Friday, November 4, 2011

[biofuelwatch] U Leicester group on extreme high emissions from palm oil biodiesel



>
> Public release date: 4-Nov-2011
> University of Leicester
>
> Contact: Dr. Susan Page
> sep5@le.ac.uk
> 44-116-252-3318
>
> New study suggests EU biofuels are as carbon intensive as petrol
>
> A new study on greenhouse gas emissions from oil
> palm plantations has calculated a more than 50%
> increase in levels of CO2 emissions than
> previously thought - and warned that the demand
> for 'green' biofuels could be costing the earth.
>
> The study from the University of Leicester was
> conducted for the International Council on Clean
> Transportation, an international think tank that
> wished to assess the greenhouse gas emissions
> associated with biodiesel production. Biodiesel
> mandates can increase palm oil demand directly
> (the European Biodiesel Board recently reported
> big increases in biodiesel imported from
> Indonesia) and also indirectly, because palm oil
> is the world's most important source of vegetable
> oil and will replace oil from rapeseed or soy in
> food if they are instead used to make biodiesel.
>
> The University of Leicester researchers carried
> out the first comprehensive literature review of
> the scale of greenhouse gas emissions from oil
> palm plantations on tropical peatland in
> Southeast Asia. In contrast to previous work,
> this study also provides an assessment of the
> scientific methods used to derive emissions
> estimates.
>
> They discovered that many previous studies were
> based on limited data without appropriate
> recognition of uncertainties and that these
> studies have been used to formulate current
> biofuel policies.
>
> The Leicester team established that the scale of
> greenhouse gas emissions from oil palm
> plantations on peat is significantly higher than
> previously assumed. They concluded that a value
> of 86 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per hectare
> per year (annualised over 50 years) is the most
> robust currently available estimate; this
> compares with previous estimates of around 50
> tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per hectare per
> year. CO2 emissions increase further if you are
> interested specifically in the short term
> greenhouse gas implications of palm oil
> production - for instance under the EU Renewable
> Energy Directive which assesses emissions over 20
> years, the corresponding emissions rate would be
> 106 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per hectare
> per year.
>
> Ross Morrison, of the University of Leicester
> Department of Geography, said: "Although the
> climate change impacts of palm oil production on
> tropical peatland are becoming more widely
> recognised, this research shows that estimates of
> emissions have been drawn from a very limited
> number of scientific studies, most of which have
> underestimated the actual scale of emissions from
> oil palm. These results show that biofuels
> causing any significant expansion of palm on
> tropical peat will actually increase emissions
> relative to petroleum fuels. When produced in
> this way, biofuels do not represent a sustainable
> fuel source".
>
> Dr Sue Page, Reader in Physical Geography at the
> University of Leicester, added: "Tropical
> peatlands in Southeast Asia are a globally
> important store of soil carbon - exceeding the
> amount stored in tropical forest vegetation. They
> are under enormous pressure from plantation
> development. Projections indicate an increase in
> oil palm plantations on peat to a total area of
> 2.5Mha by the year 2020 in western Indonesia
> alone -an area equivalent in size to the land
> area of the United Kingdom."
>
> Growth in palm oil production has been a key
> component of meeting growing global demand for
> biodiesel over recent decades. This growth has
> been accompanied by mounting concern over the
> impact of the oil palm business on tropical
> forests and carbon dense peat swamp forests in
> particular. Tropical peatland is one of Earth's
> largest and most efficient carbon sinks.
> Development of tropical peatland for agriculture
> and plantations removes the carbon sink capacity
> of the peatland system with large carbon losses
> arising particularly from enhanced peat
> degradation and the loss of any future carbon
> sequestration by the native peat swamp forest
> vegetation.
>
> Although there have been a number of assessments
> on greenhouse gas emissions from palm oil
> production systems, estimates of greenhouse gas
> emissions from land use have all been based on
> the results of a limited number of scientific
> studies. A general consensus has emerged that
> emissions from peat degradation have not yet been
> adequately accounted for.
>
> The results of the Leicester study are important
> because an increase in the greenhouse gas
> emissions associated with biodiesel from palm
> oil, even if expansion on peat only occurs
> indirectly, will negate any savings relative to
> the use of diesel derived from fossil fuel.
>
> If these improved estimates are applied to recent
> International Food Policy Research Institute
> modelling of the European biofuel market , they
> imply that on average biofuels in Europe will be
> as carbon intensive as petrol , with all
> biodiesel from food crops worse than fossil
> diesel and the biggest impact being a 60%
> increase in the land use emissions resulting from
> palm oil biodiesel. Bioethanol or biodiesel from
> waste cooking oil, on the other hand, could still
> offer carbon savings.
>
> This outcome has important implications for
> European Union policies on climate and renewable
> energy sources.
>
> Dr Sue Page said: "It is important that the full
> greenhouse gas emissions 'cost' of biofuel
> production is made clear to the consumer, who may
> otherwise be mislead into thinking that all
> biofuels have a positive environmental impact. In
> addition to the high greenhouse gas emissions
> associated with oil palm plantations on tropical
> peatlands, these agro-systems have also been
> implicated in loss of primary rainforest and
> associated biodiversity, including rare and
> endangered species such as the orang-utan and
> Sumatran tiger.
>
> "We are very excited by the outcomes of our
> research - our study has already been accepted
> and used by several scientists, NGOs, economists
> and policy advisors in Europe and the USA to
> better represent the scale of greenhouse gas
> emissions from palm oil biodiesel production and
> consumption.
>
> "The findings of this research will be used by
> organisations such as the US Environmental
> Protection Agency, European Commission and
> California Air Resources Board to more fully
> account for greenhouse gas emissions and their
> uncertainties from biofuel produced from palm
> oil. This is essential in identifying the least
> environmentally damaging biofuel production
> pathways, and the formulation of national and
> international biofuel and transportation
> policies."
>
> Dr Chris Malins of the ICCT said, "Peat
> degradation under oil palm is a major source of
> emissions from biodiesel production. Recognising
> that emissions are larger than previously thought
> will help regulators such as the US Environmental
> Protection Agency (EPA), European Commission (EC)
> and California Air Resources Board (CARB)
> identify which biofuel pathways are likely to
> lead to sustainable greenhouse gas emissions
> reductions".
>
> ###
>
> The research was funded by the International
> Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), an
> international think-tank made up of
> representatives from the world's leading vehicle
> manufacturing nations. The research was
> commissioned by Dr Chris Mallins of the ICCT and
> led by Dr Susan Page and Ross Morrison, both of
> the Department of Geography, University of
> Leicester. Other contributors to the work were
> Professor Jack Rieley of the University of
> Nottingham and chair of the scientific advisory
> board of the International Peat Society (IPS), Dr
> Aljosja Hooijer of Deltares in the Netherlands,
> and Dr Jyrki Jauhiainen of the University of
> Helsinki. The research was conducted over a
> period of three months during spring of this year
> and has recently been published as an
> International White Paper by the ICCT.
>
> NOTE TO NEWSDESK: For interviews please contact:
>
> Dr Susan Page: Email: sep5@le.ac.uk Telephone: +44(0)116 252 3318
>
> Ross Morrison. Email: rdm11@le.ac.uk ; Telephone: +44(0)116 252 3843
>
> Dr Chris Malins. Email: chris@theicct.org ; Telephone: +1 (202) 407
> 8341
>
> AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the
> accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert!
> by contributing institutions or for the use of
> any information through the EurekAlert! system.
>
> Copyright ©2011 by AAAS, the science society.
>
> --
> ============================================================
> "On the other hand, maybe when Malaysia's prime
> minister spoke about transforming the country
> into a developed nation, he meant that it really
> had to suffer through a deep real-estate
> recession, like those
> experienced by the U.S. and the U.K."
>
> Steven Bergman. "Thriving Malaysia Propels an
> Office-Tower Boom In Its Biggest City, and You
> Know What Follows a Boom," Barron's, August 12,
> 1996.
> ================================
>
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Rachel Smolker
Biofuelwatch/Energy Justice Network
rsmolker@riseup.net
802.482.2848 (o)
802.735 7794 (m)
skype: Rachel Smolker


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Biofuels are a wide range of fuels which are in some way derived from biomass.

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