Wednesday, May 30, 2012

[biofuelwatch] Last chance to try and stop biomass and biofuel electricity subsidies (UK)





[Alert for UK residents only]

The UK Government (DECC) is expected to announce their decision about future subsidies (Renewable Obligation Certificates or ROCs) during June.  

A public consultation about the subsidies closed in January.  At the start of the consultation, DECC proposed not only to guarantee long-term subsidies for biomass electricity but to further increase them, specifically for very high rates of co-firing in coal power stations.  In expectation of long-term subsidies, energy companies have announced plans (many of them already approved by planners) which, altogether, would require eight times as much wood to be burned for electricity every year as the UK produces annually.  This will mean more deforestation and thus climate change and more land-grabbing for tree plantations in the global South. 

Furthermore, DECC proposed subsidise biofuel burning for electricity long-term.  In practice, this is likely to mean palm oil burning.  Although the amount of biofuels burnt in power stations to receive subsidies would be capped, that cap would still translate into 110,000 hectares of new oil palm plantations (even more if other types of vegetable oil were also burned).

Although the consultation is closed, there is still time to ask your MP to contact Ed Davey (Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change) and Charles Hendry (Energy Minister) and ask them to ensure that electricity from biofuels and biomass will not be eligible for Renewable Obligation Certificates in future.   

For background information and a pro-forma letter to send to your MP, please go to http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/2011/rocs-alerts/ .  Personalised letters or, if possible, a personal visit to the MP's surgery will likely have the biggest impact.  Many thanks - and thanks to everybody who has helped with the campaign against those biofuel and biomass subsidies so far.


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[biofuelwatch] Honduran Tycoon Accused of Drug Ties Named ‘Press Predator’



http://latinalista.com/2012/05/honduran-tycoon-accused-of-drug-ties-named-press-predator

Honduran Tycoon Accused of Drug Ties Named `Press Predator'
Marisa Treviño | May 23, 2012

By Geoffrey Ramsey

Reporters Without Borders has said that the biggest threat to press freedom in Honduras is powerful landowner Miguel Facusse Barjum, though the accusations do not stop there — Facusse has been accused of ties to the drug trade, and of waging a violent campaign against land activists.

As the organization's report demonstrates, journalists across Latin America are often targeted by criminal groups, from guerrillas to street gangs and drug cartels, but violence can also come at the hands of corrupt state authorities and economic elites.

This is the case in Honduras, which had the second-highest number of journalist killings in the region (after Mexico) in 2011. According to a new report by Reporters Without Borders (known by its French initials, RSF) which identifies the world's 40 main "Predators of Press Freedom," the biggest threat to the media in the Central American country is wealthy businessman Miguel Facusse Barjum.

Facusse was one of the main supporters of the 2009 coup in Honduras, which has brought violent retaliation against opposition media sources in its aftermath, with at least 22 journalists and media workers killed in the past two years alone. In addition to this, however, RSF claims that Facusse maintains his own "private militia" which "can count on support from the police and army to impose his will."

His "will" reportedly includes directing his private security forces to crack down on small farmers and land rights activists in the troubled Bajo Aguan region, where a turbulent land conflict has raged for several years.

Facusse is head of agro-fuel giant Corporacion DINANT, a major landholder which owns large tracts of palm plantations in the area (some 22,000 acres, or about a fifth of the entire region).

According to international and domestic human rights groups, DINANT-hired guards and local police are waging a violent campaign in Bajo Aguan, intimidating and clashing with activists and small farmers there. At least 55 people have been killed since 2009 as a result of the violence, mostly farmers.

In an effort to resolve the conflict, the Honduran Congress passed a decree in 2011 which allowed farmers in the region to purchase over 4,700 hectares of land in Bajo Aguan with the help of government loans. Although the main farmers' union in the area, the Unified Peasant Movement of Aguan (MUCA), originally accepted the deal, the group subsequently backed out, saying the government was not holding up its end of the bargain.

But Facusse's role in the Bajo Aguan land conflict is not the only factor contributing to his notoriety. In 2011 a leaked US diplomatic cable from March 2004 was released by WikiLeaks, describing a shady incident in which a plane carrying 1,000 kilograms of cocaine allegedly landed on private property owned by Facusse in the northern department of Colon, where Bajo Aguan is located.

Sources told US embassy officials that the cargo was unloaded onto a convoy of vehicles, guarded by 30 heavily armed men. Perhaps most alarmingly, this is not an isolated report. The cable noted that the incident was "the third time in the last 15 months" that drug trafficking activity had been reported on Facusse's property, citing two past incidents (one of which involved a drug plane using the same airstrip).

So far there have been no charges leveled against Facusse for any of the above allegations, but they have hurt his reputation. Last year a German government-run investment bank withdrew financing for DINANT's biofuel venture in the Bajo Aguan due to concerns over the conflict, and was swiftly followed by French Energy company EDF, which announced it would no longer purchase carbon credits from DINANT.

While Farcusse has attempted to reverse the toll that allegations of drug trafficking and human rights abuse have taken on his image, helping fund social works and biodiversity projects, RSF's report is not likely to do him any favors.



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[biofuelwatch] U.N. worried by land use in Asia



www.upi.com/Business_News/Energy-Resources/2012/05/23/UN-worried-by-land-use-in-Asia/UPI-60521337777890/

U.N. worried by land use in Asia

GENEVA, Switzerland, May 23 (UPI) -- Intensive use of land for food exports and biofuel production must not come at the expense of human rights in Southeast Asia, the United Nations warned.

A panel of U.N. special envoys on food and indigenous people expressed concern that a program to convert at least 1 million hectares of rainforest into biofuel and export-driven crop production could impact the food security of some 50,000 people in the Meruake region of Indonesia.

Meanwhile, another 45,000 people are at risk because of the conversion of 3,000 hectares of land in the Isabela region of the Philippines for sugar cane for biofuels.

The panel said new economic opportunities for regional economies shouldn't put local populations at risk.

"Governments must not be seduced by the promises of developers when assessing large-scale land acquisitions for export-led crops and agrofuel production," Olivier De Schutter, U.N. special envoy on the right to food, and James Anaya, U.N. special envoy on the rights of indigenous peoples, said in a joint statement.



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Sunday, May 27, 2012

[biofuelwatch] How EU farming policies led to collapse in Europe's bird population





How EU farming policies led to a collapse in Europe's bird population

New survey shows devastation to farmland birds caused by policies – and experts can see no sign of improvement

LAPWING Vanellus vanellus
The lapwing is among the farmland birds badly hit by EU agricultural policy. Photograph: Penny Boyd/Alamy
They have entranced generations with the beauty of their songs and glimpses of their plumage. But today the sound of the linnet and the vision of a turtle dove are becoming increasingly rare experiences for visitors to the European countryside.
Indeed, according to a new survey, the chances of encountering any one of the 36 species of farmland birds in Europe – species that also include the lapwing, the skylark and the meadow pipit – are now stunningly low. Devastating declines in their numbers have seen overall populations drop from 600 million to 300 million between 1980 and 2009, the study has discovered.
This dramatic decline represents a 50% reduction and is blamed on major changes in farming policies enforced by the EU over the last 30 years.

Read more: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/may/26/eu-farming-policies-bird-population




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Friday, May 25, 2012

[biofuelwatch] Goldman Sachs plans $40bn clean energy investments



http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/2179452/goldman-sachs-plans-usd40bn-clean-energy-investments

Goldman Sachs plans $40bn clean energy investments

Bank identifies range of renewables and clean tech sectors as growth areas as large emitters look to cut carbon

By BusinessGreen staff 24 May 2012

Goldman Sachs will today announce plans to invest $40bn in clean energy projects over the coming decade, after identifying the sector as one of the biggest opportunities to emerge since it started investing in emerging markets more than a decade ago.

The bank plans to channel client money and a smaller amount of its own funds towards investment and financing in solar, wind, hydro, biofuels, biomass conversion, energy efficiency, energy storage, green transportation, efficient materials, LED lighting and transmission projects, news agency Reuters reported.

Goldman Sachs economists believe demand for these technologies is set to take-off as countries with large manufacturing sectors such as China and Brazil look to cut their emissions.

Stuart Bernstein, head of Goldman's clean technology and renewables investment banking group, said: "This is another emerging opportunity we think will be quite large."

Goldman already has form in clean tech, having raised $4.8bn and co-invested $500m in the sector last year. It has also trumped its 2005 target to invest in and finance $1bn of environmentally friendly projects, having reached $24bn of financing and $4bn of investment by the end 2011.

But some analysts suspected the target, which levels out to $4bn a year, could be part of a charm offensive to restore the bank's reputation after it suffered a series of setbacks since the financial crisis.



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[biofuelwatch] Fwd: SV: [energy-access] Call in details for Friday





Norway and WWF...

Begin forwarded message:

From: Marianne Werth <m.werth@wwf.dk>
Date: May 25, 2012 5:34:37 AM EDT
To: Patricia Lerner <plerner@greenpeace.org>, Zachary Hurwitz <zachary@internationalrivers.org>, Bård Lahn <bard.lahn@naturvernforbundet.no>
Subject: SV: [energy-access] Call in details for Friday

Hi all, sorry to come in late. The information I have is that the gov of Norway will hold a consultation with civil society on Energy+ on June 20 in Rio. WWF is engaged in that event. Let me know if you would like to receive invitations and I will forward names and organizations to WWF Norway.
 
Cheers, Marianne
 
Fra: Patricia Lerner [mailto:plerner@greenpeace.org] 
Sendt: 24. maj 2012 18:25
Til: Zachary Hurwitz; Bård Lahn
Cc: Laura E. Williamson; henriette.imelda@gmail.com; Patricia Lerner; Pascoe Sabido; se4all@hedon.info; energy-access-group@greenpeace.org
Emne: Re: [energy-access] Call in details for Friday
 
Bard will likely know what Energy+ is planning.
 
Cheers, Pat

Sent from my iPhone
 
Patricia J. Lerner
Senior Political Adviser
Greenpeace International
Amsterdam, NL
Cell phone: +31646162027


On May 24, 2012, at 18:16, Zachary Hurwitz <zachary@internationalrivers.org> wrote:

Thanks Laura and Henriette- I must have been mistaken about what was to happen at Rio re: Energy+, as I heard there was to be a big meeting to advance Energy+ at that time.

Best
ZH

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Zachary Hurwitz
Policy Program Coordinator
+ 1 510 848 1155 x313 / skype: zacharyhurwitz
Fax: +1 510 848 1008
zachary@internationalrivers.org
www.internationalrivers.org
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Follow us: Blog / Facebook / Twitter

On 5/24/12 4:21 AM, Laura E. Williamson wrote:
HI – following on Henriette's email here are a couple of docs on the Energy + fund collected while at COP 17. Not sure if they are useful or not!
Cheers - LEW
 

Hi Zach,

Actually, Norway already made the attempts. Couple of us met the person who's in charge of the Energy+ initiative in Durban. He even mentioned that Energy+ would 'try' to access the Green Climate Fund for that.

They already have some projects in Africa, and they're trying to engage other countries to chip in.

It was launched last year, when there was a meeting on Energy in Oslo (if I'm not mistaken), September or October?

I'll try to look for some documents about that (that was given by that Norway guy - sorry, I forgot his name). I think some were circulated.

Regards,
Powered by Telkomsel BlackBerry

From: Zachary Hurwitz <zachary@internationalrivers.org>
Date: Wed, 23 May 2012 16:54:20 -0700
Subject: Re: [energy-access] Call in details for Friday
 

Hello Pascoe-

I won't be able to make the call as it'll be twilight Friday morning in California--

But I'll share that International Rivers would fully support any media work to call out some of the SEFA initiatives that support known problem projects. For example, we are currently scoping whether there are problem projects supported by Norway's Energy+, which is listed as one of the SEFA commitments. Norway is attempting to create a REDD+ style program to invest in LDCs' energy sectors. No concrete details but expecting it to be launched at Rio. 

I'd be happy to support media efforts/public statements/declarations-- not too keen on attempting to push inside at the UN, since it seems CSOs were consulted much as an afterthought to the Action Agenda, which was written long before we were contacted.

Will look forward to the notes after the call.

Zach

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Zachary Hurwitz
Policy Program Coordinator
+ 1 510 848 1155 x313 / skype: zacharyhurwitz
Fax: +1 510 848 1008
zachary@internationalrivers.org
www.internationalrivers.org
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Follow us: Blog / Facebook / Twitter

On 5/23/12 1:03 PM, Laura E. Williamson wrote:
Apologies to all – we thought that we had replied.
HELIO will participate on the call Friday J
Cheers - LEW

From: Patricia Lerner [mailto:patricia.lerner@greenpeace.org] 
Sent: Wednesday, May 23, 2012 10:39
To: Pascoe Sabido
Cc: se4all@hedon.info; energy-access-group@greenpeace.org; Patricia Lerner
Subject: Re: [energy-access] Call in details for Friday

I would be interested in knowing what folks think of all this "voluntary commitment" stuff, especially in light of how weak the current Outcome Document is in general, and particularly SEFA.

Cheers, Pat

On Wed, May 23, 2012 at 7:33 AM, Pascoe Sabido <pascoe.sabido@foe.co.uk> wrote:
Dear all (again!)
It turns out I already had the dial in details hiding somewhere in the inbox. AND – no offence intended – but I got my wires crossed: it was HELIOS rather than NRDC… blame it on the number of acronyms flying around.
The passcode is 45121254#
A provisional agenda (feel free to add):

· General intel sharing from all re: SE4All (global level, in Rio, country-level) (15 mins)

· What accountability currently looks like in SE4All and what are the implications (15 mins)

· What can increase accountability of SE4All and how can we achieve that (30 mins)

Speak Friday,
Pascoe
Pascoe Sabido
Sustainable Energy Advisor
Friends of the Earth Europe
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respect existence or expect resistance



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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

[biofuelwatch] Material and Interview partner link between Carbon Credit and Biofuel needed



Dear Sir or Madam,

I am searching for detailed information and ideally an interview partner that would be willing to roughly answer questions on the link between and political economy of Carbon credit and Biofuel production (overseas) in the UK context.

I am a PhD student, working on international land acquisitions and one of my cases is the UK.

Thank you. Any lead is greatly appreciated.
With best regards

Ariane

ariane_goetz@yahoo.com



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[biofuelwatch] Grangemouth biomass power station - planning inquiry



The Public planning inquiry started on Monday this week. A coalition headed by the Grangemouth Community Council, with local FoE groups, local fishery experts and Biofuelwatch is putting the opposition case.

Forth Energy's proposed development is a 100MW electricity power station with theoretically up to 200MW of heat to nearby industrial facilities and to local housing (via a not-yet-built district heating network).

It will burn up to 1.5 million tonnes of wood a year. Forth Energy have recently changed statements about their procurement plans, and now say that all of this will be imported.

Their carbon footprint analysis relies on short rotation eucalyptus to shorten the 'carbon debt'. Supplies of eucalyptus for biomass use are limited, so intially fuel will come from existing forests and plantations.

The development is in an area of poor air quality and will increase concentration levels of Sulphur Dioxide, Nitrogen Dioxide and particulates.

The Scotsman has reported the inquiry, and if more people added comments to the on-line story it would help keep it in the public eye:

http://www.scotsman.com/news/environment/bio-power-not-sustainable-claim-activists-1-2308894





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[biofuelwatch] West Papua’s big palm oil plantations rip-off





http://www.eia-international.org/west-papuas-big-palm-oil-plantations-rip-off

West Papua's big palm oil plantations rip-off

Just 65c a hectare for landowners while major investors cash in

 

LONDON: An Indonesian oil palm plantation in which Norway has a financial stake paid Papuan tribal landowners as little as US$0.65 per hectare for their forestland, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) can reveal.

In the new report Clear-Cut Exploitation, EIA and its Indonesian partner Telapak expose woefully low payments by PT Henrison Inti Persada (PT HIP) to marginalised Moi tribe clans for land and timber.

Evidence includes a copy of PT HIPs `contract' with a Moi tribe clan leader, detailing a payment of US$923 for 14.2 sq km of forestlands – just US$0.65 per hectare.

In contrast, when the Hong Kong-based commodities conglomerate Noble Group bought a majority stake in PT HIP in 2010, industry analysts estimated the plantation would be worth US$162 million once developed (based on a US$5,000 per hectare valuation) – or 7,812 times the price received by Moi tribe landowners per hectare.

Clear-Cut Exploitation also details payments as low as US$25 per cubic meter to landowners for timber harvested during clearance of their forests, including for valuable merbau. EIA research reveals the company then exported merbau for US$875 per cubic metre, making millions in profit.

EIA/Telapak research further highlights a history of legal irregularities in the plantation's development and in timber harvesting – crimes never punished by Government officials tasked with safeguarding West Papua's forests and people. Violations include forest clearance and timber utilisation prior to permits being issued, and failure to develop smallholder estates in line with legal requirements.

Development benefits such as houses, vehicles and education which were promised to impoverished landowners by the plantation company have not materialised.

Jago Wadley, EIA Senior Forest Campaigner said: "Papuans, some of the poorest citizens in Indonesia, are being utterly exploited in legally questionable oil palm land deals that provide huge financial opportunities for international investors at the expense of the people and forests of West Papua."

The briefing also outlines how Norway has a stake in the plantation via the multi-million dollar shareholdings of its sovereign wealth fund – the world's biggest – in Noble Group.

Norway has been internationally feted as a climate change leader following its significant political and financial investment in efforts to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) in Indonesia and elsewhere.

EIA and Telapak argue that such contradictions highlight how, if left unreformed, investment and commodity markets will continue to destroy forests and undermine local communities in spite of efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation.

"That Norway – Indonesia's biggest REDD+ donor – will also profit from this destructive exploitation is ironic in the extreme. Norway could be paying Papuans to maintain their forests instead of profiting from deforestation in West Papua," said Telapak Forests Campaigner Abu Meridian.

EDITORS' NOTES

1. The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) is a UK-based Non Governmental Organisation and charitable trust (registered charity number 1040615) that investigates and campaigns against a wide range of environmental crimes, including illegal wildlife trade, illegal logging, hazardous waste, and trade in climate and ozone-altering chemicals.

2. Telapak is an association of NGO activists, business practitioners, academics, media affiliates and indigenous people. More information at www.telapak.org.

3. PT Henrison Inti Persada (PT HIP) is a plantation company established in Sorong, West Papua, Indonesia, by the Kayu Lapis Indonesia Group. It has a permit for 32,500-hectare oil palm plantation in Sorong.

4. The Noble Group is a Hong Kong-registered and Singaporean stock exchange-listed commodities giant with a 2010 turnover of US$88 billion.

5. In 2010, Noble Group purchased a 51 per cent stake in PT HIP for US$24,525,000, as Noble's first investment in oil palm plantation ownership.

6. The Norwegian Government Pension Fund – Global (GPFG) is the biggest sovereign wealth fund in the world, worth an estimated US$570 billion.

7. In December 2009, the GPFG held US$38,973,707 of shares in the Noble Group, having increased its stake nearly tenfold from December 2008 holdings of US$3.9 million. During 2010, the year Noble bought PT HIP, Norway's GPFG increased its stake in Noble by a further US$8 million to US$47,053,410.

8. In May 2010, Norway and Indonesia agreed a Letter of Intent (LoI) on REDD+. The LoI pledges US$1 billion of Norwegian finance to Indonesia in a mix of grants and compensation payments in return for verified emissions reductions from Indonesia's forestry sector.



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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

[biofuelwatch] Fwd: Roundtable on Responsible Soya - the Certifying Smoke Screen





http://www.gmfreeze.org/news-releases/192/

Roundtable on Responsible Soya - The certifying smoke screen

First audit reports show failure of "responsible" soya 

The Roundtable on Responsible Soya (RTRS) Annual Conference will be held at the Park Inn Heathrow Hotel on 23 and 24 May 2012.

The RTRS has today been described by campaigners in Europe as a certifying smoke screen that should be replaced by strong national regulation and fearless enforcement to protect communities, forests and the environment from the relentless march of soya plantations in South America.

The RTRS is a voluntary certification scheme established in May 2004 and formally launched in 2006 as the RTRS Association. Members include food and agribusiness giants like Cargill and Monsanto, and supermarkets like Sainsbury's, but also some NGOs, including WWF.

The first ten audit reports have now been published online. GM Freeze, Friends of the Earth and Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO Publishing) [1] have now scrutinised these reports, which confirm the RTRS has not brought a single benefit for small farmers in the area. Some small charitable gestures are taken as evidence of "good community relations", while the reports show that Roundup and other pesticide spraying occurs as close as 30 metres from people's homes.

Pete Riley of GM Freeze said:

"RTRS standards mean that there is no pressure for the methods of soya production to improve – to be certified as complying with local laws is all that is needed. This means farmers can go on growing GM Roundup Ready soya in a manner that is highly damaging to the soil, environment and local communities and still be called `responsible'. European supermarkets cannot continue to rely on RTRS soya for animal feed supporting unsustainable forms of intensive livestock and poultry production for poultry. This simply cannot be described as matching the definition of responsible: `Based on or characterised by good judgement or sound thinking.'"

The flaws and failings of the RTRS certification scheme include:

Weak forest protection measures only dating back to 2009.

  • Certification of unsustainable GM Roundup Ready soya monocultures dependent on glyphosate for weed control, which is causing an escalation of pesticide use to cope with weed resistance to glyphosate.
  • Aerial application of glyphosate and other pesticides causing health problems for people living near soya plantations.
  • Poor channels of communication with local farmers and communities and other problems with intensive soya production.
  • Auditing processes which rubber stamp existing mediocre practice.
  • Unsatisfactory "mass balance" traceability, which does not provide surety for European consumers about the methods of production used.

UK companies that are members of the RTRS include ASDA, Greenergy, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, The Co-Operative Group, Unilever and Waitrose.

ENDs

[contacts....]

Notes

1. GM Freeze, Friends of the Earth and Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO Publishing), 22 May 2012Roundtable on Responsible Soya - The certifying smoke screen



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Monday, May 21, 2012

[biofuelwatch] Biofuels goals 'may lead to food shortages' - study





http://www.scidev.net/en/climate-change-and-energy/news/biofuels-goals-may-lead-to-food-shortages-.html?utm_source=link&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=en_climatechangeandenergy

Biofuels goals 'may lead to food shortages'

Bernard Appiah

21 May 2012 | EN

Sugarcane

Sugarcane production in Brazil has increased in the last ten years

Flickr/Sweeter Alternative

Parts of the developing world, particularly India and countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, will sufferfood shortages if their planned biofuels targets are implemented by 2020, a study has warned.

The study, which looked at 25 countries and geographical regions, including Latin American and the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa and the United States, found that the targets will also affect national wealth.

"Our results suggest that the impacts would be significant in developing countries like India and Sub-Saharan Africa," the researchers, based in Ethiopia, Italy and the United States, wrote in the May issue of Agricultural Economics.

"We find that an expansion of biofuel production to meet existing or higher targets would slightly reduce GDP [gross domestic product] at the global level but with mixed effects across countries or regions," they added.

More than 40 countries have made commitments to meet at least ten per cent of their transportation fuel needs with biofuel by 2020.

Using a simulation model for different economic factors, including type of feedstock, the researchers found that the expansion of biofuels would cause a moderate decrease in world food supply, and more significant decreases in certain developing countries.

Lead author Govinda R. Timilsina, a senior economist with the World Bank, told SciDev.Net that the impacts of biofuels depend on a country's economy, energy, and agricultural sectors.

"Countries that do not produce enough biofuel feedstock but have ambitious biofuel targets — such as India's 17 per cent mandate — would not benefit, because they would have to import most of the feedstock," he said.

Timilsina said unless unused fertile lands in developing countries are utilised, more farmers may convert food cropland into biofuel feedstock, which could lead to a decrease in food supply and high food prices.

But José Goldemberg of the Institute of Electrotechnic and Energy at the University of São Paulo, Brazil, told SciDev.Net that the study's findings are "technically controversial", given the substantial evidence that the hike in food prices in 2008 was mainly due to the increase in cost of crude oil, and that increased biofuel production does not lead to shortage of food supply and soaring food prices.

"In São Paulo, there has been increase in sugarcane production in the last ten years for generating ethanol, but food production has not decreased," he said, adding that biofuel production is unlikely to cause decreased food supply in countries in Africa and Latin America.

Thomson Sinkala, chairman of the Biofuels Association of Zambia, added that the link between biofuels and food is country-specific. In many African countries, he said, feedstock for biofuel production costs less than its equivalent for food. "It is unlikely that a food crop based-feedstock producer would want to sell their produce at 40 per cent below what they can fetch in the food market."

REFERENCES

Agricultural Economics doi: 10.1111/j.1574-0862 (2012)



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[biofuelwatch] Palm oil industry hires lobbying big guns



http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/e2-wire/228055-palm-oil-industry-adds-lobbying-muscle-to-epa-climate-battle-
Palm oil industry adds lobbying muscle in EPA climate battle
By Ben Geman - 05/17/12 01:13 PM ET

The palm oil industry has hired law and lobbying giant Holland & Knight to help battle the Environmental Protection Agency's preliminary finding that palm-based biofuels don't meet the greenhouse gas standards of the federal renewable auto fuels mandate.

The action by Indonesian and Malaysian trade groups — and a major biofuel refining company — underscores the financial stakes of the wonky, behind-the-scenes scuffle over how to scientifically gauge the carbon footprint of the fuels.

Lobbying disclosure records show that the Malaysian Palm Oil Council, the Indonesian Palm Oil Board and Neste Oil have brought on Holland & Knight, which is among K Street's highest revenue lobby shops.

And the U.S. arm of Wilmar International, a major palm oil producer, has retained the firm Van Ness Feldman to lobby on the issue, according to an April disclosure filing.
Here's why they're adding firepower: EPA released an analysis in January showing that diesel fuels made from palm oil don't qualify under the 2007 law that greatly expanded the volume of biofuels that must be blended into the nation's fuel supply.
The palm oil industry is vigorously attacking EPA's conclusion, alleging it's based on inaccurate assumptions and data. It doesn't want it used to disqualify palm oil-based fuels from the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).
"[Holland & Knight] was retained by these three entities to help them navigate and participate in a complicated regulatory process and ensure there is a thorough review before EPA makes a critical decision that affects their businesses," said Beth Viola, a senior policy adviser with Holland & Knight, in a statement.

The 2007 law requires that biofuels have "lifecycle" carbon emissions — that is, emissions from crop production, refining, transport and use — at least 20 percent lower than traditional gasoline and diesel.

EPA concluded that palm oil-based fuels have lower emissions, but the difference isn't big enough to meet the RFS.

The draft analysis estimated that two types of palm-oil-based diesel fuels had greenhouse gas emissions that were 11 percent and 17 percent lower than traditional diesel.
Palm oil — which is also used in foods and other products — is extracted from the fruit of oil palm trees, and the growth of palm plantations has been a driver of deforestation in Malaysia and Indonesia.

Environmentalists, meanwhile, agree that palm oil-based fuels shouldn't make the cut and say they are actually much worse than traditional fossil fuels from a climate standpoint (as opposed to EPA's view that they're slightly better).

They say the agency is low-balling the emissions for several reasons, such as underestimating the extent to which palm oil plantation expansions are leading to the clearing of carbon-rich peatlands.

EPA's finding is part of a wider controversy over the climate benefits of bio-energy. Analyzing the emissions associated with biofuels is complex because it must address so-called land use changes — including deforestation — stemming from crop cultivation.




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