Wednesday, July 31, 2013

[biofuelwatch] Fw: The illegal activities of Herakles Farms in the South West region of Cameroon.

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: "" <>
To: "" <>
Sent: Wednesday, 31 July 2013, 12:41
Subject: The illegal activities of Herakles Farms in the South West region of Cameroon.

Ref - The illegal activities of Herakles Farms in the South West region of Cameroon.

The PM's office


We understand that a US company known as Herakles Farms (SGSOC) are trying to sign a different agreement with the Government of Cameroon and cancel the first agreement dated 17th September 2009 with Government.

We pray that all the reports about the illegal activities of Herakles Farms in Cameroon are read by your officials? Corporate greed and corruption are taking priority over local people's rights and farms. The South West region of Cameroon remains a target for land-grab developments worth billions of pounds. How anyone gave his Free, Prior and Informed Consent on this palm project that he/she does not even trust? It is certain that there are hidden agendas behind this project that this US Company is concealing from Government.

Bribery, the a lack of consultation with the local communities, intimidation, smashing up existing farms, bullying, greediness, selfishness, misleading or falsified documents, no transparency and no information are the illegal activities of  this Land grabbing Herakles Farms (SGSOC) in Cameroon.

"They want to take our bush" a report by John Nelson and Tom Lomax, FPP July 2013 paid by Herakles Farms (SGSOC) says – "Consent to use community lands or property for palm oil development is not being obtained in advance by Herakles/SGSOC from most of the communities whose lands are currently targeted for development, or already affected by it, and the consent being claimed by the company is not being secured from communities in line with accepted international standards for Free, Prior and Informed Consent".

All reports say this US Company is bad for business in Cameroon. The authorities should immediately conduct an effective and thorough investigation the illegal activates of this US Company in Cameroon.

The Cameroonian government should rigorously investigate, denounce, and prosecute associates, local Chiefs in the affected areas and other individuals who assisted and supported Herakles Farms in their illegal land grabbing activities in this country.

All Herakles farms illegal activates are exposed in the following reports -

The Truth behind Herakles Farms False Promises in Cameroon Publication - May 22, 2013 - This report exposes the significant discrepancies between how the company has represented the project to the public and what it is telling prospective investors and creditors. It also exposes internal communications that contradict the optimistic outlook for the palm oil project presented to investors.

The report details a series of 9 misstatements, lies, or inaccuracies found in communications from Herakles Farms around their palm oil project in Cameroon.

The company has attacked these reports, dismissing them as uninformed and biased. This latest report, prepared by recognized experts on behalf of a governmental program, will be hard for Herakles Farms to dismiss out of hand. This is not the work of "activists," but a detailed account of an official mission.

Please read and digest this report that Herakles Farms secured the assessment firm and hired its personal but the assessment report does not favour SGSOC. I am sure you learn more about what the people stand for, when their land is concern.

It's so disheartening and insulting to any right-thinking Cameroonian to learn that Herakles Farms tried to bribe and seduce its way to grab our ancestral lands for 99 years.


Ian Makia
Betock Village


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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

[biofuelwatch] Guardian live Q&A on biofuels this Thursday 1 August, at 1pm BST

Hi all, the Guardian is running a live Q&A on biofuels. Don’t know who the speakers are yet, but would be great to submit some questions about impact of biofuels on development in advance/ follow and tweet on the day.



Biofuels: fuelling a balanced debate


Join our expert panel Thursday 1 August, at 1pm BST, to debate the future of biofuels in development.

The live chat is not video or audio-enabled but will take place in the comments section (below). To join the panel or give your views ahead of the chat, email Follow our tweets on Thursday using the hashtag #globaldevlive


Read more :




Lucy Hurn

One in eight  people go hungry every day. Yet each year the UK burns enough food crops in our cars as biofuels to feed 15 million people. Join the call for Food not Fuel:


Biofuels campaign manager
ActionAid UK
33-39 Bowling Green Lane

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

Skype: looocey


End poverty. Together.


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


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Saturday, July 27, 2013

[biofuelwatch] Sequenced palm oil genome paves the way for sustainable plantations | Environment |

Sequenced palm oil genome paves the way for sustainable plantations

Researchers pinpoint a gene that could be used to boost yields and reduce competition between forests and oil palms

Palm oilView larger picture
Researchers have just sequenced the palm oil genome. Photograph: Oliver Balch

Few environmentalists feel any fondness for the oil palm, with its connections to deforestation in the tropics. But the waxy orange pods the tree sprouts in vivid bunches generate 45 percent of the globe's edible oil, and consuming this incredibly versatile product is almost unavoidable, for it goes into everything from chocolate and peanut butter, to biscuits and cereal. The debate over how to turn palm oil into a sustainable crop has consequently been a priority for some time.

Now, a duo of papers just published in Nature moves a step in that direction, suggesting that breeders could further boost oil palm yields, and in that way significantly reduce the competition between rainforests and palm oil plantations around the world.

In one of the two papers, the research team has made a fully sequenced palm oil genome available to the public for the very first time. But it's thesecond, linked, paper that has sparked the most interest with its more specific discovery of a gene, called SHELL, that gives rise to the most productive and commercially valuable kinds of oil palm fruits.

Environmental concern motivated the research, says Rajinder Singh, an author on the paper and leader of the genomics group for the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB), the government entity that oversees the industry in Malaysia and which funded the research. "The first thing was to try and produce more oil palms with existing land," he says. "The idea is not to encroach in new areas."

Singh explains that the discovery equips farmers in the tropics with the ability to identify and plant only the most productive seeds, in turn reducing the pressure to expand into virgin rainforest. "It has implications in three continents."

The African oil palm is the primary source of palm oil globally, and its domestication in Southeast Asia, South America, and West Africa now drives the industry. The trees produce three kinds of fruit—durapisifera, and tenera, the latter being the perfect hybrid of the other two, because it yields the most oil.

These plump ochre rounds are a farmer's gold, producing 30 percent more oil than other types. Breeders try to control the output of tenera-yielding seeds by manually cross-pollinating the most suitable dura andpisifera plants. But getting a field that teems with tenera is still a challenge, because natural pollinators intervene.

Wind, birds, and insects can result in uncontrolled 'contamination'—which just means that a dura plant's pollen gets crossed with another dura for instance, and gives rise to plants that won't produce the much sought-after tenera fruits. So while manual crossover works for the most part, "there's an error rate associated with it that varies a lot, but it's pretty high,' says Robert Martienssen, a plant geneticist and author on the paper, who lectures at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York.

Usually, farmers have to wait upwards of five years until palm oil plants bear fruiting bunches to figure out if they're going to yield the desiredtenera pods. Knowing the SHELL gene that triggers the production of these fruits, however, gives breeders a way to test things first.

"If you screen at the nursery stage you can select what you want to field plant," Singh explains. Screening would work much the same way as a genetic test on a human. "Immediately with our tools you can check which are the seeds of the type you want," adds Ravigadevi Sambanthamurthi, head of the Advanced Biotechnology and Breeding Center at the MPOB.

palm oil fruit genomeThese fruits of the oil palm shows the Dura fruit on the left and the Tenera fruit on the right. Tenera fruits yield 30 percent more oil per fruit than Dura fruits. Photograph: Malaysian Palm Oil Board

That puts years back on the clock, and gives farmers a sure way to increase production. "Now with proper quality control we might have contamination of less than ten percent," Sambanthamurthi says. Currently, plantations in Malaysia yield four tons of oil per hectare per year. The research could go some way toward achieving the goal of six tons by 2020.

But talk of palm oil expansion raises hackles. Many people hear the phrase and mentally switch to the iconic orangutan, and for good reason, since forest clearance for plantations in Indonesia especially has resulted in death and displacement in orangutan populations.

Palm oil has become synonymous with illegal logging, and slash and burntactics that leave virgin forest devastated. There are also allegations of worker abuse on plantations, and the destruction of indigenous peoples' livelihoods.

Viewing the entire palm oil industry as one ungoverned force, however, springs from "misinformation," says Choo Yuen May, the director general of the MPOB. In Malaysia "more than 50 percent of the land is [still] under forest cover," she says. The government there has held a pledge since 1992 to maintain that 50 percent, and plantations are only supposed to expand onto land that had previously been cleared for crops like cocoa or rubber.

Plantations also generate income for thousands of workers. "It's an avenue for poverty reduction…we cannot forget that there are people out there who are hungry," Sambanthamurthi argues.

And ultimately, palm oil crops only use up five percent of total land area farmed for oil crops globally—yet they produce almost half of the world's edible oil. But when they do infringe on natural habitat, it happens to be tropical rainforest, symbolic of the globe's diversity and a plethora of charismatic species.

Palm oil remains contentious, yet its advance is inevitable. And mapping the genome is not going to solve the problem absolutely. "Our ultimate goal was to reduce the rainforest footprint; the damage that is done by these plantations," says Martienssen. "But biology can only do so much. Policy has to be a big part of the equation."

Speaking from the World Resources Institute (WRI) in a statement via email, Nigel Sizer, the Institute's Global Forest Initiative director, said, "Increasing the productivity of existing oil palm plantations through better plants is promising, but the real issue is that we need better protections for forests and better alternatives for producers to grow their businesses." Future standards should require that palm oil plantations only expand onto land that is already degraded instead of into untouched forest, he went on to say.

For Martienssen, the solution lies in tightening regulations, but also in motivating farmers with the practical solutions that this new research affords.

In the future, governments "will be able to offer farmers, and especially small holders, seeds that have much more predictable yields. The way I think about that is that that would be a strong incentive for those farmers to obey the law," he says. "As much as possible you want the farmer to voluntarily take up those policies."

Councillor Andrew Boswell
Green Party Norwich City and Norfolk County Councillor for Nelson ward
Tw: @andrew9boswell  E:;  Te: 01603-613798, M 07787127881


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Thursday, July 25, 2013

[biofuelwatch] Stop Promoting False Solutions to Climate Change

Article on climate justice perspective, using bioenergy example, for youth audience.

Editor's note: This story is part of PolicyMic's Millennials Take On Climate Change series this week.
I've spent a lot of time outside the mainstream environmental movement as a climate justice activist fighting false solutions, calling for "system change, not climate change." But what does that mean?
Climate change has been used as an opportunity to profit. Politicians tell us that addressing climate change is only worthwhile if it provides jobs, grows the economy and does not interfere with our American way of life, so the primary approaches have been market based:carbon markets and offsets along with an endless parade of potentially profitable "technofixes." Growing the economy is viewed as central, essential, paramount — even to the act of saving the planet. 
But profit motives are not just or ethical, nor are they necessarily effective for solving problems. In many cases, just the opposite. That's why we have to be ultra vigilant to avoid the trap of "false solutions." We need to free ourselves to think critically and holistically and trust our own common sense in order to find real solutions.  
Industrial scale biofuels and biomass electricity and the entire bioeconomy, which would have us using living plant biomass (as well as risky genetically engineered crops and trees and synthetic biology) to manufacture virtually anything now made from fossil fuels, are a poster child for "false solutions." The vast new demand for so much biomass — and the land and water to grow it — has devastating consequences for food, forests, soils, biodiversity and human rights, only contributing to make climate change worse.
As codirector of Biofuelwatch, I've faced each new climate and energy policy (including President Obama's recent speech at Georgetown) not by celebrating "action on climate" (whatever that might mean), but with dread, because I know that those policies will translate into new supports for industrial corn and soy, wood pellets, palm oil and more. In Europe and the U.S., about half of renewable energy is from bioenergy. Huge coal burning utilities are converting to burning millions of tons of wood pellets and chips in place of coal. Coal is a problem, absolutely, but cutting down trees and burning them as a substitute is obviously not the solution.
With over 40% of the U.S/ corn crop going into ethanol refineries, the impact of biofuels on food prices is evident. Growing food to run cars and planes and military activities is not only a dangerous false solution. It is a tragedy that has been referred to as a "crime against humanity," forcing more people into chronic hunger and setting the context for more and more land grabs as wealthy investors and corporations seek to profit from growing and selling bioenergy crops.  
There is a terrible irony to this: We know destructive agriculture practices and deforestation have been a major contributor to greenhouse gases, and that restoring and regenerating ecosystems and soils would not only store carbon, but have many other important benefits. Yet instead of moving to halt deforestation and improve agriculture, we have created vast new demands for biomass, taking us in exactly the wrong direction.
Obama finally spoke about addressing climate change, but his proposals were far from encouraging or realistic. He proposed using CCS (carbon capture and sequestration) on new "clean coal" (or biomass) utilities, but CCS is largely nonexistent, unproven, costly, requires more energy, and depends on the dangerous assumption that we can permanently store vast amounts of CO2 inside cavities in the earth.
Many environmental groups call for more renewable energy as the centerpiece of their approach, but this is a dangerous distraction. Indeed, burning fossil fuels is a problem. But renewable energy cannot solve it. Renewables now provide only a fraction of our total, and virtually all technologies available entail massive problems. Even the manufacture of solar panels takes a lot of energy and materials, releasing toxins and dangerous greenhouse gases. Furthermore, wind and solar are annoyingly intermittent whereas burning biomass can provide "baseload" energy, one reason it has been so favored.
We have been misled into thinking that we can just "plug in" some alternative sources of energy and then just keep on with the same old business as usual, same endless economic growth, same gross overconsumption by some, while others struggle in their same old poverty, same destruction of our ecosystems, same military operations, same culture of surveillance and mistrust, same old system. Is that really what we want?
Obama had the audacity to talk about America "leading the world" on climate. We have indeed been the leading cause of the problem, and the rest of the world is now suffering the consequences.
The U.S. has played a major role in obstructing progress in the international negotiations, firstdemanding China and India agree take more responsibility, then using that demand as an excuse for our own inaction. That is not leadership. It is arrogance and irresponsibility.
People everywhere seek and deserve to have decent lives. Who are we to say that they should not have their basic human needs — clean water and air, food, shelter, education and health care — met, or to say that they should not seek similar levels of luxury as some of us in the U.S. enjoy? China and India and the rest of the world must be allowed to determine their own path. We need to first take responsibility for our own mess. 
We owe an ecological debt for our prosperity. Many simply cannot cope with heat waves, floods, droughts, food price spikes. We are obliged, morally and politically, to provide the assistance and support needed for those suffering the consequences of our mess. And there must be no strings attached, no "loans" to be repaid, and no expectation that we are purchasing political capital, access to overseas markets or any other influence. 
System change will require that we transform our relationship to energy, to consumption, to power, and to economics. It will require that we place human rights and ecosystem protections, not endless economic growth and expanding GDP, at the core of our decisions. We need to relearn the art of compassion, community, fairness and diplomacy, to train and educate our children not for warfare, conflict, consumerism and cataclysm, but to work and live together cooperatively, with respect for one another and the natural world.
The changes we make will be difficult. People will lose jobs, and there will be much upheaval. That's why we need right now to put into place the social structures and institutions that will ensure that everyone has their basic needs met. 
The concentration of wealth in the hands of the 1% is preventing progress. Wealthy corporations have taken ownership of our government and now decide which wars our children will be sent off to fight and die in, who will be targeted by drones and who among us will be labeled a "terrorist." They determine whether or not people are realistically apprised of what climate change is, and how threatening it is. They determine what is on the news. They are purchasing and privatizing the land, water and air right out from under and around us. They are even privatizing genes, seeds, and our children's education.
We cannot sit idle. We need to organize in our communities and do the hard work of building a united movement, one that will not whimper halfheartedly for more renewable energy, but will demand system change.

Rachel Smolker
Biofuelwatch/Energy Justice Network
802.482.2848 (o)
802.735 7794 (m)
skype: Rachel Smolker

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We're also on Twitter @Biofuelwatch.


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[biofuelwatch] Green Investment Bank: the challenges of a green economy

Hi all,

Good coverage in the Guardian online here following Biofuelwatch's Green Investment Bank protest in London at their first annual review:

Green Investment Bank: the challenges of a green economy

The GIB's aim is to help finance the UK's transition to a green economy. But it's not getting an easy ride from campaigners

Transparency doesn't inoculate against criticism: just ask executives at the UK's newly minted Green Investment Bank (GIB), who found climate change campaigners protesting outside their recent annual meeting in London.

Biofuelwatch has taken exception to a £100m GIB loan to Drax to help underwrite the giant power plant's partial switch from coal to biomass firing. Among other concerns, the NGO accuses Drax of sourcing unsustainable biomass, raising serious questions over the extent to which the investment reduces emissions.

The GIB rebuts that criticism. "We think Drax's supply chain is sustainable," its group operations director Rob Cormie says, adding that the bank has carried out "extensive due diligence", including sending staff to the US to scrutinise the power plant's biomass suppliers.

Cormie says the GIB "has empathy" with Biofuelwatch's concerns, and notes that protesters were invited into the meeting in London, where they put questions to chief executive Shaun Kingsbury.

"Our mandate means we're going to be involved in a range of projects – some of which are deemed to be very sustainable, [but], for some at the other end of the spectrum, there will be more debate and more challenges," Cormie says.

"We're happy to engage and try and move that debate forward."

The argument illustrates the scrutiny the GIB will be under in its mission to help finance the UK's transition to a green economy – and the issues it will face to meet it's unique double bottom line of profitability and green impact.

The bank became operational last November, funded to 2016 with £3.8bn of taxpayers' money. Government-owned but independent, it is charged with investing primarily in four areas: offshore wind; waste recycling and energy from waste; industrial energy efficiency; and domestic energy efficiency.

The first part of its mandate – to be profitable – is arguably the more straightforward, says Cormie. "We don't invest in anything unless it has a market return … By definition we should exceed any national government requirement to make an appropriate return on investment."

But the bank's enabling legislation also sets out five "green purposes" that the bank must pursue: reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; more efficient use of natural resources, the protection or enhancement of the natural environment; the protection of biodiversity; and the promotion of the natural environment.

As a starting point, its investment due diligence requires that its commitments meet at least one of those goals, and in a way that doesn't have disproportionate environmental impacts, Cormie explains.

Measuring and reporting the green impact of those investments involves breaking new ground, says Cormie. "The challenge we have is that there have been a couple of thousand years of financial reporting – but about 20 years of green reporting."

In its first annual report, the GIB provides figures for GHG reductions, power generated by renewables, and avoided waste-to-landfill. But, controversially, it not only reports on the GHG reductions actually delivered by its investments, it also looks forward at the reductions they will make over their lifetimes.

The £635m the GIB had invested by the end of March had by that date reduced a relatively small 22,498 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. But those investments will, ultimately, avoid 43m tonnes – roughly the annual emissions of Wales.

Taking such an approach involves assumptions about what the future will look like: how carbon-intensive the UK's electricity mix will be in future dictates the volume of GHGs a low-carbon energy source will displace, and the reductions it can therefore claim credit for.

"The problem with the approach is this 'counterfactual'," explains Shilpa Patel, a former head of strategy and metrics in the climate business group in the International Finance Corporation, part of the World Bank. "It can be prone to dispute."

Indeed, this is another issue that Biofuelwatch has with the Drax investment. The group's co-director Almuth Ernsting argues that the GIB is prolonging the life of the plant – including its three coal-burning units. "The GIB's investment is allowing more coal to be burned in future. It's deeply worrying," she says.

Cormie says the GIB's due diligence has taken this into account, and he disputes Biofuelwatch's assumptions, which he says fail to take into account the declining attractiveness of burning coal as carbon prices rise. "Net-net, the investment is reducing the world's carbon burden," he says.

Given the landscape within which the GIB is operating, it's inevitable it will have to make some tough choices, says Ingrid Holmes, an associate director at E3G, a London-based thinktank.

"Ideally, it would be able to prioritise new clean energy generation," she says. But it's important that the GIB shows it can deploy capital at scale that can have a major climate impact, she adds.

Meanwhile, Cormie at the GIB acknowledges that its impact measurement and reporting are a work in progress. "We're trying to provide rigour, to be very consistent and report against generally accepted methodologies.

"But these are not tablets of stone. I'm pretty sure that in three years time we'll … develop new metrics and new ways to report."

"It's very easy to pick holes" with any carbon accounting methodology, agrees Patel. "But it's laudable that the Green Investment Bank is making a public commitment to this. That can only be to the good."

Mark Nicholls is a freelance journalist specialising in environmental finance, responsible investment and ESG reporting


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[biofuelwatch] Climate Radio: Biomess

The latest edition of Climate Radio on biomass is available for download here:

"It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World. European consumption patterns are already responsible for over a third of of global deforestation which is bad news for the climate, biodiversity and forest dependent communities. And yet the UK and Europe have now decided to burn trees to create electricity. Why are policy makers are ignoring the advice of their own scientists which says this will be worse for climate change than burning coal? Where might millions upon millions of tonnes of trees come from and what impacts might this have for exacerbating land grabs and land conflicts?"


  • Rachel Smolker, Biofuelwatch US, Energy Justice Network
  • Harry Huyton, Head of climate and energy policy, RSPB
  • Almuth Ernsting, Biofuelwatch UK
  • Giuseppe Nastasi, legal advisor at Client Earth


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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

[biofuelwatch] Fw: Herakles Farms paid for the Assessment but the report does not favor HF

please read this report.

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Edimo Andrew <>
To: oroko net <>; oroko working group <>; "" <>
Sent: Wednesday, 24 July 2013, 3:35
Subject: Herakles Farms paid for the Assessment but the report does not favor HF

Dear All,
 please read and digest this report that Herakles Farms secured the assessment firm and hired its personal but the assessment report does not favor HF. I am sure you learn more about what the people stand for, when their land is concern.


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