Tuesday, April 30, 2013

[biofuelwatch] Fwd: US Public Overwhelmingly Rejects GE Trees in Comments. Thank you!






 

Global Justice Ecology Project
 
      Stop Genetically Engineered Trees Campaign
Note: Thanks to all of you, we overwhelmed the USDA with comments opposing GE eucalyptus, with 37,580 against GE trees and only 4 comments in favor! 
   
From Global Justice Ecology Project, Biofuelwatch &  
The Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees
 
US Public Overwhelmingly Rejects  
Genetically Engineered Trees
 
Upcoming Protests Disrupt Tree Biotech Conference Plans
 
Asheville, NC - By a majority of almost 99.99% to .01%, the US public overwhelming rejected steps toward the legalization of genetically engineered trees during the USDA APHIS [1] public comment period that ended yesterday. The comments were in response to a petition by genetically engineered (GE) tree company ArborGen requesting permission to commercially sell their GE freeze tolerant eucalyptus trees.[2] Calls for a ban on the technology flooded the APHIS office, through individual online comments, petitions and online virtual meetings. [3]

 

"Yesterday, during APHIS's 'Invasive Species Month,' the people of the US issued a firm demand to APHIS to reject invasive, flammable genetically engineered (GE) eucalyptus trees," said Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project Executive Director and Coordinator of the Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered (GE) Trees. "We will continue to hold the government accountable to the will of the people, rather than corporate interests."

 

South Carolina-based ArborGen hopes to sell billions of GE cold-tolerant eucalyptus trees for planting across millions of acres in the US South in vast industrial plantations to supply biofuel, biomass electricity and paper production [4].

 

Dr. Rachel Smolker, Co-Director of Biofuelwatch stated, "ArborGen's reckless vision of using the US South as a giant sacrifice zone for energy production would wreak havoc on rural communities, native forests and wildlife across the region, pushing already endangered species like the Louisiana Black Bear and the Red-cockaded Woodpecker over the edge." Dr. Smolker added, "and despite the rhetoric about replacing fossil fuels with climate-friendly fuels, this wood-based energy will actually worsen climate change."

 

Genetically engineered and other industrial tree plantations are not only a concern in the US, but internationally.  Rural communities in Brazil have been fighting non-GE eucalyptus plantations for decades, and are also opposing the introduction of GE eucalyptus plantations. Additionally, in 2006 and 2008 the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) warned countries of the social and ecological dangers of GE trees. [5]

 

In late May, Global Justice Ecology Project, the Campaign to STOP GE Trees, Biofuelwatch along with Earth First! and the Dogwood Alliance are mobilizing events and protests around the IUFRO Tree Biotechnology 2013 conference [6] in Asheville, NC. Opposition organizers are taking credit for the recent cancellation of an IUFRO-sponsored field trip to a forestry research site planned for 29 May as part of the conference.  Organizers believe the field trip was cancelled due to the threat of protest. 

 

Contacts:
 
Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project (Executive Director), Campaign to STOP GE Trees (Coordinator) +1.716.931.5833 (office) +1.802.578.0477 (mobile) globalecology@gmavt.net  

 

Dr. Rachel Smolker, Biofuelwatch (Co-Director) +1.802.482.2848 (office) +1.802.735.7794 (mobile) rsmolker@riseup.net.

 

Notes: 
 
[1] USDA APHIS is the US Department of Agriculture's Animal Plant Health Inspection Service and oversees the release of GE plants. April is APHIS' Invasive Species Month.
 
[2] GE tree company ArborGen is a joint venture of International Paper Company, MeadWestvaco, and New Zealand's Rubicon, Ltd. The public commented on the 580 page petition to the USDA ArborGen submitted requesting permission to commercially sell their GE freeze-tolerant eucalyptus trees.
 
[3] The USDA received over 37,580 comments to the ArborGen petition by the end of the comment period on April 29th. 10,200 of these were submitted by Global Justice Ecology Project and the STOP GE Trees Campaign, 21,431 were submitted by the Center for Food Safety and 5,344 were submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity. Only 4 of the comments were supportive of the release of GE eucalyptus trees.

 

[4] Rubicon Annual Review 2009 

 

[5] Decision Regarding GE Trees at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity's Ninth Conference of the Parties, Bonn Germany, May 2008:
"With regard to Genetically Modified Trees, the Parties decide to:
(r)  Reaffirm the need to take a precautionary approach when addressing the issue of genetically modified trees;
(s)  Authorize the release of genetically modified trees only after completion of studies in containment, including in greenhouse and confined field trials, in accordance with the national legislation where existent, addressing long-term effects as well as thorough, comprehensive, science based and transparent risk assessments to avoid possible negative environmental impacts on forest biological diversity1;
(t)  Also consider the potential socio-economic impacts of genetically modified trees as well as their potential impact on the livelihoods of indigenous and local communities;
(u)  Acknowledge the entitlement of Parties, in accordance with their domestic legislation, to suspend the release of genetically modified trees, in particular where risk assessment so advises or where adequate capacities to undertake such assessment is not available."

 

[6] IUFRO is the International Union of Forest Research Organizations. The Tree Biotechnology Conference happens every two years and brings together forest researchers, tree geneticists, students and others to discuss advancements in tree biotechnology including genetic engineering. This year's conference is being held in Asheville, NC from May 26 to June 1. The last IUFRO Tree Biotechnology Conference took place in June 2011 in Arraial d'Ajuda, Brazil.

 


For more on the dangers of GE trees, go to:

 

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This email was sent to rsmolker@riseup.net by anne@globaljusticeecology.org |  
Global Justice Ecology Project | 266 Elmwood Avenue, Suite 307 | Buffalo | NY | 14222

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[biofuelwatch] ActionAid: Food crops burnt by richest nations as biofuels could feed 441 million





29 April 2013
Amount of food crops burnt by richest nations as biofuels could feed half the world's hungriest people, ActionAid says

Monday 29th April 20
13:  Half the world's hungry - 441 million people - could eat for a year on the amount of food that G8 countries burn in their petrol tanks as biofuels, ActionAid said today.

New data, published today by the anti-poverty agency, reveals that nearly nine billion litres of biofuels are used annually to fuel cars in the world's wealthiest countries.  This equates to the yearly amount of food needed to feed half of the world's 870 million people who live in hunger.  
The report also highlights that six million hectares of land in sub-Saharan Africa (equivalent to almost half the area of England ) have been taken over by European companies to grow biofuel crops. UK companies account for a disproportionately high amount - one-third - of that land (two million hectares).  

Anders Dahlbeck, Policy Adviser at ActionAidUK, said: "Can we really justify using food to fuel our cars while one in eight people are going hungry?

"If the world's most powerful nations are serious about tackling world hunger, they must first address their own biofuel use. Their policies have created a demand for the worst kinds of biofuels that push up food prices and are produced from crops that grow on land which should be used for food."


ActionAid's database of European biofuel company activities in Africa confirms the significant impact European biofuel policies are having on the distribution of land and land rights in developing countries. With 98 documented biofuel projects covering 6 million hectares, the biggest investors of biofuels in Sub-Saharan Africa are from the UK (30 projects), Italy (18) and Germany (8) – and the total number of European biofuel projects (including Norway and Switzerland) is 98.

Dahlbeck continued: "The G8 meets in the UK later this summer. David Cameron has committed to put the causes of global hunger high on the political agenda during his presidency. This is an important opportunity for him to show leadership and urge other countries to acknowledge and address the impact that biofuels have on hunger."

Official policies around the world have created enormous demand for biofuels because it was hoped they would be 'greener' than burning fossil fuels. But as well as being discredited environmentally, biofuels have become a major driver of world hunger as crops are diverted away from food production to produce fuel. As massive tracts of land are acquired or grabbed to grow biofuel crops instead of food, families are left without land to feed themselves or to grow crops to sell and support themselves.

Dahlbeck added: "What may originally have been a well-intentioned policy to make our transport fuels greener has turned out to be disastrous for global hunger. It has led to the diversion of land use and, in a further irony, may be worsening global warming as many biofuels increase greenhouse gas emissions."

ActionAid's Food not Fuel week takes place from Monday 29th April – Sunday 5th May to highlight the absurdity of using food as fuel.  ActionAid is a member of the Enough Food IF campaign, a coalition of more than 100 charities which, in the year that the UK hosts June's summit of G8 nations, are joining ActionAid in calling for David Cameron to take a lead on this issue.
 
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Friday, April 26, 2013

[biofuelwatch] Analysis/update on EU biofuels policy by Down to Earth





Please see here for an analysis of key developments in EU biofuels policy by Down to Earth: http://www.downtoearth-indonesia.org/story/dte-agrofuels-update-april-2013-i


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[biofuelwatch] Ethiopians stormed World Bank in Washington DC






Ethiopians stormed World Bank in Washington DC

Daily Independent | 23 April 2013

by Efe Ebelo reporting from Washington DC

Ethiopians in their numbers Saturday morning stormed the 17th Street Office complex of the World Bank in Washington DC, protesting the bank's alleged support for land grab and ethnic cleansing by President Girma Wolde-Giorgis

Displaying placards with various inscriptions like "World Bank stop financing Human rights violations," "USA say no to ethnic cleansing of the Amharas in Ethiopia" and what will it take to end poverty? Empower people not dictators" among others, they claimed that they decided to protest to the headquarters of the bank against forceful eviction of poor farmers by alleged corrupt tycoons and foreign corporations to enrich themselves.

According to the protesters, "in Gambella more than three million hectares of Annuak land was sold to foreigners to produce food for their own people. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations claim securing land to feed their people for the future. More than 70,000 Annuaks have already been forced from their land and another 150,000 will be displaced in the coming few years.

They alleged that these evictions and ethnic cleansing is financed by the World Bank as they claim the Ethiopian government cannot do them without support from the World Bank and financing by the International Monetary Fund, (IMF).

"The World Bank and IMF are financing it at all levels including paying salaries for those who are killing the poor people. Annuaks are now an endangered species so are the Mursi people who were chased away from the South Omo Valley hunting ground to clear the land for the regime's sugar company.

They said that if the World Bank could deny a loan to Cambodia in 2011 when that government was displacing its farmers, there is no reason why the Ethiopian case should be different demanding the Bank to come clean and distance itself from the alleged crimes being committed by the present administration in that country.

"We endorse the demand of the Human Rights Watch on its recent press release on Ethiopia for the World Bank to do its own internal investigation on the land eviction issue in Ethiopia and make it public. Thousands of Ethiopians were and are evicted; many children, women and elderly are dying as a result of this. The World Bank either has to condone or condemn this human rights violation and crime against humanity" they added.
 
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Thursday, April 25, 2013

[biofuelwatch] Biofuels failing the economy as well as environment (From T&E)



Biofuels failing the economy as well as environment

Submitted on April 25, 2013 - 14:44

The total annual public support for biofuels production in Europe is around €10 billion, equivalent to a bailout of Cyprus every year, according to a new report. T&E says the finding confirms that most biofuels on the market today are not only bad for the environment but do not help Europe's economy either. The report comes as the leading MEP in the environment committee of the European Parliament has proposed to classify different biofuels according to their environmental impacts by including their emissions from so-called indirect land-use change (ILUC).

Biofuels were once thought of as the silver bullet solution for transport fuels, with hopes of benefits for the environment, the economy and agriculture. The EU set the target that encouraged industry to invest in biofuels, but over recent years growing evidence has shown that most biofuels on the market now make a greater contribution to climate change than conventional petrol and diesel. However, the desire to protect initial investments meant that the Commission has been reluctant to accept increasing evidence of the existence of ILUC, the phenomenon whereby expanding agriculture to accommodate new demand of land for biofuels creates massive carbon emissions.

So the revelation by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) that total support for the biofuels industry – including tax exemptions – came to between €9.3bn and €10.7bn in 2011 is a serious setback for the attractiveness of biofuels. T&E's biofuels officer Nusa Urbancic said: `We already know the EU's biofuels policy does not help the climate, and this study demonstrates that it doesn't help our economy either. EU countries fighting to make the best use of decreasing amounts of money have been giving the biofuels industry the equivalent of a Cyprus bailout every year!'

The study Biofuels – At What Cost? was commissioned and co-funded by T&E, the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), BirdLife Europe and the IISD. It has other alarming findings:

The amount of public money given to the biofuels industry is well over half the annual turnover of the European biofuels sector (between €13bn and €16bn in 2011)
The annual support is substantially higher than the total investment in biofuel production facilities between 2004 and 2011
If biofuels' share of the transport fuels market increases from the current 4.5% to its expected 2020 level of 8.6%, the additional public support would rise to between €28.8bn and €33.1bn.
Current EU biofuels policy sets a target of a 10% share for renewable fuels in European transport by 2020. Of this, 8.6% would come from biofuels, 70% of which would be biodiesel, the biofuel with the worst record for greenhouse gas emissions. Last year the Commission proposed setting a limit of 5% for `first generation' biofuels – effectively a freeze – but this was strongly attacked by the biofuels industry and is still under discussion.

http://www.transportenvironment.org/news/biofuels-failing-economy-well-environment



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[biofuelwatch] RSPO failing to meet sustainability objectives for palm oil production, says WWF



http://news.mongabay.com/2013/0423-rspo-pandcs.html

RSPO failing to meet sustainability objectives for palm oil production, says WWF
mongabay.com
April 23, 2013

An initiative that aims to improve the social and environmental performance of palm oil production is faltering in its mission by failing to establish strong performance standards on greenhouse gas emissions and pesticide use, argues a new statement issued by WWF, the initiative's biggest green supporter.

The statement [PDF], published on the eve of a major meeting of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), says that RSPO certification alone can no longer be considered an adequate measure of environmental sustainability for "progressive" companies. It says companies that aim to minimize the impact of their palm oil production, trade, and/or consumption should now target performance standards that include public reporting of greenhouse gas emissions, eliminating the use of Class 1A and 1B pesticides, and establishing policies that exclude the purchase of oil palm fruit from illegally cleared or occupied lands. Those standards were excluded from the recently updated RSPO principles and criteria, which will go to a vote at the RSPO meeting on April 25 in Kuala Lumpur.

The statement from WWF is especially significant given the group's role in the formation and progress of the RSPO. For years WWF has pushed for producers, traders, and consumers to adopt RSPO certification as the standard for responsible production and use of palm oil. The effort has resulted in a steady increase in RSPO-certified palm oil's market share, but also complaints from some environmentalists who say the initiative does not go far enough to limit deforestation, conversion of peatlands, or social conflict.

RSPO's principles and criteria were drafted after months of input from the body's stakeholders, which include NGOs, buyers, traders, producers, and government entities. Despite its concerns about the strength of the principles and criteria that underpin the standard, WWF is nonetheless urging for a "yes" vote from RSPO members on Thursday.

"While the revised P&Cs are not perfect, on balance WWF believes that they are a step in the right direction and give progressive parts of the industry the right tools to demonstrate that they are acting more sustainably," said the statement. "That is why WWF will be voting yes to the new P&Cs and why we would like all RSPO members to do so as well."

The RSPO responded to WWF's statement by noting the multi-stakeholder nature of its democratic standards-setting process.

"As a multi-stakeholder initiative – compromise is pursued by the various interests groups within the RSPO represented along the palm oil chain of custody," the RSPO said in a statement. "Every sector has had the opportunity to express their priorities during the review sessions over the year long process; and may respond to the final outcome as they deem appropriate in further advocating the cause of sustainable palm oil."

The RSPO added that it is up to companies whether they want to go beyond basic RSPO-certification standards.

"The WWF initiative is purposed at getting progressive companies, who have already significantly committed to the RSPO vision to drive their leadership in sustainability to the next level," the body said. "The initiative is referenced against the RSPO and requires member companies within the organization to further demonstrate their disclosure through its existing systems, processes and reporting requirements."

The RSPO was established in 2004 and the first shipments of "certified sustainable palm oil" reached market in 2008. Today about 15 percent of palm oil produced globally is RSPO-certified.

Palm oil is used as a cooking oil and in a wide range of processed foods. Its high productivity makes it a cheap source of vegetable oil while at the same time making it a highly profitable crop. But recent expansion has taken a heavy toll on forests and wildlife, especially in Malaysia and Indonesia, where growth has occurred the fastest. Accordingly, in the mid-2000's, environmentalist activists fighting deforestation began campaigning against palm oil produced at the expense of rainforests and peatlands. Palm oil thus joined the ranks of other tropical commodities — cattle, soy, timber, and wood-pulp for paper production — targeted by green groups.






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[biofuelwatch] Groups Globally Oppose Plans to Burn Wood for Electricity






Biofuelwatch & Global Justice Ecology Project
Press Release 
Groups Globally 
Oppose Plans to Burn Wood for Electricity 
Citing Impacts on Forests, Climate, Communities


For Immediate Release   24 April 2013

London, England - In conjunction with an action in London today outside of the Drax power plant, organizations and networks from around the world released an Open Letter expressing opposition to plans by UK utility Drax to burn nearly 16 million tonnes of mostly imported wood biomass, in a coal power station [1]. 

Drax is one of several European companies converting older power stations from burning coal to burning wood pellets or co-firing pellets combined with coal. US and Canadian energy companies are also investing in biomass power stations and co-firing coal with wood. This trend, supported by renewable energy policies, is establishing massive new demand and international trade in wood pellets, and represents a huge threat to forests, biodiversity, climate and communities. 

Lacking forest resources to meet their own demand, European energy companies like Drax seek to import pellets especially from the southeastern US and British Columbia, Canada. In the longer term, they plan to invest in pellets made from industrial tree plantations in South America and/or Africa.

Campaigners warn that mounting evidence clearly indicates that the massive demand for wood pellets by Drax and other energy companies threatens to accelerate both climate change and deforestation, contribute to air pollution, and is falsely supported as "carbon neutral." This, in spite of mounting evidence, shows that burning trees for electricity results in more CO2 emissions even than burning coal.  The carbon debt created lasts decades or even centuries.  

The rise in deforestation for biomass also diminishes carbon sequestration in forests, results in degradation of soils, waterways and biodiversity, and is contributing to speculative investment and "land grabs" which are often displacing forest dependent communities.[2]

Furthermore, in the US, this fast-growing new demand for wood is being used by biotech company Arborgen [3] to justify development and commercialization of risky genetically engineered, fast growing and freeze tolerant eucalyptus trees.  The US Department of Agriculture is currently considering Arborgen's petition requesting legalization of some of their GE eucalyptus lines [4]. 

Anne Peterman from Global Justice Ecology Project and the Stop GE Trees Campaign explains: "False claims that bioenergy is low-carbon and sustainable are being used by Arborgen and other biotech firms who seek commercial release of their fast growing GE trees. Arborgen has targeted the US South for massive industrial plantations of their freeze tolerant eucalyptus from South Carolina to Texas.  

"These GE eucalyptus have been called 'flammable kudzu' due to the fact that they are both fire-prone and highly invasive.  They also require vast quantities of water, will deplete already stressed freshwater resources in the region, and will displace wildlife. The Stop GE Trees Campaign, with more than 250 member groups, is planning to protest Arborgen's plans for deregulation at the upcoming Tree Biotechnology 2013 conference in Asheville, NC next month," she continued.

Rachel Smolker from Biofuelwatch states: "Today, environmental and social justice groups worldwide are standing in solidarity with protests against one of the world's biggest biomass power companies, Drax.  These protests follow just over a week after a global day of action initiated by Australian activists attracted worldwide attention (see: http://biomassacre.com/) and just weeks prior to protests planned at the upcoming tree biotechnology conference. It is high time that policymakers take note: burning trees for electricity is unacceptable and should not be subsidized as 'clean, green, sustainable or renewable.'" 

Contacts:

Rachel Smolker, Biofuelwatch (Co-Director).+1.802.482.2848 (office), +1.802.735.7794 (mobile).rsmolker@riseup.net

Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project (Executive Director), STOP GE Trees Camapign (Coordinator), +1.716.931.5833 (office) +1.802.578.0477(mobile) globalecology@gmavt.net

Notes:

 1] The Open Letter can be found athttp://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/DRAX-AGM-signon.pdf.  It is supported by 48 non-UK organizations, including Friends of the Earth International, Global Forest Coalition and World Rainforest Movement.  Separately from the letter, 16 UK-based groups are supporting a protest outside the Drax AGM today:  http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/2013/drax-agm-targeted-over-biomass-conversion-plans/.


[2] For a list of studies, please seehttp://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/resources-on-biomass/. Note: UK coal cofiring is in part driven by the introduction of new regulations on sulphur dioxide emissions. Coal plants that would otherwise have to shut down, can meet the new standards by partial substitution of wood, thus perpetuating the lifespan of these polluting  facilities.

[3] Arborgen is a joint initiative of timber companies International Paper, MeadWestvaco and Rubicon.

[4] See:http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=APHIS-2012-0030-0001



 




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[biofuelwatch] Drax AGM targeted over biomass conversion plans





http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/2013/drax-agm-targeted-over-biomass-conversion-plans/

Drax AGM targeted over biomass conversion plans

2For immediate use 24th April 2013

50 people are taking part in a demonstration and rally outside the annual general meeting of Drax Plc, at the Grocers' Hall in London, organised by Biofuelwatch [1] and supported by 16 other groups [2]. Demonstrators are chanting "Drax Drax, what do you say? How many trees have you killed today?" and holding banners reading "Big Biomass: Fuelling Deforestation, Land-grabbing and Climate Disaster", "Big Biomass is Greenwash not Renewable Energy" and "Drax the Destroyer!". Biofuelwatch has called the demonstration to oppose Drax power station's plans to convert half of its generating capacity to biomass, and to highlight the impacts that this will have in terms of increased deforestation, land-grabbing and carbon emissions.

Natalie Bennet, Leader of the Green Party in England and Wales attended the demonstration and addressed the crowd. She said: "I made the time to come today as this is a really important issue. We absolutely must stand against big biomass. We need to write "decarbonisation by 2030" into the Energy Bill and provide for the investment in solar, wind energy and energy conservation, which are the only answers for Britain."

1Oliver Munnion from Biofuelwatch who is taking part in today's protest said: "I'm here today to dispel a modern myth that big biomass is sustainable, low-carbon energy. Drax isn't going green – it's cashing in on massive subsidies to the tune of half a billion pounds a year and trying to keep its old, dirty power station going for as long as possible. You can't paint a green fa├žade onto the UK's most polluting power station. Big biomass and coal spell disaster for communities and the climate – it's time these dinosaurs closed."

Sophie Bastable, also attending the demonstration said: "In order for governments to meet renewable energy targets and to make dirty companies look green there is a massive push for biomass in the UK right now. But the fuel that Drax currently uses and will use much more of directly contributes to the destruction of biodiverse forests in North America. There is nothing sustainable about burning 1.6 times as much as the UK's total annual wood supply in one power station every year. Creating such a vast new demand for wood will lead to more destruction of biodiverse forests and, whether directly or indirectly, more land-grabbing for tree plantations in the global South."

Today's protest coincides with the publication of an open letter to Drax Plc signed by 49 different organisations and networks worldwide, including Friends of the Earth International, the Global Forest Coalition and World Rainforest Movement [3]. The letter concludes: "We oppose commercial and industrial scale bioenergy, and demand that the UK halt coal conversion plans and force these coal plants to shut down. Meanwhile focus must be redirected towards a serious reduction of energy consumption and dramatic measures to protect and restore forests and other ecosystems."

P1000907Drax's biomass plans will require pellets made from 15.8 million tonnes of wood each year, making it the biggest biomass-burning power station in the world. By comparison, the UK's total annual wood production is only 10 million tonnes. Overall, energy companies in the UK are planning to burn up to 10 times as much wood as the UK produces ever year. Wood burned by Drax increasingly comes from whole trees felled for this purpose [4].

In addition to issues of deforestation and land-grabbing, recent scientific studies have shown that biomass used for electricity generation is actually more carbon intensive than burning coal [5]. Duncan Law from Biofuelwatch said: "Burning biomass on the scale proposed will be even more carbon intensive than the coal it will replace, and result in a massive carbon debt stored just where we don't want it, in the atmosphere. Far from being a low-carbon fuel, it's a total climate disaster!".

For local communities, coal to biomass conversions will mean decades more of high levels of pollution, since the conversions allow power stations to continue operating when they may otherwise have to close down [6]. Reverend Paul Cawthorne, Environmental Officer for the Lichfield Diocese and a near-by resident to Ironbridge, another coal-fired power station converting to biomass said: "After the dash for gas comes the dash for wood and with similar uncertainties about how noxious emissions will affect our local air. Why do some people think cutting down forests in other countries is somehow better for the planet than using our local resources and putting effort into becoming more efficient in our domestic use of energy. This is absurd and culpable short-termism. Even the wood trade is warning ministers this is a disaster in the making."

Notes to Editors:

[1] Biofuelwatch is a not-for-profit grassroots organisation set up to raise awareness of the negative impacts of industrial biofuels and bioenergy http://biofuelwatch.org.uk/

[2] The following organisations are formally supporting Taking DRAXtic Action: Campaign Against Climate Change; Carbon Trade Watch; Christian Ecology Link; Climate Justice Collective; Coal Action Network; Coal Action Scotland; Colombia Solidarity Campaign; Corporate Watch; Frack Free Somerset; Fuel Poverty Action; Gaia Foundation; London Mining Network; London Rising Tide; Occupy London Energy, Equity and Environment Group; Rising Tide UK; World Development Movement.

[3] The Open Letter to Drax can be found at

http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/2013/drax-signon-letter/

[4] The Dogwood Alliance, a nonprofit organization working to protect forests in the Southern US, released a report entitled "The Use of Whole Trees in Wood Pellet Manufacturing," in November 2012 documenting the fact that the top exporters of wood pellets in the region rely heavily on cutting down whole trees to satisfy demand from European power stations. Scot Quaranda, Campaign Director for Dogwood Alliance said "Energy companies in the UK, including Drax, RWE and E.On are converting large, old, dirty and inefficient coal power stations to biomass all in the name of reducing carbon emissions, but the reality is that this shift will accelerate climate change while also driving destructive industrial logging in the world's most biologically diverse temperate forests." Through direct investigation and research, the report documents the use of whole trees from Southern forests by the largest wood pellet manufacturers and exporters in the Southern US. Pellet manufacturers such as Georgia Biomass, a wholly owned subsidiary of RWE, and Enviva, a major supplier of Drax and E.On are highlighted in the report as using or if not open, planning to use, whole trees. The report can be found here http://www.dogwoodalliance.org/2012/11/new-report-discredits-uk-energy-company-claims-that-pellets-come-from-wood-waste/

[5] For a list of studies into the carbon impacts of biomass electricity, see www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/resources-on-biomass. In addition, the report "Dirtier than coal?" published by RSPB, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace can be found here www.rspb.org.uk/Images/biomass_report_tcm9-326672.pdf

[6] According to a briefing by Department for Energy and Climate for the House of Lords on 14th February 2013, "the conversion of existing coal generating plant to biomass or higher levels of biomass co-firing is a way of keeping open some existing coal plant that would otherwise close before 2016 under environmental legislation, and therefore improve capacity margins over this decade." (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201213/ldselect/ldsecleg/123/12306.htm)



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