Sunday, October 30, 2011

[biofuelwatch] UK firm's failed biofuel dream wrecks lives of Tanzania villagers | Environment | The Observer





http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/oct/30/africa-poor-west-biofuel-betrayal

Andrew
Councillor Andrew Boswell
Green Party County Councillor for Nelson ward
E: andrewboswell@fastmail.co.uk; T: 01603-613798, M 07787127881



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[biofuelwatch] UK Radio 4 The Food Programme: Palm Oil





http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b016kgv1

  1. Palm Oil

Palm Oil

Listen :

Next on:

Today, 12:32 on BBC Radio 4

Synopsis

Episode image for Palm Oil Used increasingly by the food industry in a wide array of products from chocolate, crisps, ready meals to sweets, palm oil is both a controversial ingredient and, for many, an unknown one.
Used for centuries as a cooking oil in West Africa, palm oil has properties that make it a highly desirable and affordable component in food production. It is also used widely in animal feed, and in ever-larger quantities in South-East Asia as a cooking oil.
The target of several high-profile campaigns highlighting environmental damage caused by the rapid unchecked spread of palm plantations, it currently does not have to be labelled as palm oil, only 'vegetable fat' or 'vegetable oil'.
Dan Saladino goes on a journey to find out why the global use of this oil is growing so fast, and speaks to some of the key players in the palm oil world.
Tim Hayward meets Lloyd Mensah from Ghanaian street-food caterers Jollof Pot to discover palm oil's use in traditional West-Africa cuisine.
Dan follows the trail of this infamous and ubiquitous substance, ending at the Liverpool refinery of New Britain Palm Oil. Despite all the difficulties that the industry faces he asks if palm oil - actually an incredibly efficient, high-yielding crop - is the future for food?
Produced by Dan Saladino and Rich Ward.

Cutting an oil palm tree

Lloyd Mensah of 'Jollof Pot'

Oil Palm Fruit Bunches

Oil Palm Fruits


[Ends]




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[biofuelwatch] Forest waste bioenergy usually worsens carbon emissions - study





1.  http://portlandtribune.com/sustainable/story.php?story_id=131948268603948900

Study says using forest waste for energy adds to carbon emissions
OSU scientists pivotal in research

By Steve Law

The Portland Tribune, Oct 24, 2011

A major effort to use forest waste to produce energy from West Coast forests would add to carbon dioxide emissions at least 14 percent, compared to current forest operations, according to a study published Sunday in the journal "Nature Climate Change." The study was conducted by scientists from the College of Forestry at Oregon State University and colleagues in France and Germany.

Researchers, supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, looked at 80 forest types and 19 bio-regions in Oregon, Washington and California, including public and private forest lands and different forest management practices.

"Most people assume that wood bioenergy will be carbon-neutral, because the forest re-grows and there's also the chance of protecting forests from carbon emissions due to wildfire," said Tara Hudiburg, a doctoral candidate at OSU and lead author of the study. "However, our research showed that the emissions from these activities proved to be more than the savings." 

The only exception, researchers said, was for forests in high fire-risk zones that become weakened by insects or drought, which impairs their growth and ability to sequester carbon.

"Until now there have been a lot of misconceptions about impacts of forest thinning, fire prevention and biofuels production as it relates to carbon emissions from forests," said Beverly Law, a professor in the OSU Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society, and co-author of the study. 

"If our ultimate goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, producing bioenergy from forests will be counterproductive," Law said. "Some of these forest management practices may also have negative impacts on soils, biodiversity and habitat. These issues have not been thought out very fully."



2.      http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2011/10/forest-biofuel-greenhouse-gas-emissions.html


Forest biofuel projects could increase West Coast carbon emissions

Forest thinningThinning West Coast forests on a widespread scale to feed bioenergy projects would increase the region's production of greenhouse gases, according to a new study.
Research published Oct. 23 in the journal  Nature Climate Change undermines the argument that substituting wood-based biofuel for fossil fuels would reduce carbon emissions.
"Most people assume that wood bioenergy will be carbon-neutral, because the forest re-grows and there's also the chance of protecting forests from carbon emissions due to wildfire," said Tara Hudiburg, the paper's lead author and an Oregon State University doctoral student in the College of Forestry. "However, our research showed that the emissions from these activities proved to be more than the savings."
Using data from thousands of forest plots in Oregon, Washington and California, Hudiburg and her co-authors calculated carbon storage and emissions under current forest management practices and then projected changes under three different thinning/biofuel scenarios.
Two involved thinning of varying intensity in fire-prone forests in the three states. The third called for widespread harvesting of trees up to 2 feet in diameter on public and private lands. The study assumed the harvested wood be burned to produce heat and power, converted to cellulosic ethanol and, in the case of larger, more valuable trees, milled into wood products.
The scientists took into account carbon dioxide emissions in harvesting, transportation and biofuel production as well as carbon credits for reducing wildfire and fossil fuel emissions, and long-term storage in lumber for housing. In some areas with relatively low forest productivity and high fire frequency, greenhouse gas emissions did not rise under the treatment scenarios. But in most they did.
"We are not saying that any project will increase emissions compared to current levels, whether they are from decomposition, wildfire, or harvest," Hudiburg said in an email. "We are saying that on average, this is what happens in West Coast forests, and if implemented widely will increase regional emissions -- contrary to policy goals." 
Total West Coast carbon emissions rose 2%, 6% or 14% under the three treatment schemes.
The study dealt solely with emissions and did not consider other potential benefits of forest thinning, such as reducing wildfire risk, which is projected to increase with global warming.
"In this study region," the authors wrote, carbon storage in forests "is more beneficial in contributing to reduction of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions than increasing harvest to substitute fossil fuels with bioenergy from forests."




3.  http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v1/n8/full/nclimate1264.html

Regional carbon dioxide implications of forest bioenergy production

Hudiburg et. al., Nature Climate Change, vol.1 pp.419–423, 2011 -- published
online 23rd October 2011

Strategies for reducing carbon dioxide emissions include substitution of
fossil fuel with bioenergy from forests1, where carbon emitted is expected to
be recaptured in the growth of new biomass to achieve zero net emissions2, and
forest thinning to reduce wildfire emissions3. Here, we use forest inventory
data to show that fire prevention measures and large-scale bioenergy harvest in
US West Coast forests lead to 2–14% (46–405 Tg C) higher emissions compared
with current management practices over the next 20 years. We studied 80 forest
types in 19 ecoregions, and found that the current carbon sink in 16 of these
ecoregions is sufficiently strong that it cannot be matched or exceeded through
substitution of fossil fuels by forest bioenergy. If the sink in these
ecoregions weakens below its current level by 30–60 g C m−2 yr−1 owing to
insect infestations, increased fire emissions or reduced primary production,
management schemes including bioenergy production may succeed in jointly
reducing fire risk and carbon emissions. In the remaining three ecoregions,
immediate implementation of fire prevention and biofuel policies may yield net
emission savings. Hence, forest policy should consider current forest carbon
balance, local forest conditions and ecosystem sustainability in establishing
how to decrease emissions.

[Ends]



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Thursday, October 27, 2011

[biofuelwatch] Fwd: Legal Setback Will Not Deter Action to Stop Engineered Eucalyptus Trees



http://globaljusticeecology.org/stopgetrees.php?ID=583&tabs=2

For Immediate Release: October 26, 2011

Legal Setback Will Not Deter Action to Stop Engineered Eucalyptus Trees

Court Rules Secret Genetically Engineered Tree Test Plots Do Not Need Environmental Oversight

Miami, Florida—On October 7, 2011, the 11th Circuit U.S. District Court for Southern Florida ruled that the planting of more than a quarter of a million genetically engineered (GE) non-native eucalyptus trees can proceed in secret test plots across seven southern states. [1] The ruling was the result of a lawsuit filed against the USDA, which approved the test plots. The suit to stop the dangerous GE tree test plots from moving forward was filed on July 1st, 2010 by six organizations: Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, The Dogwood Alliance, Global Justice Ecology Project, the International Center for Technology Assessment and Sierra Club.

While the October 7th court ruling approved the test plots, it left the door open for future challenges to the large-scale commercial planting of these trees.

"We are not at all discouraged," stated Dr. Neil Carman of the Sierra Club. "Although it denied our claims, the court noted that the agency and industry will have to address the potential harmful impacts of GE eucalyptus trees in any proposed commercial approval. We will remain vigilant and fully involved in this process to ensure these issues are addressed and prevented."

The ruling favors ArborGen, the corporation that designed the GE trees and hopes to sell half a billion per year for planting in the U.S. South. [2] The court's decision was made despite serious concerns raised, not only by environmental groups, but by government agencies including the Florida Exotic Plant Pest Council, the Georgia Department of Wildlife, and the US Forest Service. These concerns include documented impacts of eucalyptus trees, such as water depletion, displacement of wildlife, invasiveness and firestorms. These concerns are magnified because these GE eucalyptus trees have been engineered to tolerate cold so they can grow and spread outside of their natural geographic boundaries.

Because of these serious concerns, during the USDA comment period on the test plots, nearly 20,000 people demanded the GE eucalyptus trees be rejected.

Anne Petermann, Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project, which has offices in Vermont and Oakland, points out, "ArborGen's GE eucalyptus trees are an ecological nightmare. Eucalyptus are so invasive, they've been likened to Kudzu, the non-native vine that has devoured large areas of land in the U.S. South. [3] But eucalyptus are worse—they are flammable kudzu. Growing them in plantations across millions of acres of the U.S. South, which ArborGen's parent companies International Paper and MeadWestvaco hope to do, could lead to horrific wildfires. Texas is one of the states targeted for these plantations – the last thing it needs is more wildfires."

The Georgia Wildlife Resources Division also echoed the wildfire concern, "The leaves of eucalyptus trees produce large amounts of volatile oils [allowing] accumulation of highly combustible fuels. Consequently, dense eucalyptus plantations are subject to catastrophic firestorms. Once ignited, these fires would grow vigorously, potentially spreading to other properties." [4] Georgia is one of the states currently experiencing exceptional drought.

This month marks the 20-year anniversary of the devastating Oakland, California firestorms, which burned 1,520 acres and destroyed more than 3,800 dwellings, causing economic loss estimated at $1.5 billion. The presence of eucalyptus trees contributed greatly to this catastrophic firestorm. [5]

The U.S. Forest Service submitted comments to the USDA noting that GE eucalyptus will require twice as much water as other forests in the South, "whether it is planted or invades native forests." Stream flow, the Forest Service added, "would be about 20% lower in eucalyptus plantations than pine plantations." [6] Several states where eucalyptus test plots have been approved are already in an exceptional drought.

The Georgia Wildlife Resources Division added, "Eucalyptus plantations will be extremely inhospitable environments for native flora and fauna." "…we have serious concerns about potential impacts on hydrology, soil chemistry, native biodiversity, and ecosystem functions," the state agency said.

The Florida Exotic Plant Pest Council also recommended rejecting ArborGen's request for GE eucalyptus test plots based on their potential for invasiveness. "Invasive plants negatively affect our native species…" E. grandis, one of the parent species of this GE hybrid, is a known invasive in Florida, South Africa, New Zealand and Ecuador. The Florida agency further warned that the cold tolerance trait of the GE eucalyptus increases the threat of invasiveness. "If sterility of the [GE eucalyptus] is not permanent and 100% … the [GE eucalyptus] itself may acquire the ability to become invasive across the southeastern U.S." [7]

"It's a sad state of affairs that the courts ignored the communities, organizations and landowners of the South who have serious concerns about the impacts of these trees and want to see them stopped," said Scot Quaranda, Campaign Director at Dogwood Alliance, a plaintiff in the case. "The decision opens the door for ArborGen's Frankentrees to release seeds into the wild. Neighboring landowners are not even aware of the threat, since there's no requirement that the company disclose the locations of the GE eucalyptus trees. This is an outrageous failure of oversight."

###

NOTES:

[1] http://globaljusticeecology.org/files/10-06-11%20GE%20Euc%20Decision.pdf The seven southern states include Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina.

[2] Rubicon's 2009 annual report to shareholders. The reference to ArborGen producing half a billion GE eucalyptus annually for biofuel production in the US South can be found on page 8.

[3] The organizations that sued the USDA to stop the release of the 260,000 genetically engineered trees in test plots across seven states were The Center for Biological Diversity, The Center for Food Safety, The Dogwood Alliance, Global Justice Ecology Project, the International Center for Technology Assessment and the Sierra Club

[3] A Charlotte Observer Editorial called GE eucalyptus trees, "The kudzu of the 2010s."

[4] http://globaljusticeecology.org/files/Georgia%20Wildlife%20Resources%20Div%20comments%202.pdf

[5] http://www.sfmuseum.org/oakfire/overview.html

[6] Comments submitted by the U.S. Forest Service expressing concerns about the impacts on water from the GE eucalyptus planting can be found in the Environmental Assessment, Appendix III

[7] http://globaljusticeecology.org/files/FL%20Exotic%20Pest%20Plant%20Council%20comments%201.pdf

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

[biofuelwatch] Email action asking FAO for a proper definition of forest excluding plantations



https://www.rainforest-rescue.org/mailalert/781/plantations-are-not-forests

The world's forests are endangered, but they are still disappearing at a breathtaking pace. Annually, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), a specialised agency of the United Nations that is responsible for forestry, examines the tree population and the extent of deforestation worldwide. Currently, the FAO estimates that 13 million hectares of forest are lost – every year. This means that a forest area the size of 35 football fields is cleared every minute.


According to the FAO, this dramatic development is slowed by means of afforestation. "Ambitious tree planting programmes in countries such as China, India, the United States and Viet Nam – combined with natural expansion of forests in some regions – have added more than seven million hectares of new forests annually", the FAO explains in its current forest review.


Furthermore, the FAO defines what forests are in the eyes of the United Nations: "Land spanning more than 0.5 hectares with trees higher than 5 meters and a canopy cover of more than 10 percent, or trees able to reach these thresholds in situ."


This definition also includes industrial tree monocultures that are consequently counted as forests by the FAO. Every year, such plantations are established on millions of hectares of land in order to appease our insatiable hunger for cheap raw materials to make paper and pulp and, more recently, for biomass to convert into electricity and heat. In many cases natural forests are cleared for this purpose. On the deforested areas, mainly cloned (i.e. genetically identical), coeval and exotic eucalyptus, pine and acacia trees are planted in orderly rows. These plantations have disastrous consequences for the environment, the climate and the people.


Further information on timber plantations


The FAO's definition of "forest" is adopted by all UN institutions such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as well as many other organisations and governments around the globe. Germany is the FAO's third-largest contributor.


That is why the environmental and human rights organisations that support "World Rainforest Movement" (WRM) urge the FAO and the UN to change this false definition immediately. To this end, 600 scientists and experts from all over the world already approached the FAO in an open letter back in September. In November, the next round of the UN climate talks (COP 17/MOP 7) is going to take place in South Africa. Please support our campaign.


and the letter states:


Dear Mr. Diouf,

the FAO defines "forest" as "land spanning more than 0.5 hectares with trees higher than 5 meters and a canopy cover of more than 10 percent, or trees able to reach these thresholds in situ."(*)

Under this definition, it has been possible to replace primary forests with monoclonal plantations of genetically engineered exotic tree species, without this being considered as deforestation. This definition has also made it possible to use the term "forest" to refer to the industrial monoculture tree plantations that are expanding at the expense of the destruction of other ecosystems.

Matters are made worse by the fact that other UN organizations and initiatives, such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, as well as numerous national governments, implement this definition in negotiations, programmes and policies. In addition, this definition is used as the basis for a good number of studies and actions.

We believe that the definition currently used by FAO must be changed. It falls far short of considering the structural complexity of forest ecosystems, which are diverse, multi-stratified and functionally complex. It also fails to recognize the capacity of forests to provide ecosystem services that are crucial for humankind, such as the preservation of biodiversity or the storage of carbon, nor does it consider the fundamental role that forests play in the lives of local populations. Grouping tree plantations and diverse natural forests together under the same definition leads to the adoption of mistaken decisions. The current definition of forest has negative repercussions at the local and global level in that it legitimizes the expansion of industrial monoculture tree plantations, whose social, economic, environmental and cultural impacts have been widely documented and denounced.

Forests are also a major issue in climate negotiations. In November, the next round of the UN climate talks and the Kyoto Protocol (COP 17/MOP 7) is going to take place in South Africa.

For all these reasons, I reject the FAO's current definition of "forest" and urge the FAO to launch a global consultation process in order to revise this definition completely. The UN and the FAO are in urgent need of a correct definition of "forest".

Sincerely,

(*) FAO, Global Forest Ressources Assessment 2010, Main report, Annex 2. Terms and definitions used in FRA 2010. Page 209 &#8232;http://www.fao.org/docrep/013/i1757e/i1757e.pdf

-----------------------------------------------------

Since 24.10.2011 1585 people have participated in this protest action.

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[biofuelwatch] Dayaks want to end ancestral land grab



www.thejakartapost.com/news/2011/10/26/dayaks-want-end-ancestral-land-grab.html

Dayaks want to end ancestral land grab

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Wed, 10/26/2011

Members of the Dayak Ngaju tribe in Central Kalimantan say they have lost their ancestors' land to the government, oil palm plantations and mining companies.

Representatives from four villages claimed that they have been barred from their ancestors' lands since the government's One Million Hectare Peatland Project (PLG) started in 1996.

Local residents, who lack ownership documents, said the lands were customary forests passed on from generation to generation.

"All of the programs, as well as corporate oil palm plantations and mining, have violated our rights to the land, which we inherited from previous generations," Ketunjung village resident Abdul Hamid told reporters at a press conference at the Indonesian Forum for the Environment's (Walhi) headquarters in Jakarta.

Abdul also said that the villages had lost their forests to carbon emission reduction programs, such as the government's REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) initiatives.

Community leader Siga E Saman said that the government should return their land and guarantee the rights of local residents. "We won't beg to survive any longer once we have our land back."

April Perlindungan, a representative of the Yayasan Petak Daun (YPD) environmental NGO in Central Kalimantan, said projects in the area would not preserve the environment.

"Preserving the environment is only an excuse to take over the land, which will later be made available to investors," he said.

The 1.4 million hectares of peatland forests previously run under the PLG are currently allotted to REDD+ projects, Forest Production Management Units (KPHP) and Forest Protection Management Units (KPHL), mining companies and oil palm plantations.

"The status of the land may be unclear — but it is clear that all of those activities destroy the life of the people," he said.

According to Walhi, 54,384 hectares of the forest was given to REDD+ initiatives, while eleven unlicensed oil palm companies were also operating on 351.8 hectares, Wahli alleged.

Separately, Forestry Ministry general secretary Hadi Daryanto said that the ministry created the Free Prior Information Concern (FPIC) mechanism for REDD+ projects to prioritize local concerns and avoid ownership conflicts.

"The mechanism provides a way for residents to participate in developing the forest. It also obliges the distribution of 75 percent of benefits of programs or projects to the residents. This is a solution for the customary forest issue."

Any oil palm companies convicted of illegal operation would hand over their land to the government, which would then encourage local residents to comment on the land's development through the forest village system, Hadi said.

Hadi said local residents benefitted from many government programs, including REDD+ initiatives.

"The people, for example, are taught to farm," he said.

Nurhadi, the Dayak Ngaju community leader, said that local residents did not need help from the government learn about farming or forest preservation.

"We live in the forest. We know how to protect it. Our local wisdom teaches us to respect forests," he said.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

[biofuelwatch] Indonesia: Monoculture pulpwood plantations are not forest



www.thejakartapost.com/news/2011/10/10/monoculture-pulpwood-plantations-are-not-forest.html

Monoculture pulpwood plantations are not forest
Muhammad Teguh Surya, Jakarta | Mon, 10/10/2011

The idea of Indonesian monoculture pulpwood plantations, better known as Hutan Tanaman Industri (HTI), has actually been in place since the Dutch colonial era.

In 1847, the Dutch government requested two German foresters, Mollier and Nemich, to design a forest-farming system for Java in a bid to address the rising demand of teak for the shipbuilding industry owned by Chinese and Dutch entrepreneurs, which was scattered along the northern coast of Java from Tegal to Pasuruan.

The Dutch rulers preferred the monoculture system proposed by Mollier to the multicultural system, (planting a variety of trees), proposed by Nemich because the former was economically more profitable and met the demands for timber at that time (Nurjaya, 2008; Wikipedia, 2008).

The industrial plantation initiative itself was first introduced by the government in a seminar in 1984 on timber estates as part of its efforts to rehabilitate critical and unproductive forest areas. The term HTI has been increasingly referred to since then.

The government formalized HTI into various regulating policies, including Government Regulation (PP) No. 7/1990 on the Rights of Industrial Plantation Forest Control; PP No. 34/2000 on Forest Governance and Forest Management Planning, Forest Utilization and the Use of Forest Areas; and the Forestry Minister's Decree No. 10.1/kpts-II/2000 on the Guidelines for Granting Permits for Timber Utilization. None of the three policies clearly define HTI or, consequently, define what can be called a forest.

The use of the term HTI in any government policy relating to the development of monoculture pulpwood plantations is clearly an act of obscuring a meaning that has political, economic and ecological consequences. When HTI is considered a forest, then the process of clearing the remaining natural forest is deemed legitimate, assuming that when the natural forests are exhausted, they will be replaced by HTI.

This is in line with the definition of deforestation by the World Bank (1990), which implies that deforestation is the loss of forest coverage that cannot produce timber. It is ironic that Indonesia's forests, with their high biodiversity value and function as a source of local inhabitants' livelihoods, are reduced to a mere source of timber by the government and the World Bank.

There are stark differences in the characteristics of forests and plantations. A forest's basic characteristics comprise a multistory canopy coupled with biodiversity, a continuous existence, a hydrologic function and a distinctive ecosystem. HTI, on the other hand, do not have these basic characteristics, and as timber plantations, they cannot be compared with other plantations such as rubber, tea, coffee and palm (Notoha diningrat, 2006).

Confusing, or merging, the meaning and definition of forests into plantations represents certain interests that are dominated by global interests, as evidenced by the increasingly large areas of forest coverage that are lost due to the mounting demand per capita of urban society and global demands for processed wood, pulp and paper.

Furthermore, the government categorizes HTI into three types. First, HTI pulp is a monoculture plantation designed primarily to supply materials for the pulp industry, with planted tree species like acacia. Second, HTI carpentry is a monoculture plantation designed primarily to supply materials for carpentry and other wood industries. Third, other HTI is a monoculture plantation designed to supply the timber industry and others.

However, HTI pulp is the one that has gained attention from the government for development. It is at least based on the development of the export value of the forestry industry, which during the period 1985 — 2004, started to slowly gain a sizable foreign exchange contribution from plywood products to pulp and paper (Suhermanto), and an increasing consumption of paper per capita in all countries, as well as high pulp prices in the international market, ranging between US$750-930/ton for long fibers and $810-865/ton for short fibers (BBPK, 2008).

Unfortunately, for 17 years (1989

—2006) the government was only able to develop 3.03 million hectares of monoculture plantations from the 10.2 million hectares planned, although various facilities were also given to employers during that period. It can be understood that monoculture plantations are a serious threat to Indonesia's natural forests and the wrong answer for various issues in the forestry industry.

For example, to be able to produce one ton of pulp, 4.6 cubic meters of wood is required. Each single ton of pulp can produce 1.2 tons of paper, while a hectare of acacia monoculture pulpwood plantation is capable of producing 160 cubic meters of wood with a planting cycle and harvesting for 6 years (Syumanda, 2008). If the total production of Indonesian pulp currently reaches 6.4 tons per year, then 29.44 million cubic meters of wood are required per year (Sinar Harapan, 2006). Imagine how many million hectares of forest are needed for HTI, while currently there are 14 pulp and seven pulp and paper factories in operation.

History has revealed that issues in the forestry industry are not only concerned with raw materials, but also include issues of policy inconsistency, discrimination, legal uncertainty, labor regulations, business assurance and land certainty, which have never been thoroughly discussed to find a solution.

The government has overlooked the issues, thus providing various facilities to entrepreneurs that should not be given because this country will lose its bargaining position in business negotiations. Various social issues, environmental degradation and human rights violations implicating corporations have never been fully resolved by the government because, from the beginning, entrepreneurs were not treated the same as everybody else.

The government seems both reluctant to learn from past failures and also unable to appreciate the purpose of investment, namely that investment is needed for the prosperity and welfare of the people, not vice versa.

The government should review the engine capacity of each timber industry, and pulp and paper facility, and compare them with the availability of raw materials. They should also focus on the fulfillment of domestic needs, and allocate reforestation funds to the ecological restoration process of vital ecological areas that have been degraded.

The consumption model of urban residents should also be reformed so that the pressure on natural forests can be reduced.

The writer is head of International Liaison and Climate Justice at WALHI (Indonesian Forum for the Environment).

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Monday, October 24, 2011

[biofuelwatch] Deforestation campaigning led to my deportation from Indonesia





Deforestation campaigning led to my deportation from Indonesia

It's no coincidence that my expulsion came after witnessing the huge tracts of rainforest cleared by Asia Pulp and Paper



Excerpts:

So, why was I deported? Currently, I work on the campaign to reform the practices of Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), an Indonesian company which, as our growing dossier of evidence shows, is still destroying huge tracts of rainforest. I work with our international team across a range of countries to find ways to encourage APP to change and to expose its extraordinary greenwash. I am also in regular contact with some of the major international businesses that have recently suspended contracts with APP. Before this I had been working with my Indonesian colleagues who negotiated with Golden Agri Resources (GAR), which – like APP – is part of the Sinar Mas group. Earlier this year, GAR introduced a new forest conservation policy and this new approach is regarded as the most progressive in the palm oil industry. If fully implemented, it could have hugely positive impacts across the whole sector.

I was allowed to depart for the trip and while a number of "administrative hurdles" were placed in our way en route, we were able to see some of the areas of deforestation caused by APP suppliers.These are areas the company claims are degraded and therefore suitable for clearing and replacing with plantations. But as soon as you see it for yourself, it's obvious it's not degraded. Our experience is that they are continuing to clear huge swaths of natural forest, much of it on areas of deep peat, and much of it in areas mapped as habitat for the endangered Sumatran tiger.
The more attention the issue gets, the more efforts the company throws at countering it. In Indonesia, this centres on trying to discredit the investigations of organisations like Greenpeace.

There is also a newspaper advert that states that, in order to see APP's commitment to conservation, you just need to follow their tracks. Well, last weekend my Indonesian colleagues and I did just that. The tracks that we saw the company leaving are those left by the miles and miles of canals which have been cut through the vast peatlands in order to drain them. Those canals are followed by the tracks of caterpillar diggers bulldozing their way through hectare after hectare of natural forest, clearing and stacking the timber before it's transported to APP mills. The tracks left by APP are the tracks of the destruction on an industrial scale of Sumatra's rainforests.
This house of cards the company has built has already started to fall down. Mattel was the latest in a long line of major international brands to suspend contracts with APP.

• Andy Tait is a senior campaigns adviser at Greenpeace

Read more: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/oct/24/deforestation-deportation-indonesia?intcmp=122





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[biofuelwatch] Newly Launched Renewable Energy Consultation met by Activist Fury





[Photos on Indymedia article]


Newly Launched Renewable Energy Consultation met by Activist Fury
Action Against Agrofuels | 23.10.2011 15:35 

Members of Action Against Agrofuels, dressed in Orangutan suits, climbed 10m up trees above The Mall 200m from Buckingham Palace with a vast banner reading "Biomassacre: Don't subsidise it" as the government consultation on renewable energy subsidies commences.
 
Biomassacre - Don't subsidise it

Activists are furious that the most unsustainable and environmentally 
damaging form of energy is being branded `green' and wins one of the 
highest levels of subsidies for power generation. This, activists state 
diverts venture capital away from true renewables such as wind and solar. 

This follows a gathering of about 80 protesters outside DECC (the 
Department of Energy and Climate Change) called by Biofuelwatch and the 
Campaign against Climate Change yesterday calling for a complete halt to 
subsidising bioenergy. 

Biomass power station applications are appearing all over the UK as 
venture capitalists seek to profit from burning biofuels and wood chips. 
Activists say that subsidies are not just destroying ecosystems but are 
driving land grabs at an unprecedented rate. Land previously available 
for food production is now being taken for energy crops with serious 
implications for global food poverty. This is because consent on just the 
current planning applications would require woodchip imports of nearly six 
times the total UK production, all of which is currently allocated. 

Andrew Butler commented that "We're seeing the start of unjustified 
payments to burn wood and vegetable oil to produce electricity on an 
industrial scale, depriving millions of people of the land they need to 
grow food. We're also seeing an onslaught on the world's last great 
forests exacerbating biodiversity loss and climate change. To cap it all, 
we're being forced to pay for this with mandatory surcharges on our energy 
bills." 

Ironically even the government's own think tank the RFA, and more recently 
the European Environment Agency2 as well as the UN Environment Programme3 
have all cautioned that liquid biofuels and biomass (wood chip and wood 
pellets) could speed up deforestation, land grabs and climate change. 

Burning biomass also has severe local impacts. Increased air pollution 
from particulate toxins and arsenic released when liquid biofuels and in 
particular wood chips are burnt are set to trigger health problems on an 
unprecedented scale. 

Ali Connolly stated "At home too the impacts are devastating. Ex-minister 
Jim Fitzpatrick acknowledged research stating that the health cost to the 
British public from toxic emissions at 1.5 million life years annually. 
The coalition government is condemning all those living within the 
vicinity of these power stations to an early grave." 

The consultation document confirms subsidy proposals of 1.5 ROCs 
(Renewable Obligation Certificates) for bioenergy beyond 2013. This is an 
unprecedented bonanza amounting to £3billion of free money just for the 
bioenergy power stations already proposed. A flood of new applications 
will undoubtedly follow. 


Twitter@AgrofuelAction 


1. ROCs Consultation Information about the Consultation on the Renewables 
Obligation Banding Review can be found at 
 http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/consultations/cons_ro_review/cons_ro_review.aspx. 

2. The European Environment Agency provides independent information on the 
environment to the EU. Its September 2011 report on bioenergy stated, 
'Hence, legislation that encourages substitution of fossil fuels by 
bioenergy, irrespective of the biomass source, may even result in 
increased carbon emissions – thereby accelerating global warming.' The 
full report can be found 
at:
http://www.eea.europa.eu/about-us/governance/scientific- 
committee/sc-opinions/opinions-on-scientific-issues/sc-opinion-on-greenhouse-gas 
 

3. The United Nations Environment Programme 2011 Report, `The Rush for Land 
and Its Potential Environmental Consequence', can be found at 



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[biofuelwatch] Saturday's Biofuels and biomass protest outside DECC







As different actions continue across London, campaigners from across the country joined forces outside the offices of DECC yesterday to denounce the government's latest plans to carry on subsidising destructive biomass and biofuels despite the fact that their use leads to human suffering across the globe, and increased carbon emissions.
 
Protesters outside DECC from across the country
 
Protesters from across the country gather outside DECC

Protesters gathered outside the Department of Energy and Climate Change offices at noon yesterday, calling for the end of subsidies for bioenergy, in a demonstration organised by environmentl NGO Biofuelwatch with the support of Campaign against Climate Change. 

As a public consultation on the financing of renewable electricity launched last week, campaigners warn that government proposals to prioritise bioenergy over wind and solar will speed up global warming and cause human suffering across the globe. Campaigners travelled from as far as the Isle o Wight, Scotland, Bristol, Port Talbot in Wales, and Manchester to unite in a common call. 

Bioenergy currently accounts for 82.5% of the UK's renewable energy generation. But Biofuelwatch and Campaign against Climate Change warn that bioenergy power generation, which involves burning fuels such as wood pellet from Brazil and palm oil from Malaysia, speeds up deforestation, climate change and land-grabbing in the global South. Last month, the European Environment Agency cautioned that Governments across Europe are ignoring the true carbon costs of bioenergy, and that it can release more carbon emissions than traditional fossil fuels. 

However, the new government proposals will allow for a boom in biomass and energy crop imports, as biomass and bioliquids remain eligible for Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs). In addition, the proposals include new increased support for the enhanced cofiring of biomass and biomass conversion. Enhanced cofiring refers to stations which combust biomass and coal, but which will switch to full biomass in the future. 

Biofuelwatch has estimated that the existing subsidies for bioenergy have already caused a surge of at least 42 new planning applications for bioenergy power stations across the UK, which, if built, will cost the public £3 billion in subsidies each year. 

Earlier this year, the UN identified the UK as the third largest land grabbing country after China and Saudi Arabia with over a million hectares acquired for biofuel production, mostly in Africa. This area represents about 10% of UK agricultural land. 

Emilia Hanna, Biofuelwatch campaigner, said, 'Colonialism continues because of our consumption addiction in the West, in Europe, in the UK, and in the areas where people have travveled from. The government's latest proposal to continue the subsidies for biomass and bioliquids is what is fuelling our addiction. Companies are promised profit, so thay are going for biomass and bioliquids on a massive scale, with 60 million tonnes of wood and 400000 tonnes of bioliquid demanded per year. This will come mainly from overseas leading to more land grabbing and more forest destruction. We are here to show that we are united in our call of NO to subsidies for biofuels and biomass, and YES to reducing our consumption in the West.' 

Biomass use is also incredibly polluting and can release more emissions than ordinary fossil fuels, threatening people's right to live in a healthy environment. Jayne Dillon, campaigning against a biomass incinerator in Trafford, near Manchester, said, 'We are facing a proposed 25 year sentence of biomass incineration in our suburban, family-based community in Manchester. We already tolerate elevated levels of air pollution and we are determined that this dirty technology which releases a wide range of harmful emissions, including arsenic, will not be built. Too much evidence exists which associates these air pollutants with serious illnesses and deaths and this cannot not be ignored. We don't want this incinerator to operate and generate profit at the expense of our health, as the burden of decisions made now will be carried for decades.' 


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Sunday, October 23, 2011

[biofuelwatch] Sierra Leone arrests 39 in oil palm land lease dispute



Sierra Leone arrests 39 in oil palm land lease dispute


Wed Oct 12, 2011 3:59pm EDT

* Locals protest farmland deal with SOCFIN

* Police take some of those arrested to Bo

* SOCFIN part of France's Bollare Group

By Simon Akam

FREETOWN, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Sierra Leone authorities have arrested 39 protesters in the south of the West African nation, following tensions between the local population and a unit of international agro-investor Socfin .

The locals were protesting a multi-million dollar land deal in which the government is leasing to Societe Financiere des Caoutchoucs (Socfin) 12,500 hectares for oil palm production in the Pujehun district.

The initial phase of the deal is worth $112 million.

Green Scenery, an NGO in Sierra Leone, said some locals have complained they were not properly consulted and were not given information concerning the deal, signed in April.

Farmland in many developing countries has attracted foreign investors in recent years, but a U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation official last year warned some big land lease deals might risk deepening poverty and ramping up social tensions.

Green Scenery said in a statement locals had blocked Socfin operations in the area since Oct. 3 because they were angry about not receiving information on the lease agreement, in which a local chief was involved.

The statement did not give details of what information the farmers said they were deprived of.

Gerben Haringsma, the general manager of Socfin Agricultural Company Sierra Leone Ltd, told Reuters the company was investing in social projects and the protesters were in the minority.

"We tried for weeks to reason with these guys (the protesters)."

"The government decided to stop it, saying this was getting out of hand," he added.

Socfin, part of France's Bollore Group , owns more than 51,000 hectares of palm estates in Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Cameroon.

David Sesay, assistant inspector general of police for the southern region of Sierra Leone, said officers arrested 39 people on Tuesday and took 27 to the country's second city of Bo for questioning.

"The people were continually rioting, blocking the road, and impeding people from going to work," he said.

Sierra Leone was devastated by civil war between 1991 and 2002, and held presidential elections in 2007.

Since the end of hostilities the minerals-rich country with abundant resources such as iron ore, bauxite, diamonds and titanium ore, has attracted a number of foreign investors.

African Minerals is developing a site at Tonkolili in the centre of the country which it has said is potentially the world's largest deposit of the iron ore magnetite.

In the agricultural sector, alongside Socfin Swiss commodities trader Addax, has leased a large area for sugarcane for biofuel use near the town of Makeni.

"In some ways the renewed interest in agriculture is a welcome reversal of decades of underinvestment in the agricultural sector that has contributed to rural poverty and urban migration," Oli Brown, environmental affairs officer with the United Nations in Freetown, said in an email.

"However agricultural investment needs to be carefully managed and designed to ensure that it contributes to rural development and does not exacerbate food insecurity." (Editing by Bate Felix and Matthew Jones)


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Friday, October 21, 2011

RE: [biofuelwatch] Brazil plans $120 billion in infrastructure investments in the Amazon by 2020





I am wondering if this can be officially linked to the tripartite EU Brazil agreement? If anyone has any news on this, that would be great.

 

Clare

 

From: biofuelwatch@yahoogroups.com [mailto:biofuelwatch@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Almuth
Sent: 19 October 2011 21:03
To: biofuelwatch@yahoogroups.com
Subject: [biofuelwatch] Brazil plans $120 billion in infrastructure investments in the Amazon by 2020

 

 

http://news.mongabay.com/2011/1018-brazil_pac.html

Brazil plans $120 billion in infrastructure investments in the Amazon by 2020

October 19, 2011

Brazil's push to expand infrastructure in the Amazon region will require at least 212 Brazilian reals ($120 billion) in public and private sector investment by 2020, reports Folha de Sao Paulo.

Dozens of large-scale projects — including dams, high-speed rails, roads, electricity transmission systems, mines, and industrial farms — are planned or already in progress in the nine states that make up the "Legal Amazon" in Brazil. By 2020, the government aims to more than double the Amazon's share of power generation to 23 percent of national output, up from 10 percent today. The target represents 45 percent of planned energy expansion during the period.

According to Folha de Sao Paulo, the Growth Acceleration Plan (PAC) will likely require weakening of existing social and environmental laws, potentially antagonizing environmentalists.

"To accelerate the implementation of projects, the federal government is considering a series of legal changes," reports the newspaper. "Among them are expressly granting of environmental licenses, the creation of laws that allow mining on indigenous lands, and changing the system of administration of environmentally protected areas."

"The advance on the Amazon generates controversy among environmentalists, who accuse the government of repeating a model of unsustainable development... that leads to social collapse."

Brazilian companies also have ambitions in the Amazon outside of Brazil. Oil and gas development, dam projects, gold mines, industrial agriculture, and roads are major areas of investment for Brazilian firms in neighboring countries, including Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Suriname.


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[biofuelwatch] Re: Guardian: UK Cuts Energy Subsidies for Incinerators and Landfills



We will be posting more information about this, but contrary to what the article says, there are no cuts to biomass proposed, quite the opposite (with major proposed increases for subsidies for co-firing of biomass). And while there are cuts to subsidies for 'ordinary' waste incineration with CHP, proposals are for long-term high subsidies for waste an biomass 'advanced gasification' and 'advanced pyrolysis'.

Almuth

--- In biofuelwatch@yahoogroups.com, Rachel Smolker <rsmolker@...> wrote:
>
>
>
> >
> > http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/oct/20/renewable-energy-subsidies-slashed
> >
> > UK renewable energy subsidies slashed
> >
> > • Cuts to biomass, energy from waste and microgeneration
> > • Marine and offshore wind funding remains high
> >
> > Public subsidies for a range of renewable energy technologies are to
> > be cut under plans unveiled by the government on Thursday, as
> > ministers respond to complaints of "green taxes" driving up energy
> > bills.
> >
> > Power stations using biomass from plants or waste byproducts to
> > generate energy are among the worst losers, with developers
> > disappointed that their subsidy levels have been left at a level
> > they say will not encourage new projects.
> >
> > Companies generating energy from landfill gas will cease to receive
> > any subsidies at all. Projects to produce energy from waste will
> > have their subsidies slashed, and hydroelectric power will receive
> > only half the subsidy it used to.
> >
> > Gaynor Hartnell, chief executive of the Renewable Energy
> > Association, said: "If the government wants to encourage a greater
> > contribution from the very cheapest technologies, this is the wrong
> > way to go about it. No new projects have been built since 2009, at
> > the existing levels. Reducing them further cannot help."
> >
> > The savings from the subsidy cuts are likely to be small – they
> > could be as little as £400m at the lower end, and no more than £1.3bn.
> >
> > Chris Huhne, energy and climate change secretary, presented the
> > reforms as a way of "getting more for less", through cutting
> > consumer energy bills. He said the government's job was to ensure
> > the subsidies were high enough to stimulate new green energy
> > generation, but not so high as to encourage profiteering at the
> > expense of bill-payers. "We have carefully studied what the level of
> > subsidy should be, and we have pared them back [where they were]
> > unnecessary, to get a lower level of consumer bills but a higher
> > level of deployment," he said.
> >
> > The long-awaited review of renewable energy subsidies came as the
> > solar panel industry braced itself for severe cuts to the feed-in
> > tariffs (Fit) that have stimulated a mini-boom in panel
> > installations in the last 18 months. Treasury officials are
> > understood to be concerned by the success of the Fit scheme, where
> > householders receive a guaranteed income for the power they
> > generate, and want to rein it in.
> >
> > The tariffs for domestic solar installations are likely to be
> > slashed, greatly reducing their appeal to householders and, the
> > solar industry fears, potentially scaring off investors and costing
> > thousands of jobs.
> >
> > The Fit scheme, like the renewable obligation, is not paid for from
> > general taxation but by energy companies adding a small amount to
> > all customers' bills. Ministers are sensitive to a growing clamour
> > in sections of the media attacking high energy bills and blaming
> > "green taxes" for the problem, even though research shows low-carbon
> > subsidies make up only a small fraction of bill rises.
> >
> > Huhne had little comfort for the fledgling solar industry - although
> > he refused to give details of cuts to the feed-in tariffs, he hinted
> > strongly that they were to come, noting that the costs of
> > photovoltaic technology had been falling by about 6% a year. "If
> > suddenly there is a dramatic reduction in costs, it is appropriate
> > that we should be looking at the energy bill payer and the taxpayer,
> > and getting value for money," he said.
> >
> > Huhne has tried to make the case that investing in green energy will
> > cut bills in the medium term, because soaring and volatile fossil
> > fuel prices are the main cause for increasing energy bills. However,
> > he is up against stiff opposition within the government.
> >
> > Green campaigners and the renewables industry were relieved,
> > however, that the cuts announced on Thursday were not much worse, as
> > many had feared.
> >
> > Doug Parr from Greenpeace said: "Despite some prominent Tory
> > scepticism over the role renewables can play in delivering clean and
> > secure energy, it's a relief to see the doubters have lost this
> > internal battle and incentives are being left in place to spark an
> > expansion of green energy generation. David Cameron can build on
> > this decision and show real leadership by now making the UK the
> > world leader in marine renewables technologies, in the process
> > providing new jobs and building economic growth."
> >
> > Under the new plans set out on Thursday, windfarms escaped
> > relatively lightly. Onshore windfarms will have their subsidies cut,
> > but only gradually by 10%, while offshore windfarms will be granted
> > a breathing space until 2015, after which their support will be
> > reduced by 5% in successive years.
> >
> > Hartnell said: "Onshore wind developers should be able to live with
> > this. It's a modest reduction, but it will have an impact on smaller
> > and community schemes. Offshore wind remains at the higher level
> > introduced by the emergency review, which is welcome news."
> >
> > There were also a few clear winners – chiefly tidal and wave energy,
> > which will receive five renewable obligation certificates for each
> > megawatt (MW) on smaller schemes. However, bigger installations –
> > above 30MW – will receive only two. Renewable obligation
> > certificates are the means by which low-carbon energy is subsidised
> > – energy companies buy them from developers to fulfil their legal
> > obligations to generate green power.
> >
> > Tim Cornelius, chief executive of Atlantis Resources Corporation,
> > said: "This decision should provide the necessary economic stimulus
> > to catalyse the next phase of growth in the UK marine energy sector.
> > Technology developers and their project partners are preparing for
> > commercial-scale deployment and this support will prime investment
> > and create jobs. The industry can now proceed with confidence. Tidal
> > energy has a major role to play in the UK's future energy mix."
> >
> > Now that the government has laid out its plans, investors are
> > expected to review their business plans and some that were put on
> > hold may now be brought forward.
> >
> > "There is great relief that this document has finally been
> > published. The delay had put billions of pounds worth of investment
> > on hold. Developers will need to see these new numbers in
> > legislation before they can resume development activity, however. We
> > welcome the broad thrust of the proposals, although we have views on
> > some of the details, which we'll feed in to the consultation," said
> > Hartnell.
> >
> > Arnaud Bouillé, director at Ernst & Young's environmental finance
> > team, said: "With GDP growth forecast close to zero and much debate
> > about affordability and increasing energy bills, today's
> > announcement of a cut in the support of both onshore wind and solar
> > energy generation is not totally unexpected. The biggest loser will
> > be the solar sector which is receiving its second setback in its
> > short-lived UK history. This may be a missed opportunity for a
> > maturing industry which had achieved significant cost reductions in
> > recent years and demonstrated job creation benefits at a local level."
> >
> > Commenting on the collapse on Wednesday of talks between government
> > and a consortium of companies to build a pioneering carbon capture
> > and storage (CCS) plant in Scotland, Huhne blamed the withdrawal of
> > the Longannet CCS demonstration plant on the specific conditions of
> > that project, which could not be made economically viable. He said
> > he was "confident we can deliver CCS elsewhere within the budget [of
> > £1bn in public subsidy] and we have undimmed determination - CCS is
> > a massive industry opportunity". DECC officials pointed to half a
> > dozen other potential CCS demonstration plants, including one at
> > Peterhead in Scotland proposed by Scottish and Southern Energy.
> >
> >
>
> Rachel Smolker
> Biofuelwatch/Energy Justice Network
> rsmolker@...
> 802.482.2848 (o)
> 802.735 7794 (m)
> skype: Rachel Smolker
>
>
> respect existence or expect resistance
>


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Thursday, October 20, 2011

[biofuelwatch] Guardian: UK Cuts Energy Subsidies for Incinerators and Landfills








http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/oct/20/renewable-energy-subsidies-slashed

UK renewable energy subsidies slashed

• Cuts to biomass, energy from waste and microgeneration
• Marine and offshore wind funding remains high

    Public subsidies for a range of renewable energy technologies are to be cut under plans unveiled by the government on Thursday, as ministers respond to complaints of "green taxes" driving up energy bills.

    Power stations using biomass from plants or waste byproducts to generate energy are among the worst losers, with developers disappointed that their subsidy levels have been left at a level they say will not encourage new projects.

    Companies generating energy from landfill gas will cease to receive any subsidies at all. Projects to produce energy from waste will have their subsidies slashed, and hydroelectric power will receive only half the subsidy it used to.

    Gaynor Hartnell, chief executive of the Renewable Energy Association, said: "If the government wants to encourage a greater contribution from the very cheapest technologies, this is the wrong way to go about it. No new projects have been built since 2009, at the existing levels. Reducing them further cannot help."

    The savings from the subsidy cuts are likely to be small – they could be as little as £400m at the lower end, and no more than £1.3bn.

    Chris Huhne, energy and climate change secretary, presented the reforms as a way of "getting more for less", through cutting consumer energy bills. He said the government's job was to ensure the subsidies were high enough to stimulate new green energy generation, but not so high as to encourage profiteering at the expense of bill-payers. "We have carefully studied what the level of subsidy should be, and we have pared them back [where they were] unnecessary, to get a lower level of consumer bills but a higher level of deployment," he said.

    The long-awaited review of renewable energy subsidies came as the solar panel industry braced itself for severe cuts to the feed-in tariffs (Fit) that have stimulated a mini-boom in panel installations in the last 18 months. Treasury officials are understood to be concerned by the success of the Fit scheme, where householders receive a guaranteed income for the power they generate, and want to rein it in.

    The tariffs for domestic solar installations are likely to be slashed, greatly reducing their appeal to householders and, the solar industry fears, potentially scaring off investors and costing thousands of jobs.

    The Fit scheme, like the renewable obligation, is not paid for from general taxation but by energy companies adding a small amount to all customers' bills. Ministers are sensitive to a growing clamour in sections of the media attacking high energy bills and blaming "green taxes" for the problem, even though research shows low-carbon subsidies make up only a small fraction of bill rises.

    Huhne had little comfort for the fledgling solar industry - although he refused to give details of cuts to the feed-in tariffs, he hinted strongly that they were to come, noting that the costs of photovoltaic technology had been falling by about 6% a year. "If suddenly there is a dramatic reduction in costs, it is appropriate that we should be looking at the energy bill payer and the taxpayer, and getting value for money," he said.

    Huhne has tried to make the case that investing in green energy will cut bills in the medium term, because soaring and volatile fossil fuel prices are the main cause for increasing energy bills. However, he is up against stiff opposition within the government.

    Green campaigners and the renewables industry were relieved, however, that the cuts announced on Thursday were not much worse, as many had feared.

    Doug Parr from Greenpeace said: "Despite some prominent Tory scepticism over the role renewables can play in delivering clean and secure energy, it's a relief to see the doubters have lost this internal battle and incentives are being left in place to spark an expansion of green energy generation. David Cameron can build on this decision and show real leadership by now making the UK the world leader in marine renewables technologies, in the process providing new jobs and building economic growth."

    Under the new plans set out on Thursday, windfarms escaped relatively lightly. Onshore windfarms will have their subsidies cut, but only gradually by 10%, while offshore windfarms will be granted a breathing space until 2015, after which their support will be reduced by 5% in successive years.

    Hartnell said: "Onshore wind developers should be able to live with this. It's a modest reduction, but it will have an impact on smaller and community schemes. Offshore wind remains at the higher level introduced by the emergency review, which is welcome news."

    There were also a few clear winners – chiefly tidal and wave energy, which will receive five renewable obligation certificates for each megawatt (MW) on smaller schemes. However, bigger installations – above 30MW – will receive only two. Renewable obligation certificates are the means by which low-carbon energy is subsidised – energy companies buy them from developers to fulfil their legal obligations to generate green power.

    Tim Cornelius, chief executive of Atlantis Resources Corporation, said: "This decision should provide the necessary economic stimulus to catalyse the next phase of growth in the UK marine energy sector. Technology developers and their project partners are preparing for commercial-scale deployment and this support will prime investment and create jobs. The industry can now proceed with confidence. Tidal energy has a major role to play in the UK's future energy mix."

    Now that the government has laid out its plans, investors are expected to review their business plans and some that were put on hold may now be brought forward.

    "There is great relief that this document has finally been published. The delay had put billions of pounds worth of investment on hold. Developers will need to see these new numbers in legislation before they can resume development activity, however. We welcome the broad thrust of the proposals, although we have views on some of the details, which we'll feed in to the consultation," said Hartnell.

    Arnaud Bouillé, director at Ernst & Young's environmental finance team, said: "With GDP growth forecast close to zero and much debate about affordability and increasing energy bills, today's announcement of a cut in the support of both onshore wind and solar energy generation is not totally unexpected. The biggest loser will be the solar sector which is receiving its second setback in its short-lived UK history. This may be a missed opportunity for a maturing industry which had achieved significant cost reductions in recent years and demonstrated job creation benefits at a local level."

    Commenting on the collapse on Wednesday of talks between government and a consortium of companies to build a pioneering carbon capture and storage (CCS) plant in Scotland, Huhne blamed the withdrawal of the Longannet CCS demonstration plant on the specific conditions of that project, which could not be made economically viable. He said he was "confident we can deliver CCS elsewhere within the budget [of £1bn in public subsidy] and we have undimmed determination - CCS is a massive industry opportunity". DECC officials pointed to half a dozen other potential CCS demonstration plants, including one at Peterhead in Scotland proposed by Scottish and Southern Energy.



Rachel Smolker
Biofuelwatch/Energy Justice Network
802.482.2848 (o)
802.735 7794 (m)
skype: Rachel Smolker


respect existence or expect resistance



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