Saturday, March 31, 2012

[biofuelwatch] Fwd: methanol push


Methanol, a candidate for an 'all of the above' fuel policy

Published: Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The methanol industry hopes to become a growing source of alternative transportation fuel as gasoline prices continue to rise in the United States.

The United States' reliance on foreign oil has declined from 60 percent in 2005 to around 45 percent today, but the price of crude oil has nearly doubled over the same period and gas prices have skyrocketed.

"It's not enough to be self-sufficient if it doesn't affect the global price of what you're paying at the pump," said Gal Luft, co-director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, at the inaugural Methanol Policy Forum yesterday.

Luft said this issue stems from the transportation sector's reliance on a single fuel. "A lack of fuel competition creates a situation where we do not have the ability to have other fuels compete on the market share and bring down the price of oil," he said.

Unlike other fuels that enjoy strong political backing, methanol is still relatively unknown, he said. The Methanol Policy Forum was designed to shape the way people think about methanol and rally stakeholders in Washington around the new alternative fuel.

"I hope today will launch a national methanol movement," Luft said.

Methanol, like ethanol, is a type of alcohol. Methanol is toxic and most often derived from synthetic processes, however, while ethanol is produced by the fermentation of biomass and can even be consumed in alcoholic drinks.

Both products can also be used as fuels, although ethanol has taken a larger share of the market, while methanol is most commonly used to make industrial chemicals.

But there are good reasons why bringing methanol into the transportation sector is attractive. It is cheap to make, for instance, has a high octane value and can be made from a variety of feedstocks, including natural gas, biomass and coal.

Cheaper, but corrosive and less powerful

David Sandalow, Department of Energy assistant secretary for policy and international affairs, said there are real advantages to using methanol as a transportation fuel, but a number of issues must be addressed before it can be used in substantial quantities.

"There are important challenges, including the need for changes to the vehicle fleet, emissions issues and investments required in refueling infrastructure," he said in a prerecorded video presentation.

The corrosive nature of methanol also means that it has to be shipped instead of delivered by pipeline, and for the same reason would require a few hundred dollars in vehicle upgrades to prevent damage.

Another challenge is that while methanol is cheaper than gasoline -- at current natural gas prices, it could be made at well under $1 per gallon -- methanol has half the energy content of gas, which means drivers would have to refuel more often.

But, Sandalow added, "As part of our 'all-out, all-of-the-above' strategy, methanol can play a role."

Made from coal in China

The United States ran experiments on converting gasoline to methanol throughout the 1980s, but programs were set aside when petroleum prices dropped. Today, China, thirsty for more transportation fuel, leads the world in methanol development.

As in the United States, where methanol producers seek to take advantage of cheap and plentiful natural gas supplies, China's program makes methanol from coal, leveraging its own resource advantage while raising some environmental concerns.

Methanol has become a "strategic new industry" in Shanxi province, located in northern China, said Wang Maolin, chairman of the Chinese Association of Productivity Science. Since testing started in the 1980s, China has produced more than 6 million tons of methanol fuel, which has saved 2.8 million tons of gasoline, he said.

Wang emphasized that China was also committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in order to mitigate the effects of climate change and said that methanol is part of this clean energy initiative. Methanol is "safe, clean and environmental," Wang said.

But according to EPA estimates, methanol from coal is roughly two times more polluting than traditional petroleum.

China has already started to work with governments in Pakistan and Malaysia to develop methanol fuel, said Wang, and "earnestly" hopes the United States will adopt methanol in its transportation sector, too.

Congress seems open to methanol

The United States needs to take a cue from China and kick-start its methanol testing programs, said former Sen. Bennett Johnston (D-La.), a past chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Testing will help standardize and certify fuels and determine the most efficient and best ways to configure cars to be less polluting.

But U.S. EPA has been working on methanol technology for years, particularly for application in heavy-duty fleets, said Matthew Brusstar, director of the EPA Advanced Powertrain Center.

Congress is also looking to open a door for methanol through the "Open Fuel Standard Act" (H.R. 1687), introduced last year in the House. The legislation would require automakers to ramp up the production of flex-fuel vehicles to 50 percent of new automobiles in 2014 and 95 percent in 2017.

The Senate introduced a similar bill last September (S. 1603).

While the legislation is fuel neutral, Brusstar predicted that for methanol and other alternative fuels to really take off in the United States, they would have to ensure a high level of environmental protection. The public now places a lot of value on safeguarding public health and the environment, he said, pointing to the strong outcry against the Keystone XL pipeline.

"I think environmental protection will be a critical part of getting methanol as a transportation fuel in this country," Brusstar said.

Methanol, given that it can be made from a variety of feedstocks, can be produced with less harm to the environment, he said. "If it's controlled by China, I'd say no."


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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[biofuelwatch] Kedco to Sell Stakes in Biomass Power Plants Amid Expansion Plan - Bloomberg


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Friday, March 30, 2012

[biofuelwatch] Spoof video on biofuels - please share!

Hi there,

I’m the new biofuels campaigner at ActionAid UK. I look forwards to working with you in the future.


I thought you might be interested to see a new spoof video that ActionAid UK have just produced to raise public awareness of biofuels policy and to increase support for our  petition calling for the UK government and European Commission to end their support for biofuels. It would be great if you could share the video around your networks, on Facebook and twitter etc.


The video highlights the absolute lunacy of biofuels policy, showing two hapless campaigners trying to drum up support for a new spoof pro-biofuel campaign called ‘Drive Aid’ to the unsuspecting London public. In an uncomfortable parody of current UK biofuels policy, their campaign calls for “taking food out of greedy African’s mouths, and putting it into the petrol tanks of our cars”.


Luckily those they approach on London’s streets don’t share their vision! Watch ‘Drive Aid’ to see more. I hope you like it!



Drive Aid video on youtube -

The petition (with video) -

More info on biofuels -

Our facebook page -!/actionaiduk


Sample facebook update: Using food for car fuel rather than to eat whilst 1 billion go hungry sounds like madness, right?  Not according to current UK biofuels policy.  See how the public reacted -

Sample tweet:  Food for car fuel rather than to eat? Wd you agree? See what public thought to UK #biofuel policy #driveaid  -






Lucy Hurn

Biofuels campaigner
ActionAid UK
33-39 Bowling Green Lane

United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)20 3122 0551


End poverty. Together.


Is this the moment you change a child's future? Sponsor a child for 50p a day


ActionAid is a registered charity No. 274467 and a company limited by guarantee
Registered office: ActionAid, 33 - 39 Bowling Green Lane, London EC1R 0BJ, UK
Registered in England and Wales - Company No. 1295174

no disclaimer on replies or forwards


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[biofuelwatch] Fw: Invitation: 'Shell's View on the Future of Transport Fuel' - All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil Meeting

Sent from my BlackBerry smartphone from Virgin Media

From: Neil Endicott <>
Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2012 09:48:06 +0100
Subject: Invitation: 'Shell's View on the Future of Transport Fuel' - All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil Meeting

I am pleased to invite you to a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil (APPGOPO): 

Shell's View on the Future of Transport Fuel


Arthur Reijnhart
General Manager for Alternative Energy & Fuel Development)

Tuesday April 24th - 6.30pm

Committee Room 10, House of Commons

To be followed by Q & A

Arthur will discuss meeting the dual challenge of fuelling transport needs and delivering climate targets. By 2050 worldwide car ownership could triple to around 2 billion and trucking activities double. Shell expects to see a mosaic of fuel and vehicle options to address the challenge of future mobility. There is no ''silver bullet'' option that will deliver sustainable mobility over the coming decades. All options will be needed and all will have a place in addressing the challenge, with the preferred set of options varying by market. The session will cover the high level global view followed by a focus on the potential UK transport picture to 2030.

Please register for this event by clicking here 


If you require further information about this meeting or APPGOPO's work more generally please contact me at

Yours sincerely,

Neil Endicott

All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil (APPGOPO), Secretariat
Contact: or 07838 135 924                           


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Thursday, March 29, 2012

[biofuelwatch] Re: ECOLOGIST: The flawed arguments behind biomass

Dear All
The Digest 1751countering the aguments of "Back Biomass"is well made,yet does not cover the full range of value that a mature indigineous woodland or forest provides in its native land. France has the third largest mass of so far largely protected , but not necessarily well mqnaged forest in Europe, behind Finland and Sweeden.
It is now coming under threat from initiatives to burn this forest as woodchip to fuel steam raising boilers for either community heating systems or to generate electricity . Our region ,Aquitaine , has much of the vast woodland resources and is engaging in public consultation  under the banner"Climat Energie ". This is good and we are attending the consultations as founders of a local charity to protecty biodiversity ( see ). Our fear is that there are so many vested interests that have already got a foothold in the region, that there is the risk of the whole bottom up consultation becoming a political green wash( as has happened with Grenelle a good initiative at first, following Kyoto , ) or having its findings overruled by European Directives which reflect vast lobbies from countries like the USA, UK, and Poland currently rotating president of the EU.
The full range of value , of a forest or woodland , should included the biodiversity it harbours, its value as a place of healthyy recreation, its function as a sponge that holds rain, purifies slow run off into water courses and hence drinking water supplies , a lung for cleaning polluted air, not just CO2 sequestering, and its benefit to combating drought; a growing problem. This region is facing Spring, with only 50% of its normal stock of water in the aquefers.The french National office of Forests estimates the annual  benefit to drinking water quality is between 30 and 40 Millon Euros. However it then gets into carbon credits accounting  to justify more investment in the commercial benefits of forests , admittedly stressing the traditional uses for building and furniture timber. On the converse the local authority has just refitted the largest hospital in the county town with a 5.6 M watt, wood chip boiler , proudly boasting in the press that it will consume 20, 000 tonnes per annum  of local woodchip, so saving the emmision of 8,000 tonnes per annum of CO2. It will actually eject about 20, 000 extra tonnes per annum of CO2, and if the woodland used is replanted with like woodland, perhaps a nett CO2 saving will be gained after  100 years . !!.
What is not mentioned by them or even in your digest is the other pollutants, damaging to animal and human health ( CO, NOx, Organics, etc - which are worse than from some tradtional coal or gas ( methane ) fired power satations). Notably Black Carbon particles, which some sources claim is possibly the second largest contributer to global warming after CO2. The effect of black particulate carbon, on the human lung, is easily ignored, because like the asbestos and coal  mining industries , it is inconvenient to the lobbyists, fast buck traders , and their backers. See " Biomass Burning leads to Asion Brown Cloud ".Chemical and Engineering News 87. and Science 2009, for more on this neglected area. The 2009 study by Swedish Researches showed that a giant brown haze that periodically covers vast areas of South Asia, was prinicipally produced by biomass burning , and to a lesser extent fossil fuel burning.
In conclusion we suggest that more emphasis should be placed on the wider benefits of forestand woodland, not just global CO2, and even more emphasis given to the true costs of burning wood in thermal plant that is itself not efficient and so throws damaging pollutants from its chimney.
Go well  Helen and Brian Hurley


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[biofuelwatch] Cellulosic and brassica biofuels

Info from Fuel Handler website -

Jet fuel made from cellulosic pine tree sugars

In Canada, successful test flight using camelina and another brassica plant


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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

[biofuelwatch] Rare Sumatran orangutans dying as fires rage

Rare Sumatran orangutans dying as fires rage in Indonesian swamp forest

A third of the population of 200 might already be dead – with the remainder in severe danger, say conservationists

A Sumatran orangutan mother with her baby
A Sumatran orangutan mother with her baby. All of the animals living in the Tripa forest could be wiped out, according to conservationists. Photograph: Ariel Schalit/AP

Fires raging in an Indonesian swamp forest may have killed a third of the rare Sumatran orangutans living there and the rest could die this year, conservationists warned on Wednesday.

The Tripa forest in Aceh province is home to the world's densest population of the critically endangered species. At last count, about 200 lived there, out of a world population of 6,600, the conservationists said.

Cloud-free images from December showed that just over 12,000 hectares (30,000 acres) of the original 60,000 hectares of forest remains, said Graham Usher of the Foundation for a Sustainable Ecosystem.

The rest has been broken up and degraded as palm oil companies drain the swamp, he said. He said a total of 92 fire hot spots were recorded between 19 and 25 March in several of the palm oil plantations in the area.

"If there is a prolonged drought and the fire continues … then orangutans, tigers and sun bears within it will be exterminated before the end of 2012," he told a news conference, held by the Coalition to Save Tripa, which includes Greenpeace.

The number of orangutans killed in recent months could be 100 or more, the groups estimated. Another 100 died between 2009 and 2011 – killed either in the conversion process or by starvation and malnutrition.

Ian Singleton, conservation director of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme, said there are fewer than 200 orangutans still in Tripa, which was home to 3,000 individuals in early 1990.

"It is no longer several years away, but just a few months or even weeks before this iconic creature disappears," he said. "We are currently watching a global tragedy."

He described those kept illegally as pets as the "lucky" ones but said they will be refugees from a forest that no longer exists.

Last year, Aceh's governor, Irwandi Yusuf, gave a licence to PT Kallista Alam, a palm oil company, to convert 1,600 hectares of the Tripa peat swamp, home of orangutans, tigers and bears. Three other companies are already operating in the area.

An environmental group has filed both a criminal complaint and a lawsuit against the government. The Aceh administrative court is expected to rule on this next week.


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[biofuelwatch] Brazilian activists' murders may be linked to land dispute

Brazilian activists' murders may be linked to land dispute

Police investigate whether shooting of three rural activists was linked to efforts to win land also contested by sugar mill owners

Brazilian labourers on a sugar cane farm
Brazilian labourers on a sugar cane farm. Nearly 50% of arable land belongs to 1% of the population. Photograph: Andre Vieira/Getty Images

Brazilian police are investigating whether the fatal shooting of three rural activists was linked to their effort to win rights to land also contested by owners of a sugar mill.

The activists were shot on Saturday as they got out of a car near a landless workers' camp in the south-western Minas Gerais state.

A five-year-old girl, the granddaughter of two of those who were killed, survived the attack. No one has been arrested, a police spokesman said.

Watchdog groups said police were questioning land activists about the possibility the killings could have resulted from an internal conflict within their movement. The groups rejected that idea and accused landowners of paying gunmen to shoot the activists.

Carlos Calazans, head of the Minas Gerais branch of the federal department of land reform, known as Incra, said police were looking into the land dispute as a possible motive.

"It's definitely one of the theories for the motive behind this barbarous crime," he said. "I've no doubt these activists were summarily executed. But police have to follow all leads until they find the truth."

Calazans said the killed couple approached Incra last year seeking support in various land conflicts in the region, including the one with the mill owners. He said Incra tried to get the owners and activists to agree on the issue a few weeks ago, but the effort was unsuccessful.

Killings over land in Brazil are common, and people rarely face trial for the crimes.

The watchdog group Catholic Land Pastoral says more than 1,150 rural activists have been murdered in Brazil over the past 20 years. The killings are mostly carried out by gunmen hired by loggers, ranchers and farmers to silence protests over illegal logging and land rights, it says. Most of the killings happen in the Amazon region.

Fewer than 100 cases have gone to court since 1988, Catholic Land Pastoral says. About 80 of the hired gunmen have been convicted, while 15 of the men who hired them were found guilty, and only one is currently in prison.

According to Incra, those killed on Saturday were Clestina Leonor Sales Nunes, 48; Milton Santos Nunes da Silva, 52; and Valdir Dias Ferreira, 39.

The girl was apparently the only witness to the killings, which were carried out along a highway near the camp, about 25 miles (40km) south-east of Uberlandia. She told police a car cut off the one she was riding in with the victims, forcing it to stop. Either one or two gunmen then opened fire.

A statement on the Catholic Land Pastoral's website described the three victims as state leaders of the Landless Liberation Movement, one of several rural activist groups that invade land and set up camp, living on what they say is unproductive ground.

Brazil's agrarian reform laws allow the government to seize fallow farmland and distribute it to landless farmers. Nearly 50% of arable land belongs to 1% of the population, according to the government's statistics agency.

The latest killings come just before the month that landless worker movements typically step up invasions of what they say is unused land. The seizures are meant to mark the April 1996 killing of 19 landless activists in Para state.


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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

[biofuelwatch] ECOLOGIST: The flawed arguments behind biomass

Is biomass really a low-carbon, sustainable energy source? Industry group Back Biomass say yes while watchdog group Biofuelwatch says no

The Back Biomass campaign wants to portray bio-electricity as `sustainable', `proven' and `low carbon'. They accused Biofuelwatch of promoting myths and misunderstandings about biomass in a recent Ecologist article.

Back Biomass say the process of converting wood to energy is considered low carbon by governments, etc. What does `low carbon' mean? Is the biomass industry manipulating the numbers to show that bioenergy is lower carbon than it really is?

The UK Government has decided that biomass electricity is renewable if it has a carbon intensity of less than 285 kg CO2 per MWh. Their figure comes from a 60 per cent saving on the EU-wide fossil-fuel average, not a 60 per cent saving compared to gas as asserted by Back Biomass. Modern gas power stations have a carbon intensity of around 440 kg CO2 per MWh - much lower than the fossil-fuel average. A wood power station is therefore classified as renewable and by implication `low carbon' even though it only saves 35 per cent compared to gas. And of course it generates much more carbon than wind, solar and marine renewable energy.

The carbon balance calculation leading to that figure of a 35 per cent carbon saving is, however, deeply flawed and overestimates the saving. It relies on replacement trees being grown in massive numbers, and very quickly, to absorb today's smokestack emissions. The assumed timescale for re-growth is wildly optimistic. A mature tree of 80 to 100 years takes only a few minutes to release its full load of carbon into the atmosphere when burnt, but its replacement - if grown - takes a full century to re-sequester that carbon. Nonetheless for that full century while the CO2 is still aloft in the atmosphere, accounting rules treat it as non-existent.

Meanwhile, manmade global warming is occurring on a timescale of decades, with the CO2 emitted today by burning biomass creating warming and ocean acidification far faster than a theoretical sequestration by a tree. With atmospheric CO2 concentrations already well above 350 ppm, releasing greenhouse gases that will not be actually sequestered for the best part of a century, if ever, is hardly prudent.

Bioenergy is widely classed as 'carbon neutral' or 'low carbon' because of what many scientists have described as a carbon accounting loophole in the Kyoto Protocol. The accounting system means that not all of the emissions from bioenergy are attributed to the energy companies who burn biomass but, instead, carbon losses and other emissions from logging, land conversion to plantations, fertiliser use, etc count towards the forestry and agriculture sectors in those countries where the biomass is grown. For imported biomass burnt in the UK, they are Brazilian, North American or African emissions, not 'ours'.

Official carbon accounting also ignores the land-use change impacts that will arise from industrial scale tree harvesting. Indeed, due to a flawed UN forest definition, converting a diverse, natural forest to a monoculture eucalyptus plantation constitutes neither land-use change nor deforestation: the plantation is still classed as a 'forest'. And if large areas of forest are clearcut - well, those are simply 'temporarily unstocked forests', treated the same in the accounts as a rich, healthy living forest.

Back Biomass say that the industry is committed to sustainability, and works with bodies 'like the FSC' to improve standards. And they claim that,'Global schemes like this have been endorsed by leading NGOs Greenpeace and WWF'.

Biofuelwatch's research into the biomass supply chains for the biggest wood burning power stations in the UK so far found that most fuel is to be certified as `sustainable' by the US-based Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI), not the FSC. The SFI has been condemned as industry greenwashing by a very large number of NGOs. According to Greenpeace, for example: 'The SFI standard does not address social issues, particularly in terms of indigenous peoples' rights, and it is also weak with regard to most ecological issues. Consequently, SFI-certified companies continue to log old-growth and endangered forests, destroy the habitat of rare and endangered species and replace natural forest with plantations'.

Forest Ethics' 2010 longer critique reported that the SFI is funded, promoted and staffed by the very paper and timber industry interests it claims to evaluate. Greenpeace Canada wrote in 2011 that, 'burning trees for energy puts Canadian forests and climate at risk'.

And the FSC's role in assuring sustainability? Readers may remember Oxfam's adverts against land-grabbing earlier this year: 'Home is where the bulldozers are'. Those denounced a UK firm that had evicted 22,500 people in Uganda to make way for a tree plantation. That company held FSC-certification - which is supposed to guarantee social as well as environmental 'sustainability'.

Biofuelwatch does not accept that a global trade in wood pellets or wood chips for bioenergy monitored by voluntary certification schemes will be any more effective than the current arrangements to certify other timber. The global trade in timber has been plagued with problems for decades to such an extent that EU legislation has had to be enacted to deal with illegal imports. According to the WWF in 2010, a fifth of all timber imports to the UK were then from illegal sources. The massive increase in demand for wood fuel will simply exacerbate the current problems.

The paper and pulp industry has used biomass in bulk for decades and the problems it causes are evident in places like South America. World Rainforest Movement tracks the impacts of the green deserts of eucalyptus and pine trees grown in monoculture plantations in Brazil and elsewhere - displacement of people, biodiversity reduced, water supplies requisitioned or poisoned.

So when Back Biomass say that, 'There is a significant amount of land suitable for biomass globally which is going to waste.... A market for sustainable feedstock encourages active management which can result in enhanced biodiversity and where adverse impact on the environment is minimal', we say: look at the experience in the paper industry for hard evidence rather than accepting bland assurances that impacts will be minimal.

Back Biomass claim theirs is a 'safe mature technology that will boost energy security when price shocks in other fuels place economic pressure on energy users.'

If big biomass is mature technology providing a hedge against volatile fuel prices, why does the industry need generous public-money subsidies for 20 plus years to run its power stations?

If it's safe and mature, why did a massive fire shut down Tilbury power station last month shortly after it started operating on wood pellets? And why do wood pellet production plants continue to suffer explosions and to cause local air pollution around the world, and have difficulty getting insurance?

Big biomass is grossly wasteful. To harvest, process and ship 100 trees from Canada to the UK as wood pellets requires the energy from at least 5 trees. Burn those pellets in a 30 per cent efficient electricity-only power station and 70 of the one hundred trees produce just waste heat and atmospheric emissions of carbon dioxide, particulates and NOx.

Hardly a prudent use of natural resources, more a wizard wheeze to cash in on subsidies.

And next time a biomass proponent tells you that there are enough trees and `waste land' to supply huge numbers of inefficient power stations, recall what the fishing industry used to say about fish stocks.


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Monday, March 26, 2012

[biofuelwatch] Destruction of Tripa Peat Swamps

(Walhi/FoE Indonesia press release below)

Destruction of Tripa Peat Swamps

What You Can Do

• Send letters and/or emails supporting the investigation and prosecution of offenders to the National and
Provincial Governments, or to your local Republic of Indonesia Embassy; contact details in the documents below
• Spread this information as widely as possible, especially amongst local, national and international Press
and Media.

Tripa Truths - Inconvenient for some

Information about the destruction of the Tripa peat swamps 

Palm oil case against 'Green Governor' in Indonesia heats up

Rhett A Butler | Mongaby | March 2012

Environmental activists have launched an urgent appeal calling for a "just decision" in a court case that has pitted Aceh's "Green Governor" and palm oil developers against efforts to save endangered orangutans in a Sumatran peat forest. 

Press Release

Issued by: WALHI/Friends of the Earth Indonesia

Press Release

Issued by: WALHI/Friends of the Earth Indonesia

Jakarta, 23 March 2012.

PT Kallista Alam scandal in Tripa highlights lack of transparency in revision of the 

Moratorium Map: promised investigation into suspicious changes not yet


In May, 2010 Indonesia and Norway signed a Letter of Intent, in which Indonesia stated its intent to 

reduce emissions from forest and peatland conversions, including a 2-year moratorium on new

concessions for converting peatlands and natural forests, while Norway would provide $1 billion to

assist Indonesia with establishing REDD projects. The 2-year moratorium was established through 

Presidential Instruction 10/2011, and the first revision of the "Moratorium on New Permits" Map was 

issued by the Indonesian Minister of Forestry at the end of November, 2011. The map shows the 

areas of primary forest (in green) and peat lands (in pink) that are effectively off limits and protected 

from any new exploitation permits.

In the new revised version of the map, an area in the Tripa peat swamps on the west coast of Aceh, 

shown as protected peat land in the first edition of the map issued in May, had been mysteriously 

removed from the areas under protection (see map). Coincidentally, just a few days earlier, the Aceh 

branch of WALHI/Friends of the Earth Indonesia had launched a court case in Aceh against the 

Governor of Aceh and oil palm company PT Kallista Alam, requesting the cancelling of the Governor's 

permit issued to Kallista Alam, to convert this very same area of forest on deep peat land to an oil 

palm plantation. The permit was issued on the 25th of August, 2011, three months AFTER the first 

edition of the map clearly outlined the area as protected and off limits to any new exploitation permits.

The illegal concession was a major issue for the Indonesian delegation at the UNCCC in Durban, 

South Africa, with Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, the head of the President's own special task force of 

reducing carbon emissions, explaining:

"While we recognise the need for the palm oil industry to also grow, signing an agreement with a palm 

oil company to allow the conversion of protected peat land into palm oil plantations, very clearly 

breaks the moratorium." 

Norway's Ambassador to Indonesia, Eivind Homme, told Reuters he was surprised by news of the 

breach and called on the national government to investigate. 

Ambassador Homme, recently told Aftenposten, one of the largest newspapers in Norway, the 

Indonesian government has not yet reached the bottom of the matter. " (we were told.. ed) that areas 

that were already in use for agriculture, or where there are settlements, are now exempt from the 

moratorium." The area of the new concession in Tripa being challenged, has always clearly been forested peat 

land, except for a part at its northern end which was drained and cleared by PT Kallista Alam in 2010, 

one year before their "permit" was issued. Clearly the Norwegian Ambassador has not been told the 

whole truth.

Ambassador Homme also said: "Indonesian authorities are still investigating this matter and we await 

their conclusion. The moratorium is one of Indonesia's chosen tools for reducing deforestation, 

therefore, any violation of the moratorium is serious. We expect that the moratorium be followed up 

and violations of it be prosecuted," he said.

Riswan Zein, who lectures on mapping and land use planning at the Forestry Department of the 

University of North Sumatra, made his own enquiries. "I spoke with several of the staff of the PIPIB 

working group who revised the Moratorium map, about the removal of the that new concession area 

in the revised version of the map issued in November 2011. They told me that all the changes in the 

map, including the supposed Kallista Alam area in Tripa, were made at the lobbying of companies. In 

the case of the contested Kallista Alam concession, staff from the National Land Agency (BPN) 

appeared with a map of the new concession and told the mapping staff to remove it from the 

Moratorium map. There was no other information provided, no data on a permit number, when it was 

mapped, or when it was issued....nothing!"

According to Riswan, this was confirmed by Arif Darmawan (of UKP4), and Wahyunto and Kusumo  

Nugroho (of BBSDLP) at the 2


 Asian Forum on Carbon Updates held in Bandung in February 2012, 

where they told the Forum that 44 different companies, (including PT Kallista Alam) had lobbied for 

areas to be removed from the map. As the Kallista Alam area was neither already under agricultural 

use, or an existing settlement, this was clearly not consistent with the reason given to Norwegian 

Ambassador Homme, and passed on by him the press.

This case is one small example that highlights an obvious lack of transparency in the development of 

the moratorium map which is ironically supposed to demonstrate the seriousness of Indonesia's commitment to reducing carbon emissions from forest and peatland conversion. This lack of transparency seriously damages the credibility of the Government's commitment to reducing carbon emissions from deforestation, and to the principles of transparency and good governance.

While we applaud the fact that the Moratorium Map is a publicly available document, we and all our civil society partners demand that every revision of the Map is also publicly documented with verifiable data on who proposed any changes, when, and on what basis. Otherwise we are being asked to blindly trust in the Ministry of Forestry and the National Land Agency, two agencies with a long track record of dubious behaviour. Until this information is made public, any revisions to the map will continue to be greeted with scepticism both by civil society in Indonesia and the wider international community.

Today, as the legal action brought by WALHI/Friends of the Earth Indonesia against the Governor and PT Kallista Alam comes to a climax, with the judge's ruling expected on 3rd April, there is no evidence that any investigation has been carried out.


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[biofuelwatch] Australia: Woodchipping agenda up in smoke for now

Woodchipping agenda up in smoke for now

Lyndon Schneiders
March 21, 2012


Despite a setback for logging interests, we are not out of the woods yet.

Australia's ancient native forests were saved the ignominy of being incinerated for government-subsidised electricity by the unlikeliest of candidates this week.

Liberal defector and House of Representatives Speaker Peter Slipper used his first deciding vote to defeat independent MP Rob Oakeshott's motion for native forest biomass to be classed as renewable energy. It was the latest in a series of bids by the financially unviable native forest logging industry to stay alive despite massively changed community expectations. But the closeness of the vote suggests native forests won't be out of the woods until the industry embraces a sustainable future.

In 200 years Australia has cleared and logged much of its old growth and wild forests so it can only be misguided to burn the rest.

The embrace of the seemingly innocuous-sounding biomass energy is a ''scorched earth'' policy of an industry in hasty retreat.

Late last year the Australian government announced its intention to remove renewable energy subsidies from projects that sought to use native forest ''waste'', including 400-year-old trees, in so-called renewable energy furnaces to generate electricity.

This proposal would have been hilarious if not so serious, but there is a precedent for this desperate play. In the 1960s and '70s, export wood chipping of native forests became entrenched.

Export wood chipping was portrayed to sceptical Australians as a sensible way of finding a market for those parts of a logged tree that could not be processed by a sawmill. But within a few years wood chipping became the only economic reason for logging native forests.

By the 1990s, millions of tonnes per year of native forest woodchips were exported as sawmills quietly closed across the country. Now, with changing market expectations, the world has lost its taste for woodchips from Australia's ancient forests.

For evidence of the collapsing wood chip market, one needs to look no further than the mound of chips that piled up at the Artec mill at Bell Bay in Tasmania, a pile so large that the mill suspended operations last month because it had run out of storage space until it found a buyer this week.

Developments over the past few years have demonstrated clearly that without income from export wood chipping, the native forest timber industry is not financially viable.

Even with wood chipping, the industry has relied on government subsidies for more than a decade.

Last year, the state's auditor-general warned that Forestry Tasmania needed a cash injection of $250 million to remain solvent.

The industry is in crisis. It desperately needs a new income stream to survive. Enter Rob Oakeshott and his friends from the timber industry who claim energy generated from burning native forests is renewable.

Clearly, properly managed timber plantations are a renewable resource, but wood sourced from native forest logging is something else. It can take hundreds of years for these trees to grow to the size of 30-storey buildings, and a matter of minutes for them to burn.

In the meantime, it will take decades for the resulting carbon dioxide to be sucked out of the atmosphere.

A recent North American study found that producing power from burning native forests was more carbon intensive than using fossil fuel in 80 per cent of the regions studied.

The situation would be worse in Australia, which has the most carbon-dense forests in the world.

The native forest industry has been on life support for long enough, yet governments and their rogue forestry agencies continue to draw out its death, subsidising the industry and leaving the taxpayer open to pay out contracts that can't be met.

Forests NSW had to pay Boral half a million dollars in 2006 because it couldn't supply contracts from 2002. Bizarrely, it signed new wood supply agreements in 2004, and last year Boral took Forests NSW to court again seeking a further $1 million.

Forests NSW lost $14 million in 2008-09, $16 million in 2009-10 and $232 million in 2010-11.

The Western Australian government is setting up taxpayers for huge compensation payments in its pursuit to lock in 10-year contracts of 800,000 cubic metres of wood.

Similarly, the Victorian government is trying to lock in 20-year supply contracts for native forest ''waste''.

To aid this it is planning to exempt logging from the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act so the habitat of the remaining 1000 or so Leadbeater's possums in the Central Highlands can be logged.

The government will risk the extinction of threatened species and what little is left of its old-growth forest to keep the industry going.

The Oakeshott plan aimed to throw another desperate low-value, high-volume lifeline to this dying industry. Burning native forests is not renewable and the reasons for its promotion have nothing to do with climate change.

Lyndon Schneiders is national director of The Wilderness Society.

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