped into four categories. Please click on the cross next to the relevant group to view the papers.

Discussion Documents

In addition, there are a number of discussion papers, workshop reports and contractual reports, which form part of the project evidence for the project. They contain a broad range of perspectives, views and opinions but are not formal evidence reviews. As such, the views expressed do not necessarily represent the views of the Government Office for Science, nor the policy of the UK Government.

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New chemical route for plant 'waste' jet biofuel

Jesse Q. Bond, David Martin Alonso, Dong Wang, Ryan M. West, and James A. Dumesic
Science 26 February 2010: 1110-1114.
A biomass-derived compound is transformed into hydrocarbon fuels and a CO2 stream amenable to sequestration. Abstract » Full Text » PDF » Supporting Online Material » Podcast Interview »

Integrated Catalytic Conversion of {gamma}-Valerolactone to Liquid Alkenes for Transportation Fuels

Jesse Q. Bond, David Martin Alonso, Dong Wang, Ryan M. West, James A. Dumesic*

Efficient synthesis of renewable fuels remains a challenging and important line of research. We report a strategy by which aqueous solutions of {gamma}-valerolactone (GVL), produced from biomass-derived carbohydrates, can be converted to liquid alkenes in the molecular weight range appropriate for transportation fuels by an integrated catalytic system that does not require an external source of hydrogen. The GVL feed undergoes decarboxylation at elevated pressures (e.g., 36 bar) over a silica/alumina catalyst to produce a gas stream composed of equimolar amounts of butene and carbon dioxide. This stream is fed directly to an oligomerization reactor containing an acid catalyst (e.g., H ZSM-5, Amberlyst-70), which couples butene monomers to form condensable alkenes with molecular weights that can be targeted for gasoline and/or jet fuel applications. The effluent gaseous stream of CO2 at elevated pressure can potentially be captured and then treated or sequestered to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from the process.

Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail:

Chemists create biofuel from plant waste

Last Updated: Thursday, February 25, 2010 | 4:16 PM ET

U.S. researchers have developed a highly efficient way of creating biofuel out of crop waste.

The researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison developed a chemical process that converts gamma-valerolactone, a derivative of the woody and grassy parts of plants, into fuel.

The chemists say the resulting biofuel, called alkenes, is powerful enough to be used as jet fuel, unlike ethanol which lacks the energy density needed for such an application.

Converting crop waste, the non-edible parts of food crops, into biofuel is especially attractive because it doesn't require converting food crop land into crops specifically for biofuel.

The process starts with gamma-valerolactone (GVL), a colourless liquid with an herbal smell that is used as an additive in perfumes.

The researchers developed a process using metal catalysts that converts GVL into jet fuel. Their research appears this week in the journal Science.

The process does give off carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, but the researchers point out that all biofuel production processes do and their process produces a pure stream of carbon dioxide that's suited for underground sequestering.

"With very minimal processing, we can produce a pure stream of jet-fuel-range alkenes and a fairly pure stream of carbon dioxide," said Jesse Bond, a post-doctoral researcher at UW-Madison, in a statement.

The process has only been tried on the laboratory scale, but it could be adapted to an industrial setting, if the cost of making GVL could be brought down.

"The bottleneck in having the fuel ready for prime time is the availability of cost-effective GVL," said David Martin Alonso, also of UW-Madison.

"Once the GVL is made effectively, I think this is an excellent way to convert it to jet fuel," he said.

Read more:

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Two new Rainforest Rescue email alerts

1)  Email alert against Shell's sugar cane ethanol plans in Brazil:

Shell is planning to make the largest ever investment in biofuels in a deal worth $12 billion. The oil company is preparing to form a joint venture with the Brazilian company Cosan to produce and sell ethanol from Brazilian sugar cane. Shell will contribute about $1.625 billion. Initially, the joint venture will produce about 2 billion litres a year but the companies plan to increase this to a whopping 5 billion litres a year which would make the venture one of the world's top three ethanol producers.

2) Email alert: Palm oil companies destroy Amazon rainforest in Peru:

"The forest is not for sale! The forest will be defended!" Those are the calls from indigenous peoples in Peru defending their territories. Deep inside the Peruvian Amazon forest, in the regions San Martín and Loreto, thousands of hectares of virgin rainforest are being destroyed and converted to oil palm plantations at the hands of the powerful Romero Group (Grupo Romero), supported by the policies of the government of Peru. Without any public consultation, this palm oil company has been awarded concessions over thousands of hectares of rainforest.

For both alerts, see

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Follow up conference - DEFRA / DfT report - Biofuels research gap analysis

Biofuels East 2010 Conference

12 March 2010

Biofuels have a role in addressing the challenges of energy security and climate change. However, a debate on the impact associated with indirect land use change has led the UK government to review their uptake.

Interest in advanced biofuels has intensified with investment in the development of alternative feedstocks and bio and thermochemical production processes.

The UK can make a significant contribution to the global development of low carbon biofuels and collaborative projects between academia and industry are vital as we move forward. The 'Biofuels Research Gap Analysis' produced by DEFRA and DFT listed many key questions to be addressed in the move for sustainable biofuels production.

At a time when the EU and UK governments are consulting with policy-makers, researchers and industry about the UK's future research strategy, companies and research institutes with an interest in ANY aspect of biofuels should attend this event.

Come to our Biofuels East 2010 Conference to examine:

  • indirect land use change, sustainability and certification issues
  • the role of biofuels in a sustainable transport sector in the UK
  • biofuels R&D in the UK: strengths and gaps
  • the latest developments in perennial crops
  • opportunities for algal biofuels
  • tailor-made processes for lignocellulosic biofuels
  • advances in biomethane
  • the potential of thermochemical technologies.


17 March 2010


Churchill College, Cambridge, CB3 0DS


Download the event flyer below to find out how to register.

< back to events

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DEFRA / DfT report - Biofuels research gap analysis

Biofuels research gap analysis

Biofuels are transport fuels made from renewable biological resources, such as plants or waste matter.  Replacing fossil fuel with biofuels has the potential to deliver approximately 338 to 371 million tonnes of global CO2 savings per year(1) . However, scientists have highlighted uncertainties in the evidence on biofuels, with some research showing that biofuels could actually increase greenhouse gas emissions if produced in the wrong way and from non-sustainable sources. 

The Renewable Energy Directive sets ambitious targets for renewable energy including a target for each Member State to deliver a 10% (2) share of its energy in transport from renewable sources by 2020, a significant share of which is expected to be met through the use of biofuels. As an initial step in order to reduce the uncertainties in the evidence around biofuels, the UK Government commissioned a clear analysis of the existing gaps in research that need to be addressed going forward.

The AEA scoping study has been important in highlighting a number of gaps in the evidence base for the promotion and deployment of sustainable biofuels, and will help the UK Government to develop a strategic approach to biofuel research and development. Its findings have prompted the Department for Transport to take forward research in a number of areas, including improving our understanding of sustainability concerns associated with the production of biofuels and identifying any capability barriers to their deployment. Further updates on the individual projects will become available on the departments website.


(1) The Gallagher Review of the indirect effects of biofuels production. Renewable Fuels Agency, July 2008.
(2) The feasibility of reaching the 10% transport target whilst ensuring sustainability will be subject to review by the European Commission by the end of 2014.

Biofuels Research Gap Analysis (4 Mb)

This study has identified a number of research gaps for the promotion and deployment of sustainable biofuels.

22 October 2009

Published : October 2009
AND (400 page report)

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Government shaken by rebellion on Energy Bill

A cross-party group came within eight votes of passing a new green standard for power plants last night. Poor Lib Dem turnout has been blamed for stopping the measure passing.

In a sizeable rebellion, 27 Labour MPs last night voted against the government, and in favour of introducing a new green standard for power stations that would outlaw the building of the most polluting power stations like Kingsnorth.

The amendment to introduce an emissions performance standards (EPS) for power plants was narrowly defeated by just eight votes. Thirteen Lib Dem MPs, including Nick Clegg, Vince Cable and Chris Huhne did not bother to turn up. Had they done so, and voted for the measure they themselves have championed, the government would have been defeated and Parliament would have ended the era of dirty coal.

David Cameron who has been a prominent supporter of the EPS led many of his Conservative MPs through the chamber to support the new green standard – but thirty nine of his MPs did not vote either.

Among the Labour backbenchers who supported the new green measure were Alan Simpson, Jon Cruddas, and Colin Burgon, who was a prominent figure in the Leeds miner's strike in the 1980s. A few Labour MPs including Dianne Abbott, Fabian Hamilton and Austin Mitchell told climate campaigners they'd vote for the amendment but then either voted against it or abstained. Reacting to the vote, the Executive Director of Greenpeace UK, John Sauven, told Left Foot Forward:

"Yesterday's vote shows the depth of unease within the Labour party about a bill that hands billions of pounds to energy companies but fails to hold them to account. Ministers caved into lobbyists from big German utilities who claimed that this measure would scare off investment, when the evidence from places like California shows that the opposite is true. Investors want certainty. Without an emissions performance standard new power stations are subject not to a legally binding limit, but to a gentleman's agreement that leaves an uncertain future for both investors and the UK's climate targets."

Blog entry


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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Brazil Ethanol Price Falls With Harvest Imminent

Brazil Ethanol Price Falls With Harvest Imminent

Date: 24-Feb-10
Country: BRAZIL
Author: Roberto Samora

SAO PAULO - Ethanol biofuel prices at cane mills in Brazil's Sao Paulo state have been falling in the last few weeks after a steady ascent, with buyers mindful of a large harvest to begin next month and swell supplies.

The Center South, where about 90 percent of Brazil's cane is grown in the world's top ethanol exporter, is in between harvests and the next crop is anxiously awaited to allieve a global shortage that caused sugar and ethanol prices to soar.

Ethanol pumps now stand side by side with gasoline in Brazilian filling stations to power its millions of flex-fuel cars that can run on either fuel or any mix of both.

With supplies of the biofuel restricted by a rain-blighted harvest that ended late last year, the ethanol trade has been a seller's market but a dip of 10 percent in the last month shows the balance is shifting in the run up to the new crop.

"This is to do with the start of the harvest in March," said Miriam Bacchi, analyst at Cepea, a center of applied economics linked to the University of Sao Paulo.

Hydrous ethanol, which has a higher water content and is used in Brazilian flex-fuel cars, was quoted at the factory gate (before tax) at 1.07 reais ($0.59), down nearly 5 percent from 1.12 reais a week earlier.

Filling station prices remain largely unchanged however.

The price of anhydrous ethanol, the kind mixed into gasoline in Brazil and abroad, held firmer, shedding only 3 percent so far in the month of February.

The Center South's cane harvest doesn't usually get into full swing until April but it is likely to gather pace sooner this year with about 50 million tonnes of last year's cane still waiting to be cut. Heavy rain meant it was left in the fields.

© Thomson Reuters 2010 All rights reserved

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Avonmouth power plant plan refused

Biofuel power plant plan refused

Public gallery at council meeting
More than 1,100 letters of objection were received before the meeting

An application to build a biofuel power station at Avonmouth, capable of powering 25,000 homes, has been refused by city councillors.

The plant, which would had been fuelled initially by palm oil, was attacked by critics who blamed the demand for palm oil for rainforest destruction.

The meeting was told the decision had to be made according to material planning considerations, not emotions.

But councillors went against advice from planners and voted 6-2 against it.

Legal officers reminded councillors they would have to justify their reasons if the company behind the application, W4B, decides to appeal.

More than 1,100 written objections were raised before Wednesday's meeting.

The Avonmouth plant was one of several plants around the UK under consideration; one in Weymouth has already been approved.

BBC West business correspondent Dave Harvey said Bristol's decision was being closely watched as there were several similar applications for biofuel power stations around the country.

"If Bristol's decision stands then local councillors have every right to consider the international environmental issues and not just the immediate local planning questions."

Well done to everyone involved !


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Invasive Biofuel Crops an Overlooked Danger

GLAND, Switzerland, February 19, 2010 (ENS) - The risk that biofuel crops will become invasive and outcompete native species is increasing as more advanced biofuel crops are planted, according to new research into this previously neglected but potentially costly problem.


A new report by the nonprofit International Union for the Conservation of Nature, IUCN, finds it is "likely that the cost of an invasion by a biofuel feedstock or associated pest would, in the long run, outweigh any economic benefit offered by biofuel development."

"The economic costs of invasive species are extremely high," the IUCN report states, relying on a 2006 calculation by the Convention on Biological Diversity that puts the total annual cost of invasive species to the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa, India and Brazil at over US$100 billion.

Most of this cost is the result of reduced productivity of agriculture, forestry and other production systems, but direct costs include damage to infrastructure, lost tourism revenue and costs of eradication, containment and management. Indirect costs include loss of ecosystem services, as well as loss of traditional livelihoods.

In view of these costs, the IUCN outlines recommendations for decision makers and biofuel producers to minimize the risk of invasive biofuel crops.

"Current biofuel production is based on established food crops, and while this raises other sustainability concerns, the risk of invasion is not large," says Nadine McCormick, IUCN Energy Network coordinator. "However, this risk will increase exponentially as new plants that grow fast with many seeds in pretty much any land are cultivated for more advanced biofuels."

The report details how Prosopis, a group of Central and South American species that seemed ideal for second-generation biofuels, have become a major headache in other parts of the world.

Prosopis are fast growing, have low nutrient requirements and are able to access deep sub-surface water in dry areas. They are nitrogen fixing and can improve soil fertility. So, Prosopis species were introduced to Australia, Asia, and dryland Africa for fuelwood, fodder, shade, to improve soils and reduce soil erosion.

But Prosopis proved to be invasive "due to traits such as rapid growth, abundant seed production, the tendency to form impenetrable thickets, the ability to thrive in dry, saline soils, and foliage that is unpalatable to livestock," the report states.

When demand collapsed, many Prosopis plantations were abandoned without adequate management and eradication, and the thickets now cover millions of hectares in Africa, impacting grazing and traditional pastoralist livelihoods.

The dense thickets have outcompeted local species and lowered ground and stream flow levels in watersheds. Despite these negative effects, some positive benefits from Prosopis include wood and charcoal so there is often conflict over plans to control or eradicate it.

"Biological invasions from the introduced species themselves, as well as from the production processes, are real risks to biodiversity and livelihoods," says Geoffrey Howard, IUCN Global Invasive Species Coordinator. "The risks can be reduced by following the guidelines we&#65533;ve set out."

IUCN developed these guidelines through an interactive process of consulting experts from regional government, plant protection organizations, research institutions, NGOs and the private sector. The guidelines were developed following two workshops hosted by IUCN in Nairobi, Kenya and an extensive consultation.

"The most important action is prevention," says the IUCN. Biofuel crops are not, by definition, invasive but they can be, depending on the area where they are cultivated and how the crop is grown. For instance, giant reed and elephant grasses both have a history of becoming invasive in many ecosystems, so particular care needs to be taken when assessing the risk of invasion when they are introduced into a new environment.

Jatropha curcas is known to have invasive tendencies in Western Australia, but that does not necessarily mean that it will be invasive in India where it is currently being produced for biofuels.

Researchers at the Florida Native Plant Society have rung alarm bells, warning that jatropha could become an invasive species in Florida, as kudzu and melaleuca have. Scientists at the University of Florida have rejected claims that jatropha is similar to these other southern plant invaders. Still, critics of jatropha note that a predictive tool developed in Australia that has 90 percent accuracy in determining whether a plant will become uncontrollable, predicts that outcome for jatropha in Florida.

Key recommendations in the IUCN report touch on four phases of keeping biofuel crops from becoming invasive species - planning, importation, and production plus the final phase of transportation and processing.

In the planning phase, all stakeholders - governments, developers and investors - should conduct a cost-benefit analysis and environmental assessment that includes the potential costs of an invasion. These plans should include a contingency fund as insurance for any future remedial actions and a commitment from the outset to be vigilant to the invasion possibility, and take measures to prevent spread outside the project area.

In the importation phase, a robust quarantine system must be in place. Governments should strengthen their capacity to monitor and enforce phytosanitary regulations and exclude any pests associated with the biofuel plants.

In the production phase, an Environmental Management Plan audited by a neutral third party should be in place. A contingency plan should be in place in the event of an escape of a plant species or pest organism that could cause an invasion. A contingency fund to pay for eradication, containment, management, or restoration should be in place.

In the transportation and processing phase, risks of invasion should be minimized by reducing the distances that viable feedstocks are transported, and, ideally, converting feedstocks to biofuels on-site. Governments and developers should ensure adequate monitoring of transport vehicles for the presence of seeds, plant feedstock remnants and pests. And all stakeholders should promote awareness among transporters about the risks of invasive species.

These guidelines were developed by IUCN in close cooperation with the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels, a multi-stakeholder initiative that has developed a Standard for sustainable biofuel production that addresses environmental, social and economic issues.

The RSB Standard, published in November 2009, includes a set of principles and criteria, compliance indicators, guidance documents and a certification system.

Click here to read the IUCN Recommendations for preventing biofuel crops from becoming invasive species.


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UK Parliamentary question : how much biomass fuel needed and how much from UK sources

Paddy Tipping (Sherwood, Labour)

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what estimate he has made of the amount of biomass needed to fuel proposed new wood-burning power stations; and what proportion of it he expects will be from UK sources.

David Kidney (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Energy and Climate Change; Stafford, Labour)

Power stations of over 50 MW in England and Wales are subject to consent by the Secretary of State under section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989.

Biomass capacity of up to 849 MWe has been approved under the Section 36 consenting regime since 2007, which is expected to use up to 6.77 million tonnes of biomass per year when all plants are operational. There is also 1,289 MWe biomass capacity currently under consideration by the Secretary of State, which if consented would use up to a further 10.56 million tonnes of biomass per annum. Therefore, the combined total of consented and in planning biomass applications for England and Wales, of plants over 50MW, is 2,138 MWe potentially using up to 17.33 million tonnes of biomass per annum. This capacity includes both dedicated biomass power plants and combined biomass and energy-from-waste power plants.

Power stations of 50MW and under, in England and Wales, are considered by the local planning authority in the normal planning regime.

According to the UK RESTATS database, which has collected renewable energy data since 1989, dedicated biomass power capacity of up to 349.6 MWe has been consented by local planning authorities in England and Wales. This consented capacity, assuming a typical 25MW plant will use up to 0.2 million tonnes per annum, would use up to 2.80 million tonnes of biomass per year when all plants are operational. There is also a further 90.1 MWe dedicated biomass capacity under consideration, which is expected to use up to 0.72 million tonnes of biomass per annum. Therefore, the combined total of consented and in planning dedicated biomass applications for England and Wales, of plants 50MW and under, is 439.7 MWe using up to 3.52 million tonnes of biomass per annum.

It is not possible to separately identify the wood-burning capacity as most plants will have the flexibility to use a range of biomass fuels according to cost, availability and other considerations.

Robust biomass supply chains are only now becoming established across the UK and biomass fuels are increasingly traded as a global commodity. Therefore, we expect, in the short term at least, that these plants will use a significant volume of imported biomass, together with wood fuel sourced from managed UK forests and woodlands and from other sources such as the by-products of our timber industry, home grown perennial energy crops such as miscanthus grass and short rotation coppice (SRC) willow, and a range of biomass fuels derived from waste as defined under the renewables obligation.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010



Friends of the Earth International

Immediate release: February 23, 2010


Global opposition and safety concerns continue to halt biotech industry


Amsterdam / Uruguay, 23 February 2010 - On the day of the release of
annual industry-sponsored figures, a new report from Friends of the
Earth International reveals that claims made by the biotech industry
that genetically modified (GM) crops can combat climate change are both
exaggerated and premature.[1]

The report, 'Who Benefits from GM Crops?', examines the evidence for
these claims, and exposes that GM crops could actually increase carbon
emissions while failing to feed the world. This is because, GM crops are
responsible for huge increases in the use of pesticides in the US and
South America, intensifying fossil fuel use. The cultivation of GM soy
to feed factory farmed animals is also contributing to widespread
deforestation in South America, causing massive climate emissions.[2]

The report also exposes that globally GM crops remain confined to less
than 3% of agricultural land and more than 99% are grown for animal feed
and agrofuels, rather than food. There is still not a single commercial
GM crop with increased yield, drought-tolerance, salt-tolerance,
enhanced nutrition or other beneficial traits long promised by biotech

Ongoing concerns about the negative impacts of GM crops means many
Governments are still cautious about adopting them. India has placed a
moratorium on the planting of its first GM food crop due to widespread
concerns on its health, environmental and socio-economic impact. In
Europe the area planted with GM crops has declined for the 5th
consecutive year for the same reasons.

Millions are being spent by Governments on GM crops, and, promoted as a
solution to climate change, they could be funded in the future through
the UN climate emission reduction Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).

Friends of the Earth Europe GM campaigner Kirtana Chandrasekaran said,

"GM crops are being promoted as a solution to feed us in a warming
world, when in reality they are wiping out forests, damaging farmers'
livelihoods and increasing harmful emissions. Given the damaging track
record of GM crops to date, and unfulfilled promises to feed the world,
we would be well advised to disregard claims that GM crops can combat
climate change."

In South America, a cocktail of pesticides is being applied on GM soy,
which is poisoning communities and contaminating the environment. GM
crops, and the corporate control of seeds, are also hindering the
development of real solutions by starving them of funding and
restricting farmers' access to seeds and knowledge. Genetically diverse,
ecological farming and traditional knowledge have been identified key to
facing future challenges.[4]

Friends of the Earth International food coordinator Martin Drago said,

"The reality is that GM farming is not a success story. Small farmers
across the world are already using planet-friendly methods to feed
themselves and cool the planet. These methods must be supported rather
than environmentally and socially destructive GM farming."


For more information please contact:

Europe: Kirtana Chandrasekaran, GM campaigner, Friends of the Earth Europe
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7566 1669 and +44 (0) 79619 86956 (UK mobile)

Sam Fleet, Communications officer for Friends of the Earth Europe:
Tel: +32 (0) 2 893 1012 and +32 (0) 470 072 049 (Belgian Mobile)

Martin Drago GM campaigner REDES, Friends of the Earth Uruguay
Tel: (+ 5982) 9022355 - 9082730 and Uruguayan Mobile: (+ 598 99) 138559



[1] The Friends of the Earth International report is released to
coincide with the annual release of the 'Global Status of Commercialized
Biotech' report of the industry-sponsored International Service for the
Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) - which promotes GM
crops as a key solution to hunger and poverty.

'Who Benefits from GM Crops 2010?'

[2] Recent US Department of Agriculture data has shown that compared to
pesticide use in the absence of GM crops, farmers applied 318 million
more pounds of pesticides over the last 13 years as a result of planting
GM seeds. In Brazil pesticide use increased 5 fold between 1995 and
2005. In 2008, GM crops in the US required over 26% more kilograms of
pesticides per hectare than conventional varieties. In Argentina, more
than two hundred thousand hectares of native forest disappear every
year, mainly due to the expansion of GM soy plantations.

[3] 99% of biotech agriculture consists of four crops with just two
traits, herbicide-tolerance and/or insect-resistance. The vast majority
of GM crops in the pipeline are also herbicide tolerant or insect
resistant crops.

For more info see FoEI, 2009, 'Killing Fields',

[4] UNEP, 2008 Organic Agriculture and Food Security in Africa. See

IAASTD, 2008 Agriculture at a Crossroads Key finding 7. See




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México: Violent evictions in Chiapas for establishing oil palm monocultures

from World Rainforest Movement Bulletin, February 2010,

México: Violent evictions in Chiapas for establishing oil palm monocultures

What follows is a communiqué from the Latin American Network against Monoculture Tree Plantations (RECOMA) reporting on the violent situation that local communities and Indigenous Peoples of the Lacandona forest in Chiapas are presently going through.

"Appeal to international solidarity to protect the Lacandona Forest in Chiapas (Mexico), February 2010.

The Latin American Network against Monoculture Tree Plantations (RECOMA) is hereby denouncing the arbitrary treatment suffered by various communities in the Lacandona forest, in the area declared as the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve, in the State of Chiapas, Mexico.

Last January, the Chiapas State Congress approved funding for the construction of a palm oil processing plant. Shortly afterwards, dozens of families from the Municipality of Ocosingo were evicted from their territory, in order to give way for the expansion of monoculture oil palm plantations.

Dozens of heavily armed police arrived in helicopters and with aggressive violence evicted men, women and children from their homes, which they then burnt down and with no explanation, removed the community to the city of Palenque.

While the government talks about conservation and protection of the zone, it evicts those who have been truly responsible for making this conservation possible. At the same time, it replaces local ecosystems by oil palm monocultures.

Oil palm plantations are being promoted under an "ecological" mask, as if the production of agrofuels based on palm oil could be a solution to climate change. Apart from the falsehood of these affirmations, no mention is made of the serious negative impacts they generate such as violation of the local population and indigenous peoples' human rights, as is presently the case in Chiapas.

Furthermore, monoculture oil palm plantations are one of the main causes of deforestation and therefore contribute to worsen climate change through the release of carbon stored in the forests, destroying the means of subsistence and food sovereignty of millions of small farmers, indigenous people and other communities, and generating serious negative environmental impacts. The plantations require agrochemicals that poison the workers and local communities and contaminate soil and water. Monoculture oil palm plantations eliminate biodiversity and deplete fresh water sources.

In sum, monoculture plantations for the production of paper and agrofuels (such as in the case of oil palm) worsen the living conditions and opportunities for survival of the local population and are only beneficial to a small handful of companies that become rich at the expense of social and environmental destruction.

For this reason, we are appealing to the international community to condemn the plans for the expansion of monoculture oil palm plantations in Mexico, denouncing this situation by all means at your disposal. We also appeal to you to join and participate actively in the forthcoming Montes Azules Social Forum, in defence of the right to life and to the territory (, to be held on 5 and 6 March in the Ejido Candelaria, Municipio de Ocosingo, Chiapas, in the heart of the Montes Azules".


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Oil palm plantations defined as 'forets'

from World Rainforest Movement Bulletin, February 2010,

Hiding monoculture oil palm plantations under a business-friendly "forest" definition

An article published on the website (1) informs that "a draft commission communication offering guidance to EU member states on the use of biofuels has classified palm oil plantations - the source of one of the most destructive forms of biofuels - as "forests." Essentially, the document argues that because palm oil plantations are tall enough and shady enough, they count as forests."

The article quotes the document: "Continuously forested areas are defined as areas where trees have reached, or can reach, at least heights of five metres, making up a crown cover of more than 30 percent." "They would normally include forest, forest plantations and other tree plantations such as palm oil." "This means, for example, that a change from forest to oil palm plantation would not per se constitute a breach of the ."

The above is the successful outcome of the intense lobbying campaign on the EU Commission carried out by Malaysian producers – through GPlus, the international lobbying outfit hired by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council. At the same time, it serves well the purposes of the EU, that last year passed the EU Renewable Energy Directive, which requires EU member states to source 10 per cent of transport fuels from renewable sources, much of which will certainly come from monoculture oil palm plantations. Defining those plantations as "forests" will assist in greenwashing their social and environmental impacts.

Indonesia, the world's top producer of palm oil has swiftly seized the opportunity for defining its destructive oil palm plantations as "forests". On 16 February, the Jakarta Post informed that "the Forestry Ministry is drafting a decree to include oil palm plantations in the forest sector to comply with international standards in mitigating climate change." The head of research and development at the ministry, Tachrir Fathoni, said that "by definition, oil palm plantations will be defined as forest", arguing that "many countries such as Malaysia, the world's second biggest palm oil producer after Indonesia, had included oil palm plantations in its forest sector."

Although defining industrial monocultures of an alien species as "forest" is scientifically absurd, it makes much economic sense, as Tachrir Fathoni explains: "By doing so, Malaysia can reap financial incentives from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) of carbon trade." He said that the UN only categorized trees with a certain height as forest trees, without identifying their species and that this move "is to anticipate the implementation of the REDD scheme". Under REDD (Reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation) countries with extensive "forest cover" can receive financial benefits by stopping deforestation. Which means that Indonesia will be financially rewarded for destroying its tropical forests as long as they substitute them with oil palm "forests"!

All this absurd situation serves at least to strengthen the position of the many organizations that have for years been challenging the FAO's definition of forest, that includes plantations as such. International processes such as UNFCCC have uncritically accepted the FAO definition, thus leading to absurd situations such as the one now being exposed.

At the same time, we hope that the leaked document will lead to organized opposition in Europe against such definition by the EU, which if adopted will help to accelerate forest destruction, not only in Indonesia and Malaysia, but throughout the entire South.

Oil palm plantations are not forests!

(1) "Palm oil plantations are now 'forests,' says EU", by Leigh Phillips,


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Monday, February 22, 2010

3 palm oil-related reports on Mongabay

REDD payments may not entice developers over palm oil
(02/22/2010) In less than a generation oil palm cultivation has emerged as a leading form of land use in tropical forests, especially in Southeast Asia. Rising global demand for edible oils, coupled with the crop's high yield, has turned palm oil into an economic juggernaut, generating us$ 10 billion in exports for Indonesia and Malaysia, which account for 85 percent of palm oil production, alone. Today more than 40 countries - led by China, India, and Europe - import crude palm oil.

Indonesia to target New Guinea for agricultural expansion
(02/22/2010) Indonesia will target its last frontier — its territory on New Guinea — as it seeks to become a major agricultural exporter, reports the AFP

Illegal loggers hit community reforestation project in Indonesia, spurring questions about REDD
(02/22/2010) Illegal loggers are targeting community-managed forests in South Sumatra, renewing questions over forestry governance and law enforcement as the Indonesia prepares to capitalize on payments for conservation and reforestation under a proposed climate change mitigation mechanism known as REDD, reports theJakarta Press

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WWF loyal ally to global Agri-biz

xcuse x postings


By Javiera Rulli
Geneva, 12 February 2010

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) seems to have become a sort of environmental secretariat for agribusiness companies, as it is playing an increasingly dubious role in greenwashing the operations of global agribusiness.  

WWF is leading Round Tables on the so-called "sustainable" production of some of the most damaging global agricultural monocultures. The most controversial case is the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS),[1] which includes corporations such as Monsanto, Syngenta, Cargill, Bunge and ADM among its members. The RTRS has approved GM soy as sustainable according to their own criteria. A mega-greenwashing operation is underway to cover up the environmental and social destruction caused by soy production in South America; impacts include deforestation, environmental pollution and poisoning of people. WWF has also ignored numerous accounts of Human Rights violations, perpetrated by agribusinesses in order to preserve High Conservation Value Areas (HCVA). WWF has integrated itself in the main lobby groups of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to promote the privatization of the world's remaining forests and to encourage the role of meaningless environmental certification.

The soy producers' demand to be compensated for producing 'responsible' soy became clear at the fourth RTRS Conference in May 2009. At the same time, however, it is unclear who will be willing to pay a premium price for this product on the world market. Therefore, during the final speech of the event, WWF proposed to open compensatory mechanisms and carbon markets for soy agribusiness.

The speech was given by Jason Clay, Director of WWF's marketing department and the WWF-US Vice President. Clay is an enthusiast of market-based mechanisms to tackle environmental problems and a fervent promoter of agrofuels. He views the carbon market as an opportunity for agribusiness. In the climate negotiations, Clay promotes the inclusion of RTRS-certified soy through two possible financial mechanisms: the REDD[2] mechanisms, which make it possible for soy producers to potentially be rewarded for maintaining a certain area of their land in forest, or access to carbon credits for agricultural practices that could be considered to be "carbon-conserving".

In June 2009, in a press release from the Round Table for Responsible Soy, Jason Clay said:

"The challenge now is to find mechanisms to reward producers who protect forest and soil by allowing them to sell carbon alongside with their soy. This is a win-win-win situation. Forest and soil are protected, producers have an additional source of income and retailers and brands can now buy responsible soy as a way to reduce their carbon footprint. Preliminary calculations suggest that producers in forest areas can net more income selling carbon than soy. This fundamentally change soy and makes it a new kind of commodity."[3]

A recent report from Utrecht University reveals that the operation is to obtain carbon credits for soy. According to Clay this is the way to preserve the viability of the RTRS. He maintains that at present, there are neither large incentives nor direct benefits for agribusiness to meet the RTRS criteria. The main producers are not willing to improve their practices unless they obtain a substantial economic reward. For consumers, soy production remains an invisible process, whereas for producers it represents big markets and earnings. From the economic perspective, the RTRS is at a breaking point because corporations are not seriously committed to sustainability, in other words they are not willing to pay for it. At present, soy agribusiness is not really interested in the RTRS since they have realized that there are currently no media campaigns that could affect the market. For this reason APROSOJA, one of the main Brazilian soy producers platform, abandoned the RTRS at its fourth

The concrete proposal from WWF is for the RTRS to support soy producers to gain access to international carbon credit markets according to the area of preserved forest. This would mean soy could be sold alongside carbon credits at an average of 5-10 US dollars per ton.[6] In the North, companies could continue buying soy while reducing their need for pollution permits.

According to Jason Clay, WWF needs to demonstrate to large producers the direct benefits of remaining in the RTRS. That might even convince APROSOJA to return to the Round Table.[7] For WWF it does not seem to be of any importance that this system might provide an extra spur for soy expansion. WWF’s priority is to get a hold of any forest remnants that could qualify as having a High Conservation Value Area, or manage the conservation of the private forest remnants left by soy producers. Through this greenwashing, however, agribusiness could financially benefit through the privatization of the last forest remnants while promoting the eviction of indigenous and peasant communities.

Simultaneously, under the remit of "Conservation Agriculture", agribusiness corporations are strongly lobbying at the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and UNFCCC (United Nations Framework on Climate Change Convention) to obtain carbon credits for the large-scale production of herbicide-resistant crops using the 'no-till' technique. The RTRS sustainability criteria, in this case, could become the basis for future methodologies under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and/or member organizations could even issue national certificates.[8]

Under this supposed conservation management, credits are promoted for No-Till,[9] which is a fundamental part of the transgenic soy biotechnological package. The Argentine Association of No-Till Producers (AAPRESID) has introduced new policies and launched a program on Certified Agriculture, which could become a national certification scheme under the CDM. Although AAPRESID is member of the RTRS, it seems to have gone its own way based on the same scheme of certification.

One specific CDM methodology involving soy monoculture has already been approved. The project involves soy seed inoculation with nitrogen fixing bacteria to decrease the use of fertilizers. This project was developed by Becker Underwood, which has already established an alliance with Monsanto for production and commercialisation of this kind of bacteria.

In the meantime, Monsanto has already been lobbying for the inclusion of a carbon market for agriculture and direct seeding under the new US law on climate. In addition, last year Monsanto's Conservation Technology Information Centre (CTIC),[10] together with FAO and with the technological backing of the UNFCC, organised a Conservation Agriculture Carbon Offset Consultation in the US.[11]

In the lobby for conservation agriculture, pro no-till, WWF and Jason Clay can once again be found on the platform on Climate Change, Agriculture and Trade of the ICTSD (the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development[12]) and the IPC (the International Food and Agricultural Trade Policy Council). Since 2008, Clay, has been representing the WWF in the exclusive member list of the IPC.[13] The IPC is a strong lobby group at the World Trade Organisation and is essentially controlled by Cargill, Monsanto, Bunge and ADM.

In October 2009 the ICTSD-IPC platform published a series of recommendations for the upcoming 7th WTO Ministerial and the United Nations climate change conference. The report, in general terms, proposes: concluding the Doha Round, intensifying food production using new technologies, conservation agriculture and the carbon market as the principal means of adaptation to climate change: "Both conservation agriculture and novel technologies can reduce reliance on fossil fuels as well as improve our ability to take carbon out of the air and literally bury it in the ground--all while increasing agricultural output."[14]

One of the main preoccupations of the report is to avoid any international agreements on climate change interfering with the framework on free trade and the WTO principles. According to the report both levels have to be coherent. It also points out that trade liberalisation is an ecological measure as it: "could improve the product flow from regions that produce low carbon emission food to regions where those emissions are higher."[15]

The IPC is quite influential and has been denounced in the past as one of the bodies calling for WTO action against the European moratorium on GMOs. It was also a key actor in the weakening of the Convention on Biodiversity, which saw the Biosafety Protocol subordinated to the WTO.[16] Despite this, we read with surprise on its webpage that WWF is even one of its financial supporters.[17]  

WWF support for GM is becoming increasingly apparent. Since August 2009 it has been involved in the "Global Harvest Initiative" dialogue, organised by corporations such as Monsanto, Du Pont and ADM. This is a marketing campaign to support biotechnological development. WWF and Conservation International are amongst their participants. In the conference that launched the campaign, Clay gave a presentation on "sustainability and the capacity to feed the world."[18]

Last September WWF Denmark established an alliance with the corporation Novozymes entitled "Coming together in the Biological Initiative - eliminating the first billon tones of CO2".[19] Novozymes, an industrial leader in biotechnology, specializes in enzymes and bacteria. The brand strongly promotes the development of second generation agrofuels. Previously, WWF Denmark published a paper on the "Reduction of Green House Gas Effect" (GHG) based on calculations from the Novozymes team. The report essentially promotes "white biotechnology",[20] bioeconomics[21] and the new industrial concept of biorefinery.[22] All of them essentially imply the use of transgenics (in form of cells and enzymes) for industry and energy production.[23] Another document revealing WWF's collaboration with Novozymes at the climate summit is also mentioned. This document is the agenda of Europabio, the largest lobby group on biotechnology in Europe.[24] Clay has publicly made clear that he is in favour of
second generation agrofuels, such as cellulosic ethanol.[25]

The RTRS fourth conference approved GM soy as eligible under its sustainability criteria. This appeared to dismiss concerns about pesticides, with approval given for pesticide spraying just 30 m. from people (200m. in the case of aerial spraying). Furthermore, the criteria on deforestation are not restrictive - responsible soy was permitted in deforested areas until May 2009. Even fields cleared later in forest areas can qualify if they are not considered as High Value Conservation Areas.[26]
RTRS criteria are designed by its somewhat -surprising members - controversial corporations such as Unilever, Monsanto, Syngenta, Cargill, Bunge, Carrefour, ADM, BP and IFC, a World Bank branch, and many other transnational corporations. Also South America’s main soy producers participate in the RTRS. Grupo Los Grobo from Argentina possesses land all over South America. The Maggi Group, owned by the ex governor of Matto Grosso, is the largest soy producer in the world, and he is the head of an important economical and political Brazilian clan. Another selected member is AAPRESID, an Argentine institution of technicians and producers backed by Monsanto.[27]

The only conservation NGOs participating in RTRS are The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International and the South American branches of WWF and Birdlife. Most other environmental NGOs and social organisations, particularly those from the South, have rejected the RTRS from the very beginning. The RTRS was denounced as a greenwashing initiative to legitimise the expansion of the soy model.[28]

Earlier information reveals the WWF framework of action. Officially it adheres to the precautionary principles on GMOs but its practices are obviously completely the opposite. At present it is promoting GMOs. This hypocritical behaviour has confounded people and also some of the local offices within its own organisation. It must be pointed out that WWF works very carefully on its marketing strategy towards its members.    Many members, however, are not aware of the organisation’s actions at the international level and their engagement with business. Neither can they access or influence the game of international politics that WWF’s International is playing.

There is no doubt about WWF's complicity with the corporate web. Their acts cannot be justified; they are not merely a strategy based on narrow views and conservation. The WWF alliances with industry have converted the organisation into part and parcel of the corporate lobby. With the WWF being the leading expert on environmental issues in the international arena, the result is that critical voices from the South and North, from ecologists and social movements to scientific organisations, are finding it increasingly difficult to make their denunciations and present alternatives. The Panda figure has become a loyal servant directing the symphony of environmentalism, in order to serve the economic model of globalization by giving it an appearance of sustainability. The time has come for somebody to unmask the organisation’s dirty business and for WWF to be the object of the popular reproach it deserves.

Original version in Spanish published in 2009-12-06:
WWF, siervo del Agronegocio y de la Globalización.


2. Reduction of  Emissions Derived from Deforestation and Forest Degradation
4. APROSOJA approximately produces 25% of Brazil annual harvest
5. Nikoloyuk, J.2009 "Sustainability Partnership in Agro-Commodity Chain: A model of partnership development in the tea, palm oil and soy sectors." Utrecht-Nijmegen Programme on Partnership.
6. Ibid.
7. Ibid.
8. hptt://
9. No-till is a farming practice which does not require the soil to be tilled or prepared. During planting, seeds are literally drilled into the soil. The combination of RR soy and direct seeding has been a commercial success. The mechanical clearing is replaced by chemical clearing with the herbicide "glyphosate". In direct seeding the use of herbicides is indispensable, and it would be more accurately known as "Chemical Direct Seeding".
10. The CTIC is a centre for agricultural investigation whose council is made up of members from the corporations Monsanto, John Deere, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Fertilizer Institute, Syngenta and CropLife America.
12. International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development.
17. The IPC was created in 1987 with the explicit aim of ensuring that the GATT agricultural rules of the WTO would be approved at Uruguay Round. IPC demands the elimination of developing country tariff barriers and maintains a neutral position towards the massive US subsidies to agribusiness. In fact, the North American giants Cargill, Monsanto, Bunge and ADM manage IPC and their interests are the same as those of the WTO principles which they drafted for their own benefit.
19. Coming together in the Bio solutions Initiative – Eliminating the first billion tons of CO2.
20. "White technology” refers in general to GMOs in the form of bacteria or enzymes, which are used at laboratories in industrial processes.
21. "Bio economy" means "an economy that uses removable prime materials, particularly biomass and its genes, to elaborate products and energy.
22. "Bio refinery" implies an industry that integrates various convert processes to transform transport fuel (ethanol or biodiesel) into high value chemical products.    It is a concept homologous to petrochemical refineries.

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Environment Agency - ROCs for palm oil electricity are wrong

Electricity generation from palm oil: The Environment Agency's view

Key messages

Biomass heat and power could play an important role in helping the UK meet its renewable energy and greenhouse gas commitments if it is produced sustainably and used efficiently. We do not, however, believe that the use of palm oil for electricity generation should be supported through the Renewables Obligation because:

· Lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emission savings compared to fossil fuels (e.g. a combined cycle gas turbine) can be minimal, and if land use change is caused directly or indirectly there is a net increase in emissions.

· Using solid biomass for electricity generation typically produces much bigger greenhouse gas savings, and is therefore preferable.

· Biofuels that are genuinely sustainable, such as waste oils, should be used in sectors where alternatives to fossil fuels are limited, such as heavy haulage and aviation.

· The environmental concerns surrounding the use of palm oil for electricity generation risk damaging the reputation of the wider bioenergy sector.

Palm oil is a highly unsaturated vegetable oil, used widely in many food and non-food applications, such as soap and oleo chemicals, and as a feedstock for biodiesel. It is produced by crushing fresh fruit branches from the African oil palm tree. This produces crude palm oil, which is then fractionated into a lighter liquid fraction called palm oil olein, which is used to produce biodiesel, and a heavier more viscous fraction called palm oil stearin.

Recently there have been a number of proposals in the UK to use palm oil as a fuel for power plants and it is likely that these would use reciprocating engines run on either palm oil stearin or crude palm oil. The Environment Agency therefore commissioned work to understand the lifecycle GHG emissions from the production of power in these plants. The results are based on the default values and methodology set out in the Renewable Fuels Agency Guidance on carbon calculations for biofuels.


Excluding emissions from land use change, using palm oil stearin can result in greenhouse gas emissions savings of around 25-50 per cent compared to the generation of electricity in a natural gas-fired power station. Using crude palm oil results in emissions savings of 0-35 per cent.

If the palm oil plantation supplying the oil has been developed on land which was originally forested, then clearance of that forest will lead to a large carbon release. For example, if palm oil stearin has been produced from plantations that were formerly forested land, greenhouse gas emissions from electricity production would be about three and a half times higher than those associated with a natural gas-fired power station.


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