Wednesday, March 31, 2010

UK Parliament: key recent answers on palm oil and biofuels

29 Mar 2010 : Column 736W...

Indonesia: Climate Change

Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what conditions are attached to the £50 million funding to Indonesia announced in Davos on 29 January 2010 to help fight climate change by tackling deforestation; and what steps his Department is taking to ensure that these funds are not used by the palm oil industry. [324629]

Mr. Thomas: None of the £50 million will go to oil palm companies. DFID hopes to build on work the UK has begun with the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to agree credible environmental production standards and to secure their use by both producers and buyers. This could involve funding the RSPO itself, academic institutions supporting it and associated NGO networks. DFID expects that most of the funding will support programmes managed by organisations such as the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme, Oxfam, Transparency International and local non-government organisations who have rigorous auditing and accounting procedures and employ anti-corruption safeguards.


29 Mar 2010 : Column 623W...

UK-Indonesia Working Group on Environment and Climate Change

Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how many times the UK-Indonesia Working Group on Environment and Climate Change announced in Poznan in December 2008 has met; what the membership of the working group is; and what the outcomes of the working group have been to date. [324631]

Joan Ruddock: The UK-Indonesia Working Group on Environment and Climate Change had its first meeting in June 2009. The second meeting will be held in July 2010.

The core members of the working group are DECC, DEFRA and the Indonesian Ministry of Environment as the co-signatories of the Memorandum of Understanding. Representatives from other Government Departments and agencies from both the UK and Indonesia participate in meetings as appropriate.

Outcomes of the working group to date include the exchange of information on the EU renewable energy directive; carbon capture and storage; sustainable palm oil; and forestry and land use issues. Under the bilateral agreement between the UK and Indonesia the UK also funded two Indonesian negotiators' attendance at the June 2009 UNFCCC Intersessional and COP 15 in Copenhagen. In March this year we hosted a two-week placement for an Indonesian Government official at DECC and DEFRA.

22 Mar 2010 : Column 137W...


Graham Stringer: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what sustainability criteria will apply to the use of B30K oil in domestic boilers. [322831]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Renewable Energy Directive, published in 2009, includes sustainability criteria that bioliquids used for heat and electricity generation must meet in order to receive financial support and to count towards the directive's renewable energy targets. The criteria include a requirement for a minimum greenhouse gas savings threshold of 35 per cent., rising to 50 per 
22 Mar 2010 : Column 139W
cent. in 2017, and 60 per cent. in 2018 for new installations starting production from 2017; and controls over land use change to protect land important on biodiversity or carbon grounds, such as primary forest, wetlands and peatlands. In light of this, the Department of Energy and Climate Change will make an announcement later this month, setting out what actions the Government can take to introduce sustainability standards for biomass in the UK.


22 Mar 2010 : Column WA241...

Energy: Palm Oil


Asked by The Earl of Selborne

    To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have assessed the relative greenhouse gas emissions of palm oil and diesel fuel used in road transport; and, if so, what are the results of their assessment. [HL2814]

22 Mar 2010 : Column WA242...

The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): The Renewable Fuels Agency's lifecycle analysis compares the direct emissions of biofuels with equal quantities of fossil fuels. This analysis shows that biodiesel derived from palm oil delivers a 46 per cent carbon saving compared to fossil diesel. The carbon savings are based on common practice from specific feedstocks and processes. Current blending limits allow suppliers of fuel to blend up to 7 per cent biodiesel with fossil fuel to meet their obligation under the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation.


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10 Downing Street petition to get palm oil declared on products

Not sure if you already know or not, but someone set this petition up

To make it compulsary for manufacturers to have palm oil clearly laballed.

"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to make it compulsory for companies to label 'palm oil' clearly in their ingredients".

More details:

Currently, far too many companies are labelling 'palm oil' under complicated, unrelated names or simply as 'vegetable oil'. This leaves the customer with no freedom of choice as they simply do not know what they are purchasing.

People should have a right to cut out non-sustainable palm oil from their lives if they so wish. Currently, this is impossible due to misleading labelling.

Prime Minister, please make it compulsory for companies to label palm oil clearly and differentiate between whether it is 'sustainable' or 'non-sustainable'.

This is for the sake of the endangered orang-utan and all other rainforest inhabitants, including people, whose homes are being destroyed as a direct result of deforestation.

Their rainforest homes are being ripped down to clear space for oil palm plantations. This has to stop if these animals have any chance of survival.

Deforestation is also a huge contributor of carbon emissions, so not only is it destroying the home of those who inhabit the rainforest, it is also destroying our home...Earth.


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IASC 2011: Extension of Deadline for submission of abstracts [1 Attachment]

Sustaining Commons: Sustaining our Future


IASC 2011 Second Announcement:

Deadline for Abstract submission extended till 15th April 2010!



Dr. Ostrom to address the plenary at IASC 2011!


We are very pleased to share with you that Dr. Elinor Ostrom, Founding President of IASC and 2009 Economics Nobel Laureate, has agreed to address the plenary at IASC 2011 in Hyderabad. Upon accepting our invitation to speak, Ostrom wrote, "I am looking forward to the meetings with considerable enthusiasm."



Call for Abstracts:


Owing to a great amount of interest generated regards IASC 2011 from various prospective participants and in order to accommodate requests for extending the time for submission, the deadline for submission has now been extended till 15th April 2010.


For the first time, abstracts to the IASC Conference are being accepted through the online submission process. All interested participants are invited to submit abstracts for presentation of papers, posters, videos or for panel sessions, symposia or workshops focused on specific issues through the online conference system. Papers may address theory, policy, practical work, empirical research, describe case studies or any aspect of issues of commons listed below (indicative subthemes):


  • The Commons, Poverty and Social Exclusion
  • Governance of the Commons: Decentralization, Property Rights, Legal Framework, Structure and Organization
  • The Commons: Theory, Analytics and Data
  • Globalisation, Commercialization and the Commons
  • Managing the Global Commons: Climate Change and other Challenges
  • Managing Complex Commons (Lagoons, Protected Areas, Wetlands, Mountain Areas, Rangelands, Coastal Commons)
  • New Commons (the New Global Commons – Digital Commons, Genetic Commons, Patents, Music, Literature etc)




Submission of Paper, Video and Poster abstracts[1]


Making an online submission would require the author/s to follow the online submission system. All submissions must include the mandatory information as indicated in the online format. Should you face any specific problem related to the online submission process, do let us know at Guidance on full paper, poster and video submission will be provided to authors on acceptance of abstracts.


For assistance on the submission process, visit:



Paper Abstract Guidelines


Word Limit: 100-300 words. Identify the Conference Sub-Themes the abstract is relevant to (academic reviewers of your abstract will be assigned based on the sub-theme you indicate); provide a title for the abstract/paper; names and contact information for all contributing authors; 5 keywords (i.e. describing methods, region of study, etc). Note: Final paper should be between 6,000-10,000 words.

Poster Abstract Guidelines


Word Limit: 100-300 words. Identify the theme or provide a title for your poster; indicate if your poster will present a project, conceptual work, or results from an empirical study, etc. In your abstract, you may include key elements of the script of your poster.


Note: Practitioners are strongly encouraged to submit poster abstracts, and the profile of posters will be elevated at the IASC 2011 Conference, to successfully "bring a practitioner perspective to the Conference."



Video Abstract Guidelines

Word Limit 100-300 words. Indicate the title of the video, run-time of the video, original format of the video, equipment needs for showing the video, production credits, date the film was produced and description of its original purpose if not created for this Conference itself, the contact details for the corresponding presenter. The online process allows users to upload links to their videos as supplementary files along with their abstracts. Interested participants are requested to post hard copies of their videos to the mail address mentioned below:

Foundation for Ecological Security

PB No. 29, Anand - 388001, India

Tel: 02692-261402/261238/261239

Submission of Panel abstracts

Panel sessions

We encourage the submission of proposals for organizing panels focused on a specific theme or topic. A panel session may have 4-5 papers focused on a central theme. A total time of about an hour and a half is allocated to each panel presentation. It is up to the organizer of the panel to determine how to fill those hours (in terms of number of speakers, etc.). However, time for questions from the audience and discussion needs to be considered. 


A panel submission would need an identified organizer/coordinator, an abstract summarizing the aims of the panel session and how each paper will contribute to the overall aim (abstracts should be a maximum of 500 words and include names and affiliations of the organizer and individual presenters) and planned outcomes (if any).

Authors of individual papers that constitute a particular panel are requested to make individual submissions into the online conference system as well, and enter a note stating that they are also part of a proposed panel for IASC2011, along with details of the Title and Panel Organizer of that particular panel/s, in the space provided under 'Comments to Co-chair' within the online abstract submission form.

Workshops, Symposia, Pre-Conference Workshops

We encourage a range of alternative activities such as workshops, symposia and pre-conference workshops as part of/build up to the Conference. Please note that the proposals for organizing workshops, symposia and pre-conference workshops would need to be presented as abstracts (of maximum 500 words) outlining the ideas and/or aims and emailed directly to



·   Call for Abstracts: December 14, 2009

·   Abstract Submissions: February 1, 2010 to April 15, 2010 – Open Now

·   Abstract Selections: May 31, 2010

·   Early Registration: September 30, 2010

·   Complete Paper Submissions: October 31, 2010



Jagdeesh Rao Puppala, Conference Co-Chair

Foundation for Ecological Security

PB No. 29, Anand - 388001, India 

Tel: (+91) 2692-261402 / 261238 / 261239 


1.     Website:

[1] Submission of abstracts is open to all and not restricted to members of the International Association for the Study of the Commons (IASC).

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Warning issued over invasive biofuel crops

Release date: 16 Mar 2010

The Standing Committee of the Bern Convention (the Council of Europe Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats), has adopted a new recommendation for biofuels. The recommendation, which is legally binding to member states, states that biofuel crops of species which are already recognised as invasive in the proposed planting region should be avoided.

This has come after the Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA) - an agency led by the Italian Ministry for the Environment - submitted a report to the Bern Convention which warned that some biofuels crops invade disturbed areas outside cultivated fields and in doing so can impact on native biodiversity.

In response to this report, the Bern Convention published Recommendation 141, 2009 in November 2009.

The recommendation says that as it is aware that some rural development plans contemplate the use of species which are already invasive in different regions of Europe, the Bern Convention recommends that observer states should:

* Screen new species and genotypes to be used as biofuel crops for invasiveness, carrying out the necessary risk assessments, including risk analysis of cross-pollination with wild relatives and habitat vulnerability;
* Monitor for possible spread of biofuel crops into natural habitats and their effects on species and habitats protected under the Convention;
* Wherever the species used as biofuel crop is proved to escape cultivation and have an effect on the natural environment, introduce appropriate mitigation measures to minimise its spread and impact on native biological diversity.

In the ISPRA report that prompted these measures, the agency drew attention to the fact that sustainable development and environmental benefits can only be jointly achieved when biofuel crops are farmed in an environmentally sustainable manner.

According to ISPRA, it is important to bring in pre-cultivation screening for each proposed genotype and region and in addition, new cultivation criteria to limit the dispersal and recruitment capacity of the invasive crops need to be introduced. The report claimed that without these measures, escaped biofuel crops may cause loss of native biodiversity and farmland functionality.

It also said that in the long-term, biofuel crops with invasive traits need to be limited in number and extent, even if it affects finances.

These points have been adopted in the Bern Convention's recommendation and the Convention claims that complying with them will conserve Europe 's wild flora and fauna (plants and wildlife) and their natural habitats, while producing sustainable energy allowing European states to reach renewable policy targets.


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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Action Aid biofuels blog : Wheat Biofuels, Laughing Gas and Fizzy Drinks

Wheat Biofuels, Laughing Gas and Fizzy Drinks
29 March 2010 


Andrew BoswellAndrew Boswell, Leader of the Green Party group of councillors on Norfolk County Council, Parliamentary Candidate for North Norfolk in the forthcoming general election and long-term biofuels campaigner. 

This morning, as I baked a family loaf, I wondered what EU plans to divert millions tonnes of wheat for ethanol production (see chart below taken from this report) would have on many worldwide who depend on wheat as their staple commodity. 












 Just in UK alone, the HGCA  identified planned ethanol production by end of next year requiring over 6mT of wheat  or 12 billion of those family loaves.  

The UK has been exporting just 1mT of wheat from its average national wheat crop of 15mT over the last five years .  No wonder, The Times pointed out last autumn  that the UK is heading for a wheat deficit, starting this year, as a new ethanol plant of Teesside starts consuming 1.2 mT of wheat annually. 

When the first cargo from this Ensus/Shell plant left Teeside headed for the Netherlands earlier this month Shell UK chairman said it was good for UK 'balance of payments'.  Say that again!  

The Government and companies have justified using UK wheat to 'reduce' emissions here in the UK, and now the company is busy exporting the biofuels.  The UK taxpayers subsidise biofuel corporations by over £500million a year via the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO).  This corporate dip into taxpayer pockets is scandulous, as is the pressure that this diversion of food for fuel places on both UK and global food security. 

Just look at to see how much land worldwide is being grabbed by rich nations to grow wheat whilst, here in the UK, we are starting to turn it into fuel big time. However, the real scams start in creative greenhouse gas (GHG) accountancy.   Wheat ethanol production creates so much GHGs that it is very doubtful whether it really saves anything over burning petrol, but it has to be seen to do so to benefit from the RTFO. 

So …DoDGy offset: DDGS   is an animal feed by-product - the new plant at Teeside will produce 350,000 tonnes annually.  The RTFO allows the producer to subtract the emissions that would have been used to make DDGS elsewhere –the DoDGy offset.  DDGS comes with animal welfare and serious environmental downsides. And, anyway, with intensive livestock production being a major source of GHGs, should we accept the Government incentivising more and more animal feed production?  

Fizzy Drink offset: CO2 is produced from the ethanol refining process itself at the new Teeside plant. It is being trapped for use in the UK food and beverage market, from which it will eventually go into the atmosphere producing lasting climate damage.  Yet UK Transport Ministers have confirmed that CO2 capture (for any use) at a biofuel plant'can be offset from a biofuel's carbon intensity' – the fizzy offset.  

Laughing Gas scam: As one of the authors of an important recent paper, Professor Keith Smith spoke at the ActionAid UK's Nig Biofuels Debate about how the generation of nitrous oxide (N2O), or laughing gas, in the biofuel production has been underestimated.  With N2O, 296 times more powerful than CO2 as a GHG, small amounts make a big difference.  The scam here is that the Government continue to use the old figures for the RTFO, years after the issue was first highlighted by nobel prizewinning chemist Paul Crutzen

So the RTFO methodology goes something like: 'Laughing Gas scam + DoDGy offset + Fizzy offset = positive GHGs = positive profits'.

Even using the old N2O figures, the DoDGy and fizzy offsets are needed to get a GHG balance that can attract RTFO credits.  

These new refineries make a mockery of the Government's climate change policy – poor methodology violates any environmental credentials.  It's known within the industry that industrial wheat production needs lots of fertilizer and there is very limited scope for reduction in the nitrogen used.  Yet, the Government have hidden their head in the sand, ignoring the issue in drawing up the RTFO methodology, and in the Gallagher review.  When pressed recently on N2O, ministers ducked the issues raised by Prof Smith's paper referring blandly to 'uncertainties in the science'  and on-going research.  

They should face up to the fact that this industry is not good environmentally and disastrous for food security, and stop subsidising it by repealing the RTFO and other biofuel legislation.

Andrew Boswell is the Leader of the Green Party group of councillors on Norfolk County Council and a Parliamentary Candidate for North Norfolk in the forthcoming general election.  He has campaigned on biofuels since 2004 including working closely with

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Monday, March 29, 2010

US military and biofuels

Send the Marines: 17 Steps the US military is taking to advance, use, and advocate for biofuels

What is a US President to do in an era where Congress is stymied, budget deficits have limited the power of the US public purse, and an economic meltdown has limited the power of project finance and private money?
As Tom Lehrer wrote in 1965, "When someone makes a move / Of which we don't approve,_Who is it that always intervenes?/ U.N. and O.A.S. / They have their place, I guess / But first send the Marines!"

Indeed, both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama have done so, orchestrating a sweeping revamp of energy strategy at the Department of Defense - where a new generation of leaders cite benefits such as these when they tout the features of biofuels:

1. Saving lives - as many as one in six military casualties occur in the delivery ugh supplies - of which the most dangerous is fuel.

2. Reducing the complexity and length of supply lines. Fuel and waste disposal create a tremendous burden of risk, cost and hassle on the military - trucks, ships, rail and more are utilized in fuel delivery to bases as well as forward areas, and military officials have cited the
cost of fuel delivered to the battlefield as high as $418 per gallon. Bioenergy - which can be grown strategically on or near bases, offers an alternative supply, and reduced dependence on (often) unreliable transportation corridors and partners.

3. Emissions reduction. The Department of Defense is the world's largest single customer of diesel fuels.
4. Independent energy supply. The US military has described its limited capacity to wage extended wars without access to foreign oilfields unless alternative energy sources can be developed and tapped.
Here are 17 steps the US military forces are taking to advance, use and advocate for biofuels:

1. In Maryland,
the Naval Air Systems Command is preparing to test biofuels in an F/A-18 Super Hornet by next summer, according to Aero News. The Navy has issued an RFP for JP-5 jet fuel made from biomass, and has stipulated that it be made from non-food feedstocks, pointing the RFP towards algae, jatropha and camelina.

2. In Washington,
the US Navy and the US Department of Agriculture announced a partnership that will bring USDA science and scientists to the Navy's effort to develop a "sustainable, cost effective energy infrastructure," through development of synthetic fuels and energy efficiencies. According to a report in the Navy Times, the Navy paid $424 per gallon for a batch of algal-based biofuels, for testing purposes, purchased from Solazyme.

3. In Washington,
the US Air Force has ordered a total of 400,000 gallons of renewable biofuels from Sustainable Oils, Cargill and Solazyme for testing as a military aviation fuel. the companies, in turn, will use UOP's processing technology to convert oil from camelina, algae and animal fats into renewable jet fuel.

4. In California,
the U.S. Navy, Biodiesel Industries and Aerojet announced that they have successfully successfully demonstrated their ARIES (Automated Real-time, Remote, Integrated Energy System) project - a highly automated, portable biodiesel production unit that can be controlled from a remote location.

5. In Washington,
the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration (DARPA) said that it is working on converting algae, cellulosic biomass, and yellow grease into biofuels, but warned that it may not be able to use commercial aviation biofuels because of the performance characteristics, such as performance in cold conditions. DARPA said it wanted to develop biofuels for ground vehicles and non-nuclear ships.

6. In Alabama,
the US Navy tested its new 125 foot Bullet airship that will operate on algae fuel supplied by Alabama's Unified Fuels. The surveillance airship, which will operate at a 15000 foot altitude and fly a 1,000 pound payload for up to 48 hours, will be used for border patrol, firefighting, port screening as well as other defense purposes.

7. In Canada,
Medicago announced a contract with the US Army to develop industrial enzymes for biofuels. "The high cost of enzymes is a major hurdle in the production of biofuels using biomass. We believe our manufacturing platform could be suitable for the production of affordable enzymes as plants are uniquely capable of efficient protein expression at high yields and low costs," said Louis Vezina, Medicago's chief scientific officer.

8. In the UK,
QinetiQ has been awarded $2.4 million, three year contract for a PyTEC containerized Pyrolysis Waste Disposal System for the US Army. The self sustaining thermal pyrolysis system will process up to 100kg of Municipal Solid Waste per hour, and reclaims up to 500 kW of the thermal energy from the waste per hour. The system will be fully commissioned by 2012 after field testing.

9. In Michigan,
Alternative Fuel Technologies announced that it will partner with the US Army to test jet fuel (JP-8) in a high pressure (30,000 psi) diesel fuel injection system. The test will utilize the company's proprietary DME fuel, a clean diesel fuel replacement that can be produced from natural gas, landfill methane, coal and biomass.

10 In Washington,
the Defense Energy Support Center and Air Transport Association of America signed a strategic alliance for the development and deployment of alternative aviation fuels. The DESC-ATA alliance brings together shared goals of the Department of Defense and the principle U.S. airlines to advance the development and deployment of commercially viable, environmentally friendly, alternative aviation fuels.

11. In Washington,
the special assistant for energy at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which has been conducting two algal fuels projects, said that "Darpa has achieved the base goal to date. Oil from algae is projected at $2 per gallon, headed towards $1 per gallon."

12. Wesley Clark: "
We suffer the inefficiencies of cartel pricing and oil shocksŠ Then there is the military cost to ensure steady access to foreign oil from parts of the world that are volatile, or outright hostile to Western values and policies. Taxpayers fund the defense of oil shipping routes with an estimated annual cost of more than $50 billion. What does ethanol offer us to solve this dilemma? The domestic production of nearly 6.5 billion gallons of ethanol in the United States in 2007 eliminated the need to import at least 228.2 million barrels of oil for gasoline."

13. In Washington,
the Department of the Navy outlined its biofuels goals. By 2012, the demonstration of its new, fossil-fuel independent Green Strike Group, using hybrid electric-diesel systems, nuclear power, and biofuels powering both fleet and aircraft. By 2016 - put the Group to sail in a demonstration of US military power - independent of the geopolitics of oil - in a show of power reminiscent of 1907's Great White Fleet. The Navy's 2020 goal - across land and sea operations, is to cut fossil fuel usage by half.

14. In Washington,
Deloitte released a new report "Energy Security - America's Best Defense," finding a 175 percent increase in gallons of fuel used per day, per United States soldier during wartime since the Vietnam conflict. The report provides recommendations for consideration by the U.S. Department of Defense for becoming more energy efficient and energy secure. Recommendations include: Common biofuels for aircraft and large horsepower engines; Hybrid/electrical/biofuel - technology for the next generation of ground vehicles (which will also include built-in, multi-use generators as a common feature) must be developed and implemented. A copy of the full report can be obtained here.

15. The New York Times
highlighted the effort at Covanta Energy to use the AlphaKet technology to convert military waste biomass to renewable diesel, using a catalytic depolymerization process.

16. In Washington,
Senator John Kerry wrote in the Huffington Post: "Make no mistake: catastrophic climate change represents a threat to human security, global stability, and - yes - even to American national security." He echoes a report, downloadable, from the Military Advisory Board , that describes climate change as "a threat multiplier for instability in some of the most volatile regions of the world." The Board recommends that "the Department of Defense should enhance its operational capability by accelerating the adoption of improved business processes and innovative technologies that result in improved U.S. combat power through energy efficiency."

The Air Force, Navy, DARPA and the Defense Department have all been sponsoring projects or looking at algal fuel acquisition. DOD has two projects - one led by General Atomics and the other by SAIC, which have a goal of producing $3 fuel. The Air Force has been at work in the Boeing-led jet fuel certification process. Most recently, the US Navy's Mid Atlantic Coast section said it is looking to put out RFPs for 30-year contracts to produce biomass and/or fuel on Navy property.


Rachel Smolker
Hinesburg, Vermont, U.S.A.
office: (802) 482 2848
mobile: (802) 735-7794
skype: rachel smolker

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Fossil Fools Day begins the BP Fortnight of Shame [1 Attachment]

Hi Climate Activists!
I've been asked to send you the call-out below from Rising Tide and our UK allies for the BP Fortnight of Shame. Please forward far and wide!

Please join us in taking action to keep BP out of the tar sands
- the single most destructive project on earth.
 The BP Fortnight of Shame is a call to action from the UK Tar Sands
 Network, Rising Tide UK and the Camp for Climate Action to force BP to
 reverse their crazy plans to move into Canada's tar sands. 
 It runs between the annual Fossil Fools day on April 1st and BP's
 Annual General Meeting on April 15th.
Grassroots groups across the UK and around the world, will be taking action in solidarity with First Nations communities in Canada to stop BP's deadly plans in their tracks.

 Why Tar Sands?
 Attempts to avert the planet from sliding into climate crisis are being
 threatened by a single massive project in the Canadian wilderness.
 Already, millions of barrels of tar sands oil are being extracted every
 day, producing three to five times as many greenhouse gas emissions as
 conventional oil. The extraction process is immensely resource-intensive,
 currently using enough natural gas every day to heat 3.2 million Canadian
 homes. Add to this the mass de-forestation the projects are causing,
 ridding us of desperately needed carbon sinks; and it becomes clear this
 project cannot be allowed to continue if we are serious about preventing
 runaway climate change.

 The effects tar sands are having on local First Nations communities are
 devastating. The tar sands development in Alberta covers an area the size
 of England, with toxic tailing ponds so huge they are visible from space,
 leaking poisons into the local water supply. Not only are indigenous
 livelihoods and futures being destroyed but communities on land where tar
 sands extraction has been imposed, are experiencing disturbingly high rates
 of rare forms of cancer and auto-immune diseases.

 Why BP?
 BP are the only major oil company with no tar sands extraction projects
 currently in operation. This is about to change. Since 2007, BP have
 quietly ditched the 'Beyond Petroleum' sham, because investing in
 renewables simply wasn't making them enough profit. They have decided to
 go back to Petroleum, with a vengeance, under the leadership of new Chief
 Executive Tony Hayward.

 Moving into tar sands was one of the first steps Tony Hayward took,
 acquiring a half share in the Sunrise Project with Husky Energy. The
 Sunrise Project will be huge, producing 200,000 barrels of filthy oil a
 day using Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD), an extraction
 process even more energy and water intensive than the more visible
 surface-mining operations.

 The recession has given us a window of opportunity.
 BP have been forced to postpone their final decision on whether to go ahead until the second half of 2010. This means it is not too late for us to stop this outrageous
 project. BP are desperate for Sunrise to go ahead and will certainly not
 go down without a fight; but with effective and sustained action we can
 win this one.

 What can I do?
 From Brighton to Scotland, groups across the UK are already plotting for
 the Fortnight of Shame. If your local group isn't already planning
 something, there's still time to pull off a fantastic action. If you aren't part of local group, you could check out the list of local groups on ,or those that form the Camp for Climate Action network  ,or get together with your friends and get cracking!.
  Need ideas or resources? Click here to join an online group set up to
 share resources and information that will come in handy for the two weeks
 of action:

 The BP Fortnight of Shame is in solidarity with Canadian First Nations
 communities. When taking action, we need to be aware that our Actions can
 have unintended but potentially serious repercussions for front-line
 communities in Canada. For advice and reflections on what it means to take
 action in solidarity with communities impacted by the tar sands, see our
 page on protocols. Please take some time to read this page and discuss
 what it means for your action. 

 Action Protocols
 The BP Fortnight of Shame is being held in solidarity with First Nations
 indigenous people of Canada. The Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN),
 who UK Tar Sands campaigners have been working closely with, warmly
 welcome Direct Action and encourage UK activists to think creatively.

 Solidarity Actions elsewhere can have an enormous impact in Canada and this has
 played a key role in building momentum around the Tar Sands. However,
 certain sorts of actions can have potentially adverse effects on the
 indigenous communities at the forefront of the issue. To this end, the
 Indigenous Environmental Network have requested a number 'protocols' they
 ask activists around the world to follow when taking action in solidarity
 with indigenous peoples.

 They ask that actions are non-violent, do not set out to cause damage to
 property and that there is no masking up.

 We're aware that many of the words used in these protocols are not clearly
 definable and are open to interpretation. However, we have been asked to make you aware of them and to respect their wishes.
Here is a message from those indigenous activists:-
The Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) is a North American based network
of Indigenous Peoples empowering Indigenous Nations and communities towards
sustainable livelihoods, demanding environmental justice and maintaining the
Sacred Fire of our traditions. Our Native Energy and Climate Campaign
strengthens and builds the capacity and political power of Indigenous
Peoples to address the impacts of fossil fuel energy development in
Indigenous communities; and motivate the creation of sustainable and clean
energy and climate policies at all levels of governance.
The Canadian Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign (CITSC), based in Ottawa, Canada
is a Native-based campaign implemented through IEN as part of its Native
Energy and Climate Program. The campaign goal is to seek a moratorium on
further tar sands expansion. The campaign is focused on building the
knowledge and capacity of First Nation and Métis leadership within the tar
sands impact area to actively engage in both a corporate finance campaign
and in decision making processes on environment, forests, energy, climate
and economic policies, related to halting the tar sand expansion.
 The First Nations and Métis leadership includes grassroots, elders and youth, in
addition to elected First Nation Band Chiefs and Councilors. IEN is a
founder to the UK Tar Sands Network and is working closely with groups
internationally to call out BP through our fortnight of shame campaign
leading up the BP shareholder Annual General Meeting on April 15th.
Please let us know what you get up to!
Rising Tide
c/o 62 Fieldgate Street,
London E1 1ES

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Ghana: Massive Jatropha Farming Threatens Food Security

Ghana: Massive Jatropha Farming Threatens Food Security

Daniel Nonor

18 March 2010

A study conducted by Action Aid Ghana (AAG) and FoodSPAN in four regions in Ghana has revealed that the production of biofuel is fast affecting food crop farmers in the regions.

The study indicated that due to unavailability of comprehensive policy on biofuel production in the country, its production was having adverse effect on food security, environment, human rights and in general, livelihoods of the affected communities.

The study, which was conducted in the last quarter of last year (2009) covered 12 communities namely; Bredi Camp, Myomoase, Fawoman (all in the Brong Ahafo Region), Dukusen and Afrisre (in the Ashanti Region) and Agomeda in Greater Accra.

The rest include; Adidome, Tordzino, Lolito, Dedukorpe (in the Volta region) and Gomoa Adenten and Baifikrom in the Central region.

According to the report, what was worse was that in most cases the companies involved in the production of the biofuel import labour from outside the communities where production sites were located, and "there were drastic lay-offs as the project progressed from land preparation and planting stages."

It observed that the companies were undertaking large scale plantation farms of mainly jatropha production with the smallest farm covering about 75 acres.

The companies engaged in jatropha production were Kimminic Estates Ltd. in the Brong Ahafo Region, Scanfuel Limited in Ashanti Region and Afram Basin and Gold Star Bio-Diesel Farm Limited in the Volta and Central Regions.

"Generally, fertile arable lands suitable for crop production were being used for jatropha production except in the Volta region. Biofuel production projects were characterized by extensive use of weedicides, example Sunphosate with possible pollution of water bodies," it stressed.

It observed that the large scale production also involved the use of heavy machinery resulting in wanton destruction of forest, vegetative cover, biodiversity and economic trees including dawadawa and shea-tress, citing Dukusen in the Afram Basin as a clear example.

In Bredi Camp, a farmer named Mageed bemoaned that his life and that of other community members have been adversely affected as they no longer have land to produce maize, cassava and yam, adding that they were neither consulted by the Omanhene of the area nor the biofuel company before they took over the land, and that they have not been compensated for the displacement.

However, the report recommended for an urgent need for the government and all other stakeholders to discuss the issue of land grabbing for biofuel production objectively and come up with policies that would spell out modalities for biofuel production in the country since food insecurity, destruction of biodiversity and violation of human rights were imminent if not properly handled.

The Project Officer of General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU), Mr. Joseph Owusu Osei told The Chronicle in an interview that due to the energy crisis the world over, there is a shift to bioproduction, hence countries like Russia, the US and China have moved to Ghana to acquire large tracts of lands in the country.

He said the activities of the multinational companies have left a lot to be desired.

He noted that they would present a policy paper to the Parliamentary select committee on Food and Agriculture on March 25th 2010 on what steps to take to combat the situation.


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Friday, March 26, 2010

National Policy Statement on Renewable poor on biomass sustainability

<"The renewables NPS should direct the IPC to assess the sustainability of the fuel sources for new biomass power plants.">

Parliament urged to consider changes to NPSs
Wednesday 24 March 2010

The Energy and Climate Change Committee (ECCC) has called for a raft of amendments to be made to the National Policy Statements (NPSs) for Energy after concluding that they are not currently fit for purpose.

After holding a 10 session inquiry into the draft NPSs, the ECCC published a report yesterday (March 23) claiming that there a number of ways that the documents - which aim to remove unnecessary planning delays facing large energy proposals and which will advise the new Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) - must be improved if they are to be successful.

The committee has called for a Parliamentary debate to consider changes to the documents, including a potential future option of introducing an energy hierarchy to advise the IPC on preferential applications in order to avoid the risk of "locking the UK into a high-carbon energy mix". This was one of the main issues debated during the ECCC's inquiry and divided witnesses.

Another bone of contention raised by some of the witnesses during the committee's evidence sessions was the lack of spatial guidance in all but the nuclear NPS which has led to the ECCC noting that there is greater scope for the documents to take account of spatial issues.

However, the committee acknowledged that the statements should not be as specific on the location of energy infrastructure developments as the nuclear NPS, but claimed there are ways in which the non-nuclear NPSs could take greater account of spatial issues. The ECCC claimed this could be assisted by the development of some form of English national spatial strategy.

Launching the report, MP for Sherwood, Paddy Tipping,- who has chaired the majority of the committee's evidence sessions - said: "The national policy statements (NPSs) on energy will be crucial for delivering our energy and climate change objectives. As Ministers will no longer determine planning consent for nationally important infrastructure in the future, it is vital that the NPSs are underpinned by a full democratic mandate".

The ECCC has also proposed that the following changes be made to the NPSs:

They should take a more holistic view of the energy sector, giving greater consideration to transport and heating;
It is vital that the overarching energy NPS states clearly what the government's energy and climate change objectives are;
Government should place additional safeguards within the NPSs, including the requirement for applicants to conduct a full lifecycle carbon assessment of their proposals;
Require the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) to report annually on the cumulative emissions arising from developments consented by the IPC as part of its overall monitoring of progress against the carbon budgets;
Government should adopt the CCC's proposal that the electricity sector be fully decarbonised by 2030, as this would better inform the IPC's long-term decision making;
The renewables NPS should direct the IPC to assess the sustainability of the fuel sources for new biomass power plants.
Consultation process
In its report, the ECCC also noted "significant" concerns about the government's consultation process and its conduct of the appraisals of sustainability for the draft NPSs.

The committee strongly criticised the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) for its timing with the publication of the documents, claiming it constrained the time available for parliamentary scrutiny and public engagement, particularly in relation to greenfield nuclear sites. The ECCC claimed the government must learn from this experience and use it to inform the preparation of future NPSs.

( )

And from the Energy and Climate Change Committee report of 23 March 2010:

52. The Draft National Policy Statement for Renewable Energy Infrastructure, EN-3, sets out the specific assessment criteria for biomass and energy from waste. In evidence, some witnesses raised concern at the current treatment of the fuel source for both these technologies. For biomass, EN-3 stipulates: "the IPC does not need to consider the source or sustainability of the proposed biomass fuel to be used within the proposed plant".[94] It states this is because operators of biomass plants already have an obligation to report annually on the sustainability of their fuel sources, including the volume, type of biomass used, country of origin and previous land use. However, under the UK Low Carbon Transition Plan the Government expects a large increase in the level of biomass generation, and the Environment Agency told us the majority of the fuel source for this would be from North and South America or Indonesia.[95] The Agency said it did not believe the provisions were in place to ensure that, for example, imported wood-chip for biomass plant use would be sourced from Forestry Stewardship Council-certified wood. The Agency described the current requirements as "weak" and "essentially [...] voluntary".[96] The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) shared this concern, stating the origin of the fuel source for biomass should be a factor the IPC considered.[97]

53. In response, the Renewable Energy Association countered that the emissions arising from the ocean transport of biomass did not significantly increase the carbon footprint of the technology when comparing against coal.[98] It is worth noting, though, that transportation is just one aspect of the sustainability of an imported fuel source. As the Minister noted, the general principles on this should be "first of all, that it delivers carbon dioxide savings, second, that it uses land responsibly, third, that it does not undermine global food supplies or inflate prices, and overall [...] that it is sustainable".[99] Officials also told us that although EN-3 currently reflected Government policy on biomass fuel sources, the Department was negotiating at a European level with the aim of agreeing a set of standards, which they hoped could be incorporated into the designated NPS.[100]

55. The current draft NPS on renewables, EN-3, reflects the Government's current policy on the fuel sources for biomass and energy from waste power plant. However, we are concerned that the IPC is directed not to consider the sustainability of biomass fuel. Although to do this would require a change of policy, we believe the existing draft guidance would mean the IPC would not be able to examine fully all adverse environmental, social and economic impacts as it is required to do in paragraph 4.1.1 of EN-1. We therefore recommend the Department revises EN-3 to require all biomass power station applicants to make a full assessment of the sustainability of their fuel sources. We also recommend that the Department re-assesses whether its current guidance on energy from waste ensures that only waste that cannot otherwise be economically recycled or reused is sourced as feedstock for energy from waste production.



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100MW Avonmouth biomass power stations gets DECC approval

<no mention of CHP - supposedly a weakness of existing centralised fossil fuel power stations>

<it burns 850,000 tonnes of biomass per year. If all the fuel is wood, it would need over 40,000 hectares (or 400 square kilometres) of forest to be totally harvested – each and every year for the life of the power station. Over 25 years, that area extends to more than all of Wales.. (based on a regrowth to maturity period of 40 years plus) >

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has today (March 26) granted planning consent for Helius Energy to construct and operate a 100MW biomass plant in Avonmouth, Bristol.

The biomass energy development company, which has offices in London and Grimsby, submitted an application for the £200 million wood-fuelled power plant in February 2009, after signing an option to lease an 18 acre site within Avonmouth Dock, on the Bristol Channel, in October 2008.

According to Helius, the power station will produce enough renewable electricity for around 200,000 homes and will save over 720,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, when compared to a similarly sized coal-fired power station.

The biomass power plant will require up to 850,000 tonnes of sustainably sourced feedstock each year, which will be primarily wood-based material, and construction of the plant is expected to start following conclusion of the engineering procurement programme.

Announcing DECC's decision, energy minister, David Kidney, said: "We need to increase the amount of energy we get from renewable sources. This plant will generate enough electricity to power up to 200,000 homes, making a significant contribution to our CO2 emissions reduction and energy security goals.

"The local economy in the Avonmouth area will also benefit, with the plant creating up to 250 jobs during construction and approximately 40 full-time jobs when fully operational."

As set out in DECC's consent letter to Helius, the development shall be up to 100MW capacity and comprise:

One or two mass burn boilers;
One steam turbine generator;
Air cooled condenser, or water cooling towers, or hybrid air/water cooling towers;
Fuel feedstock storage buildings and fuel handling plant;
Ancillary plant and equipment;
Necessary buildings (including administration offices, workshops and stores) and civil engineering works.
Consent has been granted subject to the above details and that development of the plant shall not be later than five years from the date of consent.

Welcoming the decision, Dr Adrian Bowles, chief executive of Helius Energy, said: "We are pleased that the Avonmouth project has been granted consent by the Secretary of State and we look forward to producing renewable electricity from sustainably sourced biomass in Bristol.

"This consent builds on the success of our projects at Stallingborough and Rothes and will enable Helius Energy to play a crucial part in delivering a future energy supply which is reliable, renewable and sustainable."

The electricity produced at the Avonmouth plant will be fed into the local electricity grid and Helius has already secured grid access rights.

As a result of investing £2.8 million in current projects, including the Avonmouth plant, Helius Energy reported an almost £4 million loss before tax for 2009


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Europe's Biofuel Policy Unsustainable New Research Confirms



For immediate release: Friday March 26, 2010


Brussels, March 26 - New research released by the European Commission
confirms that Europe's demand for biofuels is likely to contribute to
climate change and harm the environment. [1]

Adrian Bebb, agrofuels campaign coordinator for Friends of the Earth
Europe said: "The EU's biofuel policy is looking more and more
unsustainable and if not urgently reviewed will lead to deforestation,
more climate changing emissions and damage to the environment. It is
time to end this madness and bring in real solutions to the climate crisis."

The research evaluates the implications of Europe obtaining just 5.6% of transport fuels from biofuels by 2020 and concludes that anything above that figure will "rapidly" increase climate emissions and "erode the environmental sustainability of biofuels". The EU has set a target of 10% of all road transport fuel to come from "renewable" sources by 2020, with a majority likely to come from biofuels. For example, the UK government estimates that at least 9.5% of its transport fuel requirements will be met by biofuels by 2020.

It also concludes that the threat of indirect land use changes –
expanding agriculture to grow crops to meet the biofuel target, often at the expense of forests – is real and needs to be taken into account. The research shows that greenhouse gas emissions would increase rapidly after only 4.6% biofuel use. The European Commission needs to make proposals by the end of 2010 on how to deal with these extra emissions.

Adrian Bebb continued: "This research demands an urgent review of EU
biofuels policy – how is the EU going to restrict use so that biofuels
do not damage the environment or people? The case against the current
10% target is as strong as it ever was."



[1] Global Trade and Environmental Impact Study of the EU Biofuels Mandate


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