Tuesday, February 26, 2013

[biofuelwatch] Fwd: La Via Campesina Call for Mobilisation





http://viacampesina.org/en/index.php/actions-and-events-mainmenu-26/17-april--day-of-peasants-struggle-mainmenu-33/1371-17-april-international-day-of-peasants-struggles-resist-the-commercialisation-of-nature-stop-land-grabbing

17 April: International Day of Peasants' Struggles Resist the commercialisation of nature - Stop land grabbing!

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Call for mobilisation

The dramatic environmental, economic and social crises that we are currently observing have surprisingly not led to a complete change in the direction taken by most national and international elites. On the contrary, we are seeing an increased offensive by economic super-powers to grab all the resources still available to make a profit. Land has become a valuable commodity entering speculative trade, followed by water, seeds etc. This hyper-commercialisation of the commons leads to a massive dispossession of the people who are simply living on the land. Women and men farmers are particularly affected.
At the same time, resistance is blooming everywhere. All over the world, urban and rural communities hit by the same wave of privatisation and destruction of life are resisting against transnational companies which impose the rule of profit over the people's needs and rights. 
People's resistance against GMOs has recently led to some victories: sustainable agroecological farming initiatives have developed in cities and in the countryside to feed local populations; thousands of people have protested against the absurdity of some "development projects" such as destructive mines, airports, shopping malls, or industrial plantations. Farmers and civil society groups have strongly opposed land grabbing everywhere...
The international peasants' movement La Via Campesina has been defending and expanding the practice and policies of food sovereignty around the world for 20 years. To launch another 20 years of struggle, we are calling for a massive mobilisation day on 17 April, the International Day of Peasants' Struggles, to reclaim our food system which is being increasingly occupied by transnational capital. We invite everyone to organise activities, protests, art exhibitions, direct actions, discussions, film screenings, farmers markets etc., in your village, school, office, neighbourhood, organisation, community...
Wherever you are, join this collective celebration on 17 April!
  • Inform us about your plans by sending an email to viacampesina@viacampesina.org 
  • Subscribe to our special mailing list by sending a blank email to via.17april-subscribe@viacampesina.net 
  • Send us reports, pictures and videos of your action! We will publish them on the new Via Campesina TV channel. 
  • We will publish the map of actions around the world on www.viacampesina.org 
  • Join our Facebook event!

Origins of this Day of Action: On 17 April 1996, in Eldorado dos Carajás in the Amazonian state of Pará in Brazil, the state military police massacred peasants involved in the Movement of Landless Rural Workers (MST), killing 19 individuals. That day, 1500 women and men participating in the MST occupied and blocked a highway with the intention of pressuring the state and federal governments for agrarian reform. At about 4pm, 155 state military police from two brigades surrounded the MST on the highway, firing tear-gas and live ammunition from machine guns. In addition to the 19 MST killed during the massacre, three more died later from injuries, and 69 people were wounded. State authorities – the police, the army and powerful local landowners – were involved in planning and executing the massacre. More than fifteen years later, none of those responsible for the massacre at Eldorado dos Carajás has been imprisoned or punished.
 
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Monday, February 25, 2013

[biofuelwatch] Article about deforestation in Kalimantan





The creation of a new province, North Kalimantan, on Indonesian Borneo, has dramatically reduced the primary forest area in Indonesia's East Kalimantan province. 

The new province, located along the border of Malaysia's Sarawak, includes the densely-forested Malinau district. With the loss of Malinau and other forested areas, East Kalimantan's intact primary forest area has dropped to just 15 percent of the total area of the province. 

"Before East Kalimantan and North Kalimantan were split, the forest area that was still functioning well was around 35 percent of the total area [of the province]," said Dr. Petrus Gunarso, country program director for Tropenbos International in Indonesia. 

"After the split, the well-functioning forest area in East Kalimantan that remains covers only 15 percent of the total area. Conversely, in North Kalimantan, the functioning forest area will be around 69 percent of the total area [of the province]."

Petrus also explained that while 75 percent of East Kalimantan has been classified as "forest area," much of this is no longer actual forest. Unsustainable forest management and land clearing for mining, palm oil plantations and infrastructure have been the main causes of deforestation in the province, he said. 

North Kalimantan Map
The new province of North Kalimantan was carved out of East Kalimantan last year. Click to enlarge 


Forming the new province may have also put primary forests in North Kalimantan at increased risk for deforestation. A large part of East Kalimantan's wealth comes from extractives industries in the southern part of the province. North Kalimantan will now be cut off from receiving dividends from those projects, and this loss could lead to a wave of new mining, logging, and plantation permits as local officials search for new funds. 

Elections may also put the new province's forests at risk, as politicians seek money from companies to support their campaigns. A 2011 study, published by researchers at the London School of Economics (LSE), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and South Dakota State University (SDSU), found that from 1998 to 2009, illegal logging increased in Indonesia during the run-up to local elections, then decreased shortly after, replaced by a spike in legal logging concessions. 

This cycle may be the result of politicians paying back favors by granting legal logging concessions to those who sponsored their campaigns. Researchers also found a link between the increase in the number of provinces and districts from 1998 to 2009 to a rise in deforestation during the period. 

Petrus said it is regrettable that the current zoning approach fails to consider the natural landscape. The division of provinces in Indonesia, he said, should use a natural landscape approach so that the entire ecosystem is taken into consideration.




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Saturday, February 23, 2013

[biofuelwatch] UK Parliament: recent answers relating to biomass





1.  http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2013-02-14a.142658.h&s=biofuel

Biofuels
Environment Food and Rural Affairs

Photo of Graham Stringer

Graham Stringer (Blackley and Broughton, Labour)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will review the evidence on the effects on air quality as a result of the emissions from the combustion of biomass following the World Health Organisation's (a) advice to the EU to lower its limit values on particulate fractions, PM2.5 and PM10 and (b) its advice to member states published on 31 January 2013 to prioritise reducing emissions from solid and liquid fuels, including biomass.
Photo of Richard Benyon

Richard Benyon (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Natural Environment and Fisheries), Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Newbury, Conservative)

The review by the World Health Organisation on the evidence relating to the effects of particulate matter fractions on health is welcomed and we look forward to reviewing the findings of the study when the final report is published. However, as the review relates to the effects of air pollutants on health, we do not expect it to comment on the effect of biomass combustion on air quality.
DEFRA publishes annual assessments of the effect of current emission sources on concentrations of air pollutants. These can be viewed on the Department's UK-AIR webpages at:
http://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/library/annualreport/index
We also work closely with the Department for Energy and Climate Change to assess the air quality impacts of policy proposals that affect combustion of biomass.


2.  http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2013-02-11a.142119.h&s=biofuel+section%3Awrans

Biofuels
Energy and Climate Change

Photo of Simon Hart

Simon Hart (Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, Conservative)

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what average period elapsed between receipt of an application for commercial biomass installations and the first payment of subsidy in respect of the installation in the latest period for which figures are available.
Photo of Gregory Barker

Gregory Barker (Minister of State (Climate Change), Energy and Climate Change; Bexhill and Battle, Conservative)

The RHI scheme pays quarterly in arrears. Participants have to send Ofgem their heat generation data in a window which begins 13 weeks after the "date of accreditation" (the date a complete submission of an application is made for a valid installation) and closes one month later.
Ofgem aims to make payments within six weeks of receiving correct heat data. Ofgem data show that for commercial biomass installations the average time from the receipt of a complete submission of an application for a valid installation to receipt of payment by the recipient is 21.6 weeks for the scheme to date. This figure has reduced to 20.3 weeks in this financial year.


3.  http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2013-02-11a.142625.h&s=biofuel+section%3Awrans

Biofuels
Energy and Climate Change

Photo of Graham Stringer

Graham Stringer (Blackley and Broughton, Labour)

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change if he will review his policy of subsidy to biomass following the National Environment Research Council's report on the Atmospheric Lifetime of Black Carbon.
Photo of Gregory Barker

Gregory Barker (Minister of State (Climate Change), Energy and Climate Change; Bexhill and Battle, Conservative)

As the report highlights,
"The uncertainties in net climate forcing from black-carbon-rich sources are substantial, largely due to lack of knowledge about cloud interactions".
Abatement measures are currently in place to control the impacts of the production of electricity from bioenergy on air quality. Any energy plant over 20 megawatt capacity is subject to pollution control regulation.
There are currently no emission performance standards for biomass boilers of under 20 MWth. In July 2012 DECC consulted on mandatory restrictions on emissions from burning biomass for installations of <20 MWth accredited in the non-domestic renewable heat incentive (RHI). We proposed that the maximum permitted emissions limits are 30 grams per gigajoule (g/GJ) net thermal input for PM and 150 g/GJ for NOx. In the consultation we proposed that we would implement these restrictions between November 2012 and March 2013, dependent upon the timing of parliamentary debates.
DECC consulted on proposals for a domestic RHI in autumn 2012. We proposed that air quality restrictions for biomass installations supported in this scheme would be the same as those for the non-domestic scheme.

[Ends]




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[biofuelwatch] UK Parliament: key recent references to palm oil and bioliquids





"To date, the vast majority of bioliquids used to generate electricity under the renewables obligation (RO) have been derived from wastes or residues." - from answer in 1., and similarly in answer in 2.


1.  http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2013-02-11a.142037.h&s=palm+oil#g142037.r0

Biofuels
Energy and Climate Change

Photo of Caroline Lucas

Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion, Green)

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Bristol East of 14 January 2013, Official Report, column 481W, on biofuels, what estimate he has made of the expected (a) minimum and (b) maximum volume of palm oil imported for bio-liquid-fuelled power stations; what comparative assessment he has made of the merits of the policy approach pursued by the German and Netherlands Governments of removing subsidies from all bioliquids for power generation in order to prevent the use of unsustainable biofuels for power generation; what consideration he has given to the effect of public subsidies being provided to palm-oil burning power stations on public confidence in his Department's policies and systems on sustainable bioenergy; and if he will make a statement.
Photo of John Hayes

John Hayes (South Holland and The Deepings, Conservative)

To date, the vast majority of bioliquids used to generate electricity under the renewables obligation (RO) have been derived from wastes or residues. These can be highly sustainable and generate useful renewable energy, and we consider it is right to continue to support electricity generated using these fuels under the RO. The RO includes sustainability criteria that bioliquids must meet in order to be eligible for support. The UK will continue to support measures to improve the sustainability criteria at a European level.
In July 2012, we published the Government response to the RO banding review consultation explaining the decisions reached on support for electricity generated from bioliquids. The Government response was accompanied by an impact assessment of the RO banding decisions.
(a) The minimum volume of palm oil that might be used to generate electricity supported by the RO would be zero.
(b) We are introducing a 4% cap on the proportion of their renewables obligation that electricity suppliers can meet using certificates issued for electricity generated from bioliquids (with exceptions for CHP stations below 1 MW, energy from waste with CHP, advanced conversion fuels and microgenerators). The bioliquids cap equates to approximately 2 TWh of bioliquid electricity generation in 2017. The modelling for the impact assessment accompanying the Government response to the RO banding review showed that the support levels set for April 2013 onwards are not expected to bring on additional new deployment of bioliquid electricity generation, however, this is uncertain and there could be a small amount of new deployment of low cost bioliquid generation.
No assessment has been made of the policy approach pursued by Germany and the Netherlands.


2.  http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2013-02-11a.142276.h&s=biofuel+section%3Awrans

Biofuels
Energy and Climate Change

Photo of Steve Rotheram

Steve Rotheram (Liverpool, Walton, Labour)

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

(1) what analysis he undertook when setting the proposed cap on subsidies for electricity biofuels; and if he has any plans to lower this cap;

(2) whether he plans to remove public subsidies for the use of bioliquids;

(3) what assessment he has made of the effect of burning bioliquid fuels on the release of greenhouse gases.

Photo of John Hayes

John Hayes (South Holland and The Deepings, Conservative)

To date, the vast majority of bioliquids used in the renewables obligation have been derived from wastes or residues. These can be highly sustainable and generate useful renewable energy. We wish to continue to support electricity generated using these fuels under the renewables obligation, and so for this reason do not intend to remove public subsidy under the RO for bioliquids. The bioliquids cap and sustainability criteria serve to minimise any potential risk from supporting electricity generated from bioliquids which have the potential to cause harm to the environment.
The analysis undertaken for the bioliquids cap, and the impact of the renewables obligation on greenhouse gas emissions is set out in the renewables obligation banding review impact assessment. We are not considering lowering the cap at this time.
From 1 April 2013, all electricity generated from bioliquids which receive support under the renewables obligation must demonstrate that they have met the mandatory sustainability criteria. These including a minimum greenhouse gas emission saving of 35% that applies to all electricity generation derived from bioliquids, rising to a minimum emission saving of 50% in 2017. From 1 January 2018, the minimum emission saving is increased to at least 60% for bioliquids produced in installations in which production started on or after 1 January 2017.
The UK will continue to support measures to improve the sustainability criteria at a European level.




3.  http://www.theyworkforyou.com/pbc/2012-13/Energy_Bill/16-0_2013-02-07a.3.0?s=palm+oil#g3.20


3:30 pm
Photo of Tom Greatrex

Tom Greatrex (Rutherglen and Hamilton West, Labour)


The Government have already set themselves a number of targets on various issues. There is a target for cloud computing, which was set in 2011; a target for the level of food bug in chickens, which was set by them in 2010; and a target for the use of sustainable palm oil, which was set last year, and about which I understand from correspondence there will soon be an order involving the Department of Energy and Climate Change. The Government do not always meet their targets, but the point is that targets have already been set. Although my expertise on sustainable palm oil may develop ahead of the introduction of the statutory instrument, I cannot pretend that it is huge—I know very little about cloud computing or about chickens and bacteria—but I doubt that the process of setting those targets was as confusing and contradictory as this one.

[Excerpt]




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Friday, February 22, 2013

[biofuelwatch] Palm Oil Expansion Threatens Congo Basin Forests





[Note: The report by Rainforest Foundation, "Seeds of Destruction" can be downloaded from http://www.rainforestfoundationuk.org/palmoilreport.]

http://allafrica.com/stories/201302220967.html?viewall=1

Central Africa: Palm Oil Expansion Threatens Congo Basin Forests - Report


 
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Thursday, February 21, 2013

[biofuelwatch] Fwd: GRAIN Land grabbing for biofuels must stop










New from GRAIN | 21 February 2013

Land grabbing for biofuels must stop

EU targets have put Europe at the forefront of increasing global demand for environmentally and socially damaging biofuels. Growing demand has prompted some 17 million hectares, equal to almost the entire agricultural area of Germany, to be grabbed from local populations over the past decade.

Biofuels production has pushed farming and forest communities off their land from Colombia to Sierra Leone to Indonesia, threatening livelihoods and food security. Meanwhile, biofuels are failing to achieve promised reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, with some found to have a worse carbon footprint than conventional fossil fuel.

Diverting precious farmland to the production of fuel for cars is plainly irresponsible. All the more so since these lands are often home to the very rural communities whose food systems provide the world with the models needed to reverse the environmental crisis that fossil fuels have provoked.

European companies have already staked out claims to well over five million hectares of land in Africa, Asia and Latin America for biofuels, with often devastating impacts on local communities. If current EU mandates are not challenged, land grabs for biofuels will more than double by 2020, to more than 40 million hectares.

Demand for food is expected to rise sharply in coming decades, while agricultural land around the world is increasingly degraded. Diverting precious farmland to the production of fuel for cars is plainly irresponsible. All the more so since these lands are often home to the very rural communities whose food systems provide the world with the models needed to reverse the environmental crisis that fossil fuels have provoked.

These communities and the food systems they sustain are not renewable.

Read the new report from GRAIN here: http://www.grain.org/e/4653


Join New from GRAIN and receive occasional announcements of new GRAIN publications and other developments 

To subscribe, click http://ourlists.org/lists/grain-subscribe.html 
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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

[biofuelwatch] Study: Permanent Increase in Atmospheric CO2 from Biomass





http://www.energyjustice.net/content/study-permanent-increase-atmospheric-co2-biomass-energy-biomass-monitor

Study: Permanent Increase in Atmospheric CO2 from Biomass [The Biomass Monitor]


- by Josh Schlossberg, The Biomass Monitor
A new study out of Norway demonstrates what opponents of biomass energy have been saying for years: logging forests for bioenergy leads to a permanent increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Bjart Holtsmark's study, "The outcome is in the assumptions: analyzing the effects on atmospheric CO2 levels of increased use of bioenergy from forest biomass," published in Global Change Biology in 2012, provides compelling evidence that the expansion of industrial-scale biomass energy will exacerbate climate change.
Scientific studies focusing on the greenhouse gas emissions of burning forests for electricity and/or heat have evolved significantly over the past few years. Earlier studies assuming the carbon neutrality of biomass energy gave way to a more recent acceptance of a short-term carbon debt (decades to centuries) with long-term carbon neutrality, leading up to today's conclusion that "wood fuels are not carbon neutral, neither in the long term nor in the short term."
Holtsmark's paper evaluates five previous studies on carbon dioxide emissions from biomass energy— Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences (2010), Cherubini (2011), McKechnie (2011) and Holtsmark (2012)—and adjusts some of their flawed methodologies, determining that "when the most realistic assumptions are used…an increased harvest level in forests leads to a permanent increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration."
One previous error in methodology involved basing calculations of greenhouse gas emissions on a single logging event in a forest stand, as opposed to the more realistic scenario of multiple logging events. "IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] documents, such as Chum et al. (2012), envisage a permanent increase in the use of bioenergy and, accordingly, a higher harvest rate," explains Holtsmark, finding that "results change fundamentally" when multiple forest entries are taken into account.
Holtsmark also corrects the assumption that forests are always cut at peak growth, which is rarely the case due to economic pressures to log as quickly and often as possible. Further, Holtsmark highlights the need to measure carbon dioxide emissions against a baseline scenario of an unlogged forest "in which the trees are still growing, thus capturing CO2 from the atmosphere."
"Technically speaking, this has never been a complicated issue," said Chris Matera, founder of Massachusetts Forest Watch, whose organization has been calling attention to the health and environmental impacts of biomass energy in New England since 2007. "All that has ever been necessary to realize that increased cutting and burning of forests is not 'carbon neutral' is second grade math."  
"Ongoing logging to fuel ongoing biomass operations will add carbon to the atmosphere at the smoke stack," Matera explained, "and increased removals will increase stress to forests and soils, and will likely reduce overall, long term growth rates thus also adding to atmospheric carbon levels – by absorbing less."
"Instead, we need to do the opposite, let forests grow and expand as much as possible to clean up the mess we have made of our air and atmosphere."
 
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[biofuelwatch] Brazil’s big landowners have far too much power





Brazil's big landowners have far too much power

Every 12 days in Brazil, someone gets murdered in a land-related conflict - how do the landowners get away with it?

I knew that it was dangerous to get in the way of Brazil's big landowners, but it was only after the recent second murder that I looked at the statistics - and realised there seems to be a killing spree.
Cicero Guedes was shot dead as he cycled home in Rio de Janeiro state in January. Guedes, 48, had been a leader in the landless people's movement,MST, and his killers struck near a former sugar plantation where MST families now live.
Less than two weeks later, the body of Regina dos Santos Pinho, 56, wasfound in her home, after she failed to turn up at the funeral of Guedes, who was her friend.
Pinho had worked with MST for 10 years and she was also involved with the Pastoral Land Commission (PLC), a respected Catholic organisation which records land-related murders, death-threats and other horrors. Police said the killers' motive may have been sexual or land-related and for now, at least, both they and MST are leaning towards the former.
It turns out that we should not be surprised by two murders within less than two weeks of eath other. In Brazil, it's normal.
According to the careful records kept by the PLC, there is a land conflict-related murder on average every 12 days. That is based on PLC figures for the five years 2007 - 2011, the latest year for which figures are available. Attempted murders are even more common, with 38 in 2011- and death threats an almost daily occurrence (347 in 2011).
No-one is safe. In December, an 84-year-old Catholic Bishop had to flee for his life, as threats against him escalated in the run up to a court ruling on a land conflict. Pedro Casaldáliga, Bishop Prelate Emeritus of Sao Felix in Mato Grosso state in the west of the country, had supported the rights of indigenous people who lived on the disputed land. The ruling went in their favour.
I witnessed a relatively mild example of the extra-judicial methods that some landowners use against poor people late last year. We were visiting an MST project near Brasilia, the capital, where some 35 previously landless families had Government permission to live on a small area of land surrounded by an agribusiness farm. My employer, Christian Aid, helps to fund MST in Brazil.
It seemed a pleasant place but as we walked through their fields of sweet potatoes, chillies and courgettes, a small plane flew repeatedly over our heads, deliberately spraying us with pesticide. I was astonished by the assault, but was told it was absolutely normal and that it happens many times a day to the families who live on the land. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the agribusiness farm is also taking legal action to try to force the families to leave.
So how do the big landowners get away with such murder, violence and intimidation? The answer comes down to their overwhelming power and the ease with which they can abuse it; Brazil is extraordinarily unequal.
Almost one-third of all its arable land is owned by 0.8 per cent of landowners, according to research by academics at the Brazilian think-tank CEBRAP. Similarly, some 85 per cent of the value of farm production is held by just eight per cent of Brazil's farms.
Such vast economic power gives large landowners political clout too - and the ability to corrupt the police and politicians. Some contribute to hugely expensive election campaigns and others are in politics themselves, at national, state and lower levels. Some even own media companies that influence public debate.
It's a rotten system, made all the more crooked by the failure of the police and justice system to reliably catch and punish the killers and, most importantly, those they work for.
There are, however, some reasons to be hopeful that it will not always be like this. Above all, there is the fact that Brazilians threw out their military dictators in the 1980s. The country also has a vibrant civil society - people and organisations who are chipping away at the abusive dominance of the powerful few.
Perhaps the Government cares about its international image too, especially with its economy booming and the World Cup and Olympics heading to Brazil. I hope that people in other countries will see beyond the spin and remember: every 12 days in Brazil, someone gets murdered in a land-related conflict.
 
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