Friday, September 30, 2011

[biofuelwatch] Norfolk’s new £350,000 biorefinery centre is key to growth - Business - Eastern Daily Press





http://www.edp24.co.uk:80/business/norfolk_s_new_350_000_biorefinery_centre_is_key_to_growth_1_1076817



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[biofuelwatch] Fwd: No to the WWF New Generation Plantations Project



http://www.wrm.org.uy/bulletin/170/viewpoint.html#4

- No to the WWF New Generation Plantations Project!

On this International Day Against Monoculture Tree Plantations, the Latin American Network Against Monoculture Tree Plantations (RECOMA), a network of Latin American organizations with the basic objective of coordinating activities to oppose the expansion of large-scale monoculture tree plantations on a regional level, with representatives from several Latin American countries, in conjunction with other social organizations and activists, is launching an open call for opposition to the so-called New Generation Plantations Project (NGPP) promoted by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), an international conservation organization.

The call for opposition to the project states:

On its New Generation Plantations Project (NGPP) website, the WWF claims that "we need the commodities and services from tree plantations" and then proposes to "improve models of forestry that keep the commodities flowing, respect the rights of local communities (…) and contribute to protecting and restoring natural forests." In order to achieve these goals, all that is supposedly needed is better plantation management.

But it is the current trade in commodities and, more broadly speaking, the current model of production and consumption that is at the root of the problems that humankind is currently suffering. And at no time does the WWF criticize this model or propose changing it. It wants to believe, or wants to make others believe, that the contradictions inherent to industrial tree plantations will somehow magically disappear: the concentration of land ownership, the evictions of local communities and exclusion of other productive activities, the exhaustion of water resources and soil.

The social and environmental impacts of plantations – which increase alongside the profits of the plantation corporations – are directly related to the industrial-scale monoculture "forestry model" to which the WWF refers. This is why these large corporations have always used every possible strategy to greenwash their activities. And the WWF's NGPP perfectly fits the bill for this purpose. It would seem that the organization's only concern is to maintain and expand the plantations' current markets.

In addition, the NGPP is largely aimed at opening the doors to the carbon and energy markets for tree plantations, thus paving the way for even more fertile lands on which millions of people in Latin America depend for their survival to be occupied by big corporations.

The NGPP initiative involves a number of forestry sector corporations – CMPC/Forestal Mininco, Masisa, Fibria, Mondi, Portucel, Sabah Forest Industries, Stora Enso, Veracel, UPM-Kymmene – as well as the State Forest Administration of China, the Forestry Commission of Great Britain and the Forest Initiative of Sweden.

The project website showcases a series of examples of industrial tree plantations around the world that have contributed to "biodiversity conservation". Of the nine case studies presented, five correspond to tree plantations in Latin America owned by UPM (case study in Uruguay), Veracel/Stora Enso and Fibria (two case studies in Brazil), Masisa (Argentina) and CMPC/Forestal Mininco (Chile). Each and every one of these companies has a record of denunciations aimed against them by local communities, which the WWF has obviously chosen to ignore.

These denunciations range from violations of the rights of indigenous and traditional communities to their territories and illegal land occupation to the destruction of valuable ecosystems and water sources and the replacement of farmland for raising food crops with tree plantations, among others.

We at RECOMA and the other undersigned organizations and activists denounce these types of manoeuvres as a means of serving the commercial interests of corporations that have no qualms about violating the rights of the local communities on which they impose their monoculture tree plantations. At the same time, we call on other social movements and organizations to join in our opposition to this WWF project.

We are issuing this statement as part of the actions to mark the International Day Against Monoculture Tree Plantations, and in memory of Ricardo Carrere, who during his life and work with WRM and RECOMA tirelessly supported and promoted the struggle against tree plantations and their negative impacts, demanding respect for the rights of local communities and indigenous peoples over their territories.

September 21, 2011


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[biofuelwatch] Norfolk researchers to pioneer a biofuels revolution - Farming news - Eastern Daily Press





http://www.edp24.co.uk:80/business/farming-news/norfolk_researchers_to_pioneer_a_biofuels_revolution_1_1075533



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[biofuelwatch] Europe's First Biomass Exchange To Open In November - Planet Ark





http://planetark.org/wen/63429

Europe's first exchange for trading wood pellets, used to replace coal in electricity generation, will be launched on November 3 in the port of Rotterdam, Anglo-Dutch exchange APX Endex said in a statement.
The global market of wood pellets is growing as a result of world-wide policies to cut CO2 emissions and replace fossil fuels with renewable sources of energy.
The biomass exchange is joint project of Anglo-Dutch power and gas exchange APX-Endex and Europe's biggest port, agreed in 2010.
Currently, the global wood pellet market is estimated at 10 million tonnes and it could grow sixfold by 2020.
"In the port area itself, we foresee a market of two to three million tonnes in 2025. Outside Rotterdam, demand will be many times larger," said Hans Smits, Rotterdam Port chief executive.
The Netherlands, Germany, Scandinavia, and Belgium are among the biggest consumers of wood pellets in Europe, with the bulk of the Dutch intake used in Essent's Amer coal-fired plant.
"Contracts offered for trading include three months contracts, three quarters and three calendars," APX Endex said in the statement.
It said that by 2012 "clearing services for wood pellets contracts will be developed and implemented, providing further financial security to market participants."





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Thursday, September 29, 2011

[biofuelwatch] US ethanol producers relying on corn oil sales



From the Wall Street Journal:


Ethanol Firms See New Field

U.S. ethanol producers faced with slowing growth in demand are turning to a fledgling market for corn oil to help boost revenues.

Several of the nation's largest ethanol companies, including Green Plains Renewable Energy and Valero Energy Corp., have invested in equipment to produce the oil. Extracted during the production of ethanol, corn oil is mainly used to make animal feed and biodiesel, but it also can be produced for cooking.

Bloomberg News

A Missouri farmer unloads corn for ethanol production. The industry is looking at corn oil for new revenues.

The volumes ethanol producers plan to make are expected to be small compared with the two-billion-gallon U.S. market for soybean oil, which is nearly interchangeable. Still, the new product adds an important revenue stream for ethanol makers who face flattening demand, historically high corn prices and volatile energy markets.

Ethanol production has been profitable throughout 2011, with the Renewable Fuels Association projecting production at a record 13.7 billion gallons. Still, the rapid gains in demand are seen slowing. The industry is nearing 15 billion gallons, the annual amount that federal law requires refiners to blend into gasoline by 2015. Further gains past the federal mandate are hampered by weakening support in Congress, concerns over the effects that increased ethanol use would have on older engines and changes that gas stations would have to make to their pumps.

Ethanol producers are "going to have to be creative in ways to generate more profit," said Jason Ward, an analyst with Northstar Commodity in Minneapolis. Demand "really can't go much higher," Ward said.

Green Plains Renewable, after making a $20 million investment in 2010 to produce corn oil, projects between $30 million and $40 million in new, annual revenue from the liquid. Producing corn oil is "low-hanging fruit," the company's chief executive, Todd Becker, said.

In the quarter ended June 30, corn oil accounted for $6.4 million in operating income, up from zero the prior year. Operating profit was $11.6 million for ethanol production.

Other large companies, including South Dakota-based Poet LLC, the world's largest ethanol producer, and Valero ,are adding similar equipment to their existing plants. The investments are a natural progression for the industry, said Jeff Lautt, Poet's president, whose company is in the midst of an effort to diversify revenue.

"You look at any other industry that's developed over the last 100 years, once they mature they start to broaden out, and ways to create new revenue or bottom-line margin," Mr. Lautt said.

The new supply of corn oil from ethanol plants isn't food grade, although Mr. Lautt said Poet may try making food-grade corn oil eventually.

A spokesman for Valero, which entered the ethanol business in 2009 after buying plants from Verasun Energy Corp., said the decisions to invest in corn oil reflects the relative health of the industry as it puts money back into the business.

Ethanol plants have a ready buyer in the biodiesel industry, which can use either corn oil or soybean oil in production. And corn oil right now sells at a discount to soybean oil, said Sander Cohan, an analyst at ESAI Inc.

Although increased corn-oil production provides added competition for soybean-oil makers, it isn't likely to saturate the market, industry officials said. Even if all producers adopted the technology this year, total output would be under 270 million gallons, said Mr. Becker of Green Plains.

Corn oil is a byproduct of ethanol production, a fermentation process in which the starch is separated from the kernel and turned into sugar. The technology employed by most ethanol plants extracts corn oil in fermentation process.

Corrections & Amplifications 
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Poet was based in Iowa. The company is based in South Dakota.

Write to Ian Berry at ian.berry@dowjones.com

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

[biofuelwatch] NNFCC report on biofuels for heating



Press release from NNFCC 26 Sept 2011

Biodiesel is a viable alternative to non-renewable heating oils, says NNFCC

A new report on bioliquids commissioned by the UK Government and written by the UK's National Centre for Biorenewable Energy, Fuels and Materials – the NNFCC – suggests biodiesel could play an important role in reducing our reliance on the fossil-based oils which currently heat more than a million homes in the UK.

Bioliquids are liquid fuels made from biomass that are not intended for transport. They are typically used in oil boilers to replace fossil-based fuels, like kerosene.

There are currently 1.4 million households in the UK using heating oil, and every year we get through 0.1 million tonnes of gas oil and 2.3 million tonnes of kerosene.

Using renewable alternatives to fossil-based heating oils has the potential to reduce fuel bills and our greenhouse gas emissions. However, replacing or converting our current system to one based on renewables could be costly.

Consequently the NNFCC were commissioned by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change to gather evidence on the most suitable bioliquid heat only technologies, and their costs, to support research for phase two of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).

The study considered bioliquids with the potential to be used as heating fuel, either now or in the near-term, such as vegetable oil, biodiesel and used cooking oil.

"Due to the physical properties of bioliquids they cannot be simply dropped-in to conventional boilers; instead we can either convert existing boilers to use bioliquids or build completely new dedicated bioliquid heat plants," said Biomass Research Officer at the NNFCC and author of the report, Fiona McDermott.

"We found the biggest market opportunity for bioliquids was with existing domestic oil users, primarily those off the gas-grid, with a smaller secondary market potential in industrial heat plants."

The NNFCC believe that biodiesel will be the preferred bioliquid fuel in the near-term, because it is of higher and more consistent quality than vegetable oils or used cooking oil. An alternative could be to convert biomass to pyrolysis oil and this is expected to be available later in the decade, says the report.

Full report available to NNFCC members only at:

http://www.nnfcc.co.uk/tools/evaluation-of-bioliquid-technologies-for-dedicated-heat-generation?


>>NOTES:

1. If all of the consumption of heating oil in the UK given above - 2.4 million tonnes per year - were replaced with 100% biodiesel, that would considerably exceed the current level of biodiesel in UK road transport (roughly 1 million tonnes per year)

Transport biodiesel could grow to about 2.5 million tonnes per year if the 2020 target of 10% renewable energy in transport is met completely from biofuels

2. 80% of road transport biofuels are currently imported - including those made from used cooking oil and tallow. It's wishful thinking to imagine that waste feedstocks either in the UK or globally will be able to supply road transport, aviation, power generation and now heating.>>

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[biofuelwatch] US company claims highly efficient cellulose-to-fuel process



A Way to Make Motor Fuel Out of Wood? Add Water

By MATTHEW L. WALD

NY Times: September 27, 2011

A Georgia company says it has overcome a major roadblock in turning agricultural waste into vehicle fuel and other useful chemicals by experimenting with a technology that treats the waste with compressed water heated to very high temperatures.

Technology from Renmatix obtained this sugar solution from wood pulp by applying very hot water at high pressure.

The company, Renmatix, plans to cut the ribbon on a research and development center on Tuesday in King of Prussia, Pa., near the heart of the nation's chemical and refining industry, to complete development of the process. The goal is to accomplish something that has eluded a dozen companies in recent years despite big government inducements: to commercialize a technology for making use of cellulosic biomass, or wood chips, switchgrass and the nonedible parts of crops.

If it works, the technology could reduce the nation's reliance on oil imports for gasoline in favor of a cleaner-burning and less expensive source of energy. A company with a workable technology would have a guaranteed market, given that Congress has set quotas for the consumption of cellulosic fuel but so far, hardly any is being produced.

What is more, the supply of cellulosic biomass is far larger than the amount of corn available for making ethanol, and it does not involve diverting many resources from food production.

Cellulose is made up mostly of sugars that can be fed to microorganisms to make ethanol or be chemically processed into other fuels or chemical feedstocks. Yet those sugars are locked up in a form that makes them mostly useless to anything but grazing cows and termites.

The process developed by Renmatix involves putting hardwoods into a small pressurized chamber. One class of sugars, the type with five carbon atoms, is broken off and harvested. The remaining material is pumped into a second pressurized vessel for a longer period to release the remaining sugars.

A solid component of woody biomass called lignin remains and is burned to provide energy for the process.

In both phases, the cellulosic material is treated by water at a pressure and temperature that is so high that the water is neither steam nor an ordinary liquid but in a form known as "supercritical."

Competitors use various combinations of steam, acid and enzymes to convert the woody waste into fuel. But the enzymes are far more expensive than water, and the acid residue must be removed from the resulting product. Some companies have tried to blast the cellulose into very small molecules and then recombine them as alcohols or other chemicals, but they have had trouble controlling the mix that results.

Renmatix uses only pressurized water. When the water is in the so-called supercritical phase, the company says, its pH level can be adjusted to turn it into an acid. When it is depressurized, it reverts to pure water with a neutral pH level.

Renmatix began its lab-scale process in late 2008. A year later, it began operating a pilot-scale plant in Kennesaw, Ga., that processes three tons a day of mixed wood chips.

"We use no significant consumables, like enzymes or acids," said Fred Moesler, a company engineer who is in charge of scaling up the process.

But scaling up and reaching competitive prices have tripped up several competitors in the field.

"It's not unimaginable that it would work," said Thomas L. Richard, a professor of agricultural and biological engineering at Penn State University and the director of its Institutes for Energy and the Environment. Yet he cautioned, "I'm quite confident that they will face some challenges moving from a lab success to a tens-of-millions-of-gallons commercial refinery."

Renmatix's process stops at the point that the wood waste is transformed into useful sugars. Other companies would convert the sugars into feedstock chemicals or motor fuels.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

[biofuelwatch] Reminder: Public meeting in London next Tue, 4th October





If you are in or near London, please come along to a Public Meeting about "The real cost of subsidies for biofuel and biomass electricity" next Tuesday, 4th October, 6.30 - 9.30 pm.  See below for the full description.

Help with letting more people know about this event would be greatly appreciated.  For those who use Facebook, you can let more people know via www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=145261838899921 to others.  Many thanks!


Public Meeting: The real cost of subsidies for biofuel and biomass electricity

Public Meeting: The real cost of subsidies (ROCs) for biofuel and biomass electricity

When: Tuesday, 4th October 2011, 6.30-9.30pm

Where: Lumen URC  Hall, 88 Tavistock Place, London WC1H 9RS (close to St Pancras Station)

Speakers:

+ Elias Mtinda, Food Rights Coordinator for ActionAid Tanzania:Impacts of biofuels, including jatropha on communities and food sovereignty in Tanzania

+ Emilia Hanna, Biofuelwatch: Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) for biomass and biofuels in the UK – Impact on power station developments and of biomass effects on forests, communities and climate

+ Kenneth Richter, Agrofuel Campaigner, Friends of the Earth: What
do ROCs for biofuels mean for communities affected by the expansion of
oil palm and jatropha plantations?

+ UK biomass burning and the growth of industrial tree plantations in the South – Speaker tbc

  – Free public event, no pre-booking required -

Background:

The event will coincide with and discuss a forthcoming government consultation about subsidies – Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) – for `renewable electricity', including biofuels and biomass, which have led to many biofuel and biomass power stations being proposed across the UK.   Under government plans, annual subsidies for those could top £3 billion, paid out of all our fuel bill.

Biofuelwatch is actively campaigning for ROCs to be withdrawn for both biofuels and biomass and information about how to get involved will be available at the meeting.

Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs), have led to a large number of planning applications, many of which approved already, for biofuel and biomass (mainly wood) power stations across the UK.

For example, in Bristol and Portland, W4B has had plans for two large palm oil power stations approved despite strong local and national opposition, including local authority opposition in Bristol.  The Bristol power station alone would, if built, double the use of palm oil in UK biofuels overnight.

Companies such as MGT Power, Prenergy, Helius Energy and Forth Energy are planning to build biomass power stations which could be larger than any that exist worldwide today.  Virtually all of the wood will be imported, which will directly or indirectly, lead to more logging and more industrial tree plantations at the expense of tropical forests, grasslands and communities in countries such as Brazil, the Republic of Congo or Ghana.

For more information about the impacts of ROCs for biofuels and biomass click here.



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Monday, September 26, 2011

[biofuelwatch] Repeated burning undercuts Amazon rainforest recovery



http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0926-hance_tcs_visima.html

Repeated burning undercuts Amazon rainforest recovery

Jeremy Hance
September 26, 2011

The Amazon rainforest can recover from logging, but has a far more difficult time returning after repeated burning, reports a new study in mongabay.com's open-access journal Tropical Conservation Science. In areas where the Amazon had been turned to pasture and was subject to repeated burning, Visima trees become the dominant tree inhibiting the return of a biodiverse forest. The key to the sudden domination of Visima trees, according to the study, is that these species re-sprout readily following fires; a capacity most other Amazonian trees lack.

"Throughout much of the Amazon Basin, abandoned pastures are often dominated by species of Vismia because it is the only tree genus capable of regenerating shoots from below ground tissues. Repeated burning of pastures kills other advance regeneration," the paper's authors write.

When left to regenerate, logged Amazon areas see the return of Cecropia trees, which is similar to what happens when the Amazon sees natural disturbance. However, repeated fires suppress Cecropia trees, and favor instead Visima trees: researchers found that 100 percent of Visima trees re-sprouted after fires. But, where Cecropia trees dominate, so does biodiversity: twice as many species were found in these regenerating forests than in the Visima dominated. Visima forests therefore become what researchers dubbed a 'wasteland', while Cercopia forests held the potential to return to biodiverse rainforest.

The scientists further found that seed dispersers did not play a significantly different role in Visima over Cercopia secondary forests, as both forests saw very few species brought in by dispersers.

"Seed dispersal of mature forest species into Vismia-dominated stands is close to nil, but this is no different from dispersal into Cecropia-dominated stands where succession is not arrested. Therefore, the arresting mechanism lies in the early years following abandonment when Vismia, surviving pasture burns, becomes dominant by default," the authors explains. Visima forests can arrest any forest recovery for decades.

Given this knowledge the authors recommend new policies to dissuade burning of the forests. Instead, a logged forest should be allowed to regenerate without additional burning to turn the area into pasture.

"As most of the forest value lies in the timber extracted, clearcuts should be abandoned without conversion to pasture," the authors write, adding that, "in order to avoid extensive forest conversion into unproductive Vismia wastelands in the Amazon Basin, forestry permits for harvesting timber should include restrictions on subsequent anthropogenic degradation, such as conversion to pasture and prescribed burning."


CITATION: Wieland, L. M, Mesquita, R. C. G., Bobrowiec, P. E. D., Bentos, T. V. and Williamson, G. B. 2011. Seed rain and advance regeneration in secondary succession in the Brazilian Amazon. Tropical Conservation Science Vol. 4(3):300-316.


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[biofuelwatch] Delay to green subsidies puts renewable energy investment in doubt



(mentions the problems that biomass power stations are having in forward planning, and not knowing their subsidies)


Government puts back Renewables Obligation Certificate reforms, leaving investors unable to commit to green projects

by Fiona Harvey
guardian.co.uk,
Monday 26 September 2011

Investment in the UK's renewable energy infrastructure has been thrown into doubt as an urgent review into the subsidy regime has been delayed.


Renewable energy companies are concerned that the delay of Renewables Obligation Certificate (ROC) reforms – promised this year by the government – will prompt a rethink of the investment plans. The review is crucial for investors as they are currently unable to make long-term business plans without knowing how much support they are likely to receive in future.


Chris Moore, director at biomass plant developer MGT Power, said the delay meant investors were not moving ahead with potential projects. He said: "This is a problem for renewable businesses, and it's very damaging for UK plc. All of renewable energy investment is effectively on hold until the government sorts out the review and its plans."


Gaynor Hartnell, chief executive of the Renewable Energy Association, said the trade body had been "inundated" with inquiries over when the review might take place.


Key to the review is how the subsidies will be "banded", whereby some forms of energy will receive greater support – which comes ultimately from consumer energy bills, rather than government coffers – than others. A new regime would also be expected to provide more targeted support for new technologies.


Last December, the government recognised the need for an urgent review when it brought forward the consultation by a year. Charles Hendry, energy minister, said then that a consultation on ROCs would be carried out over the summer, and that by autumn this year, new plans for the subsidies would be confirmed.


At the time, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) acknowledged: "Under the previous timetable, investors would not have known for certain what support they could have expected to receive until autumn 2012 at the earliest. The government was concerned this might delay early investment in certain technologies and hinder the UK's ability to meet our European Union energy target for 15% of energy to come from renewable sources by 2020."


In accelerating the review, the government said it would "give investors and developers greater certainty, and the confidence to help bring forward the scale of renewable development needed to deliver the EU target, and other important energy and climate change objectives".


This timetable is now impossible to stick to. The consultation will take 12 weeks, as is standard. However, even if the review were to begin immediately, it could not be completed before the end of this parliamentary term. Investors are concerned that this could be the start of a longer delay.


Most at risk are biomass projects, generating electricity from wood and waste byproducts. Several of these are on hold because at current rates of subsidy, they would be uneconomic, and companies are calling on the government to correct this problem. This summer Dorothy Thompson, chief executive of Drax, which was planning to burn more biomass than coal in its massive power station, told the Guardian these plans were in jeopardy because of the government's failure to clarify the subsidies.


DECC said an announcement would be made "shortly" but could provide no further details.


Ministers are thought to be wary of attracting attention to the level of subsidies for green electricity, after a spate of reports in sections of the media and on the right of the Tory party criticising renewable subsidies as a component in energy prices. Chris Huhne, environment secretary, argues that consumers are more at risk of rising costs from the volatility of the gas price, and that investing in renewables is the best way to prevent future rises.


Labour leader Ed Miliband blamed energy companies for higher bills this week, promising to curtail their powers.


When the new bands are decided, they will come into effect from 1 April 2013, and from 1 April

2014 for offshore wind technologies.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/sep/26/delay-green-subsidies-investment-doubt?CMP=twt_fd

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[biofuelwatch] Fwd: Questioning Europe's Math on Biofuels





Begin forwarded message:

New York Times
September 25, 2011

Questioning Europe's Math on Biofuels

BRUSSELS — Much of the appeal of generating energy from plants was that they emit only as much carbon when burned in cars and power plants as they absorb while growing.

Lately, that appeal seems to be going up in smoke.

It turns out that the emissions from growing and processing some biofuels significantly diminish their benefits, when taking into account factors like the use of fertilizers manufactured with fossil fuels.

Concerns have also grown that large swaths of forest and grassland will be chopped down or burned to grow fuel crops — and to grow food that has been displaced by growing fuel crops elsewhere — thereby releasing additional stocks of carbon into the atmosphere.

Olivier De Schutter, the special rapporteur on the Right to Food for the United Nations, is among the experts who have said that pressure on farmland from demand for biofuels is a major factor in the food price spikes that have exacerbated hunger and social unrest in some of the poorest countries in the past three years.

Anti-poverty groups like ActionAid and Oxfam have warned that demand for biofuels led to land deals in Kenya, Senegal and Guatemala that displaced people, or left them without enough land to grow enough food to eat and make a living.

This month, an influential committee of 19 scientists and academics described yet another concern: that the authorities, including the European Union, had gotten their math wrong and were overestimating the potential for bioenergy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Scientific Committee of the European Environment Agency said the Union had committed a "serious accounting error" by failing to measure how much additional carbon dioxide was absorbed by existing fields, forests and grasslands, compared with that absorbed by energy crops.

"The potential consequences of this bioenergy accounting error are immense," the committee wrote.

The committee concluded that the Union was effectively "double-counting" some reductions in greenhouse gases, and it warned that current bioenergy policies "may even result in increased carbon emissions — thereby accelerating global warming."

The opinion drew a chilly response from the European Commission, which oversees policies on renewable energy.

Marlene Holzner, a spokeswoman for Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger, said parts of the opinion were based on work that had been "rebutted by other institutions in the past." She also suggested that the opinion failed to make a proper comparison of biofuels and gasoline or diesel.

Bioenergy has become one of the most fiercely contested issues in Brussels since the E.U. governments agreed three years ago that 20 percent of all energy, and 10 percent of transport fuels, should come from renewable sources by the end of the decade.

Bioenergy, including the burning of wood to produce electricity, would meet about half of the overall renewable energy target under national plans, while biofuels would provide the majority of renewable transport fuels.

Powerful interests are at stake, like those of rapeseed farmers and biodiesel producers in Germany and France and palm oil growers in Malaysia and Indonesia. Biofuels already supply about 4 percent of transport fuels in Europe, with sales worth about $17 billion annually.

There is a need to "protect the legitimate expectations for E.U. agriculture" and "avoid problems with the E.U.'s main trading partners," according to minutes from a meeting in July at which a number of E.U. commissioners discussed biofuels.

The commissioners also discussed waiting as long as seven years before penalizing growers of the fuels with the greatest effects on food and land use changes, like the clearing of rain forests and the draining of peat land.

Officials from the E.U. climate department still are pushing for those measures to go into force within three years and for additional measures that would limit fuels based on some palm oil and soya beans to go into effect as soon as possible.

Even so, concerns are growing that the commission has been too quick to shrug off evidence that its policies encourage some harmful forms of bioenergy.

ClientEarth, a nonprofit law firm with offices in Brussels, has sued the European Commission three times since last year for access to information about the environmental effects of biofuels and the way the fuels are certified.

ClientEarth said it was waiting for the General Court, the E.U.'s second highest tribunal, to set hearing dates in two of the cases, and for the commission's preliminary response in the third case.

Last week, environmental groups including BirdLife International, the European Environmental Bureau, Transport and Environment, Greenpeace and Wetlands International sent a letter to José Manuel Barroso, the president of the commission, seeking assurances that his organization was "giving due consideration to science in its energy policy, after several instances in which the best available science was dismissed."

The groups expressed particular concern that some of the findings by the 19 scientists and academics on bioenergy had been "rebutted, without cause." Aides to Mr. Barroso said Friday that a response was being prepared.

Even some industries are growing frustrated, as Europe seeks more of its energy from plants.

The European Panel Federation, an industry group representing manufacturers of wood-based panels including subsidiaries of Ikea, the Swedish furniture giant, applauded the findings by the 19 scientists and academics.

Ladislaus Döry, president of the federation, said demand for wood in the form of chips and sawdust from sawmills had skyrocketed because it was too easy for electricity utilities to count burning wood pellets as reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Mr. Döry said that a number of European panel-makers had already gone out of business and that the E.U. authorities needed to change their rules on bioenergy.

The accounting error "is really serious," he said.

"We are in the crazy situation that there are economic incentives in place to burn one of our most important raw materials to the detriment of environment and economy," he said.





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Thursday, September 22, 2011

[biofuelwatch] FW: Launch of the European Forest Sector Outlook Study II 2010-2030



FYI, especially for those who focus on Wood-based bioenergy.

-----Original Message-----
From: bounce-1142482-252499@lists.iisd.ca [mailto:bounce-1142482-252499@lists.iisd.ca] On Behalf Of ECE-FAOforests
Sent: jueves, septiembre 22, 2011 9:32 AM
To: Forest Policy Info Mailing List
Subject: Launch of the European Forest Sector Outlook Study II 2010-2030

Europeans have high expectations of their forests which must meet increasing and sometimes conflicting environmental, social and economic demands. Policy makers must balance the conservation of biodiversity, the need to sequester and store carbon, adaptation to a changing climate and the provision of opportunities for recreation and leisure, while also supplying wood for energy and raw material use.

The European Forest Sector Outlook Study II (EFSOS II), which covers the EU 27, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, provides pictures of the consequences of today's policy choices for the forest of tomorrow.

A reference scenario and four policy scenarios have been prepared for the European forest sector between 2010 and 2030, covering the forest resource and forest products. The scenarios are based on the results of several different modelling approaches, and in particular of econometric projections of production and consumption of forest products, the Wood Resource Balance, the European Forest Information Scenario model (EFISCEN), the European Forest Institute - Global Forest Sector Model (EFI-GTM), and competitiveness analysis.

The four policy scenarios (Maximising biomass carbon, Priority to biodiversity, Promoting wood energy, Fostering innovation and competitiveness) help policy makers gain insights into the consequences of certain policy choices. These choices are assessed according to their sustainability and recommendations are proposed based on the trade-offs facing policy makers. Decision makers are encouraged to reflect upon these analyses and to consider them when
taking possible future policy actions.

The study is available at: http://live.unece.org/forests/outlook/welcome.html

For further information please contact:

David Ellul
Economic Affairs Officer
UNECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section
UNECE Trade and Sustainable Land Management Division
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Tel: +41 (0)22 917 1390
Fax: +41 (0)22 917 0041
E-mail: info.timber@unece.org
Website: http://www.unece.org/forests


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[biofuelwatch] Fwd: Tree Plantations Are The Problem, Not The Solution



www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=146141

Tree Plantations Are The Problem, Not The Solution

Tuesday, September 20, 2011
COSTA RICA – Today, Friends of the Earth International, together with many social movements around the world, are celebrating the International Day Against Monoculture Tree Plantations. This annual event aims to expose the negative impacts caused by large-scale tree plantations on local communities and the environment. [1]

"We are campaigning in every continent to expose that large scale monoculture tree plantations have serious effects on the environment and local communities. They are not a solution to climate change nor to biodiversity loss. Tree plantations are a big concern in many countries," said Isaac Rojas, Friends of the Earth International coordinator of the Forest and Biodiversity Program.

"Friends of the Earth is taking action around the world: our groups in Argentina, Brazil, Belgium, Colombia, Costa Rica, Uruguay, Mexico, the United States, Uganda, and Indonesia, among others, organize actions ranging from publicising new studies to demonstrating and other forms of public denunciation", said Rojas.

According to a ground-breaking article in the leading scientific journal Nature published on September 14, the rapid conversion of tropical forests for timber production, agriculture, and other uses has caused dire consequences for tropical biodiversity. [2]

Friends of the Earth groups in Asia and Africa are fighting the expansion of palm oil tree plantations destined for agrofuel production, while Friends of the Earth groups in Latin America are fighting eucalyptus and other monoculture tree plantations grown for export. In Europe, Friends of the Earth is campaigning against consumerism, which is one of the underlying causes of the expansion of monoculture tree plantations.

"Instead of plantations, our groups are proposing the community management and use of forests and agroecology practices that return control of the territory to communities" said Rojas. "In this way we contribute to building sustainable societies different from the ruling consumerist model".

"Tree plantations are becoming a new form of land grabbing" said Kirtana Chandrasekaran, co-coordinator of the land rights project of Friends of the Earth International. "Transnational corporations arrive in a certain territory, put a plantation there and bit by bit expand to cover vast areas of land. Communities who do not join the project often suffer threats. We have seen this in cases of landgrabbing from Colombia to Indonesia."

"Community rights are violated when export oriented, profit driven tree plantations destroy the cultural and biological diversities maintained by the sustainable community management of forests. With tree plantations, corporations have captured access, control and management of forest land and resources, from communities, depriving them of their means of subsistence, and destroying the goods and services they had collectively benefited from forests" said Romel de Vera, co-coordinator of the land rights project of Friends of the Earth International.

Testimonies and case studies collected by Friends of the Earth groups show that plantations have very serious impacts on the local population and the environment, and they fail to fulfill the promises of job creation, sustainable development, climate change mitigation and biodiversity protection.

"There is an underlying problem in the definition of forests used by the United Nations" said Sebastian Valdomir, coordinator of the Economic Justice Program of Friends of the Earth International. "The definition includes plantations and therefore promotes them. It labels them as 'planted forests'. But tree plantations are not forests: they do not have the biodiversity of forests and they have nothing to offer to Indigenous Peoples and local peasant communities".

Large-scale tree plantations are not compatible with the solutions urgently needed to tackle the climate crisis and to preserve biodiversity.

These solutions include:

- Implementing and promoting 'community management of forests' (regulations and practices used by many communities for the conservation and sustainable use of forests);

- Implementing and promoting food sovereignty, which is the peoples' right to sufficient, nutritious, healthy, ecologically-produced and culturally adequate food, as well as implementing the corresponding public policies;

- Stopping consumerism, which is one of the underlying causes of the expansion of monoculture tree plantations.

"This is a very significant year in the celebration of life, and in the celebration of the resistance against tree plantations" said Isaac Rojas. "Ricardo Carrere of the World Rainforest Movement died last August 16. He was one of the biggest advocates of this day and he made a huge contribution around the world to the struggle against monoculture tree plantations. Friends of the Earth and other social movements around the world remember him today. It is our tribute to a dear friend and colleague".

NOTES TO EDITORS

[1] Several social movements declared September 21 'The International Day Against Monoculture Tree Plantations'. Every year there are actions around the world to expose that large scale monoculture tree plantations have serious environmental, social, cultural as well as land grabbing impacts.

[2] An abstract of the study is online at http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature10425.html


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[biofuelwatch] Oxfam warns of spiralling land grab in developing countries



www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/sep/22/oxfam-land-grab-developing-countries

Oxfam warns of spiralling land grab in developing countries

Many of world's poorest 'being left worse off by unprecedented land deals', despite claims by governments and speculators

John Vidal
22 September 2011

The scale of the rush by speculators, pension funds and global agri-businesses to acquire large areas of developing countries is far greater than previously thought, and is already leading to conflict, hunger and human rights abuses, says Oxfam.

The NGO has identified 227m ha (561m acre ha) of land – an area the size of north-west Europe – as having being reportedly sold, leased or licensed, largely in Africa and mostly to international investors in thousands of secretive deals since 2001. This compares with about 56m ha identified by the World Bank earlier this year, again predominantly in Africa.

The new land rush, which was triggered by food riots, a series of harvest failures following major droughts and the western investors moving out of the US property market in 2008, is being justified by governments and speculators in the name of growing food for hungry people and biofuels for environmental benefit.

But, says Oxfam, "many of the deals are in fact 'land grabs' where the rights and needs of the people previously living on the land are ignored, leaving them homeless and without land to grow enough food to eat and make a living".

"Many of the world's poorest people are being left worse off by the unprecedented pace of land deals and the frenetic competition for land. The blinkered scramble for land by investors is ignoring the people who live on the land and rely on it to survive," said Oxfam chief executive Dame Barbara Stocking.

Oxfam expects the land grabbing to increase as populations grow. The report said: "The huge increase in demand for food will need to be met by land resources that are under increasing pressure from climate change, water depletion, and other resource constraints, and squeezed by biofuel production, carbon sequestration and forest conservation, timber production, and non-food crops."

While some investors might claim to have experience in agricultural production, many may only be purchasing land speculatively, anticipating price increases in the coming years, a practice known as 'land banking'.

In addition, developing countries are under pressure from the IMF, the World Bank and other regional banks to put farmland on the international market to increase economic development and improve the balance of payments.

Much of the land grabbing has being driven by the expansion of sugar cane and oil palm for biofuel production. "Thousands of people have been persuaded to part with their land on the basis of false promises in Indonesia, or have been evicted from their lands and their homes in Uganda, Guatemala and Honduras," says the report.

Most of the land deals done in Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Mozambique Senegal, and Tanzania have been to grow crops for export commodities, including cut flowers as well as biofuels. In Mozambique, where approximately 35% of households are chronically food insecure, only 32,000 ha out of the 433,000 approved for land deals between 2007 and 2009 were for food crops.

The report said: "Unrestricted export clauses in contracts, together with small-scale food producers losing their key productive asset, may well worsen rather than improve food security. Moreover, investors' short time scales may tempt them into unsustainable cultivation practices, undermining food production in the long-term.

Stocking called on the EU to scrap the incentive offered to investors to grow biofuel crops, and organisations like the World Bank to ensure that local people are consulted on land deals.

"Governments should avoid pandering to investors' wishes, and prioritise existing land use rights – not just where legal land title or formal ownership rights are held," said the report.

Stocking said: "Land investment has great potential to help people work themselves out of poverty, but the current rush for land is leaving people worse off. Global action is crucial if we are to protect local people from losing what little they have for the profits of a few, and build towards a tomorrow where everyone has enough."

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

UK groups ask government to rethink biomass





See also:

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2011/09/wood-industry-opposes-biomass.php


Groups call for government re-think on biomass

12.09.2011
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Groups such as the Wood Panel Industries Association [WIPA] believe that the UK government should re-think the amount that it intends to depend upon biomass.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change is due to meet to decide upon the future level of subsidies through the renewable obligation certificate system in the coming months.

WIPA doesn't believe that biomass is carbon-friendly and the huge increase in wood prices will claim many jobs.

The RSPB wildlife campaign group also feels that it is "by no means certain" that biomass is a low-carbon energy source, suggesting that Britain's dependence on imported wood makes the sustainability of biomass far harder to measure.

Friends of the Earth has also expressed concern about the large-scale increase of biomass from overseas, which it says could create terrible deforestation in the developing world.

Last month, the UK Renewable Energy Association launched its Back Biomass campaign in order to convince the government to continue with increased support for the alternative energy.

This news item is brought to you by KMS Baltics in conjunction with Fest-Forest and EST KINNISVARA. Baltic forestry and property specialists.

Click here to find out more about Forestry Investment with us http://www.kms.ee/index.php?page=75& or call us on 00441668 213693. 
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