Wednesday, April 27, 2016

[Biofuelwatch] Biofuelwatch Job Vacancy

Biofuelwatch Job Vacancy: UK Bioenergy Campaigner
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Photo: Jo Syz
Biofuelwatch has an exciting full-time position for a UK Bioenergy Campaigner.  This position will be suitable for job-share.  We are looking for an experienced campaigner with a commitment to climate and environmental justice.  The job will be home-based and the location is flexible, though it should be within reasonable travel distance from London or Edinburgh.  The UK Bioenergy Campaigner will play an important role in delivering Biofuelwatch's campaigns to #AxeDrax, i.e. to force the closure of Drax power station through seeing their subsidies removed or at least reduced, and to end subsidies for burning biomass in power stations.  Biofuelwatch believes that energy policy must only support genuinely renewable, low-carbon and sustainable forms of energy, such as sustainable wind and solar power, together with major reductions in energy use through energy conservation and efficiency.
If you would like to find out more, then please download our job description and person specification.  To apply for the post (either full-time or part-time for job-share), please email the completed job application form to  by 10 pm on Sunday, 15th May.  If you have any questions regarding this job then please do not hesitate to email us.  Please feel free to distribute this job announcement through your networks - thanks.
Apologies for last week's spam message.  We would like to assure you that our account has not been hacked and that there is no data security concern.  What happened is that somebody who is not subscribed to this list sent the spam message and one of us accidentally pressed the 'distribute' instead of the 'delete' button.
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Saturday, April 23, 2016

[biofuelwatch] Biomass Industry's Take On Biomass Opponents

Here''s what the biomass industry is telling politicians, media, and the public.



Two New Activist Letters Against Biomass, but Little Science to Back Up Their Claims

- April 20, 2016, Biomass101

In recent days, two coalitions of eco-activist groups have sent open letters to members of Congress expressing objections to the Energy Policy and Modernization Act (S. 2012) due to its treatment of biomass energy. The letters have some differences in verbiage and scope, but the signatories are all too familiar, and the scientific distortions are getting pretty old.

Readers who encounter the letters are left to wonder whether they should trust the claims made about biomass—and understandably so. One of the letters sources its "scientific" claims almost entirely to studies authored by one of its own activist signatories. The other letter offers no outside sources of reference at all.


Posted by: Josh <>


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Thursday, April 21, 2016

[Biofuelwatch] Best watches in the world. Pre-summer sale!

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

[biofuelwatch] POINT-COUNTERPOINT: Advanced Biofuels

Starting in the April issue of The Biomass Monitor, we're now running point-counterpoint opinion pieces on various aspects of bioenergy to encourage a bit of healthy debate and broaden our audience.

If you aren''t already subscribed to The Biomass Monitor (and why not?), here are the latest pieces. Leave a comment if you''re inspired to do so.



PRO: "Advanced Biofuels: Nothing's Perfect, But There's A Lot of Good," by Joanne Ivancic, executive director of Advanced Biofuels USA.

CON:  "Advanced Biofuels: The Vast Taxpayer Cost of Failed Cellulosic and Algal Biofuels," by Almuth Ernsting, co-director of Biofuelwatch.


Posted by: Josh Schlossberg <>


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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

[biofuelwatch] Brazil’s thriving soy industry threatens its forests and global climate targets

Brazil's thriving soy industry threatens its forests and global climate targets

Brazil's economy is teetering on the edge of collapse. The country's political regime has been rocked by recent corruption scandals, and impeachment proceedings are encircling the nation's leaders. And yet things couldn't be much better for Brazil's soybean farmers.

At the beginning of the last decade, Brazil emerged as a major soybean exporter. Today, Brazil produces about one-third of the global supply and earns more from soybean exports than from any other commodity.

Although soybean production is generating revenues for Brazil, it could spell trouble for the nation's widely lauded environmental commitments.

Brazil is the first emerging economy that has pledged to make absolute reductions in its greenhouse gas emissions – that is, reductions from the level that it emitted at a specific point in time (2005), not from an estimate of what it will emit at some future time. Its climate plan calls for cutting emissions by more than 40 percent by 2030, with most of its emission reductions to come through avoiding deforestation. By 2030, Brazil has pledged to restore 12 million hectares of carbon-absorbing forest and eliminate illegal deforestation.

As social science researchers who study environmental change in the Amazon and the Brazilian savanna known as the Cerrado, we have seen the country's agricultural sector grow rapidly in once-marginal regions. We believe that over the next several years, with Brazil's soybean sector thriving and its political establishment in crisis, the nation's commitment to slowing climate change will be severely tested.

Why economic downturns are good for soy farmers

Tough economic times for Brazil can mean boom times for soybean farmers. Soybean prices in Brazil generally depend on two factors: the global price for soybeans, and the value of the local currency (the real) against the U.S. dollar.

Obviously, a high global price for soybeans means more money for farms. However, the importance of the local currency is even more critical for farmers' bottom lines. Commodities like soybeans are priced in dollars but purchased in local currency, so when the Brazilian real is weak, farmers receive more value (in local terms) for their harvest and earn higher profits.

This dynamic creates a paradoxical relationship between Brazil's agriculture sector and the national economy: when the economy struggles, farmers reap big profits. In the early 2000s, when the real fell to one-third of its value over a three year period, soybean profits jumped to stratospheric levels.

In response, farmers converted an area equivalent to the size of Indiana to soybean production. In some areas cropland prices nearly tripled.

Brazil's current economic collapse is once again creating windfall conditions for soybean farmers. Over the past year and a half, the cracks in the country's economy have become rifts and the real has lost more than one-third of its value. The farther the currency falls, the higher soybean prices rise. From 2011 to 2016, soybean prices increased by 70 percent, peaking in January 2016.

Percent change in soybean prices, and the value of Brazil's currency, since 2011. Soybean prices in Brazil have surged to near-record levels, even as prices, in terms of U.S. dollars, have declined.

In local terms, we estimate that the value of this year's harvest will be more than one-third larger than the harvest just two years ago. The U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that this year Brazil will produce nearly as many soybeans as the United States, an output that was unthinkable even just a few years ago.

Soybeans are generating valuable foreign exchange, new investment capital and high-wage jobs, all of which Brazil critically needs. As the farm sector's economic clout increases, so does its political influence. Earlier this year during Carnival celebrations in Rio de Janeiro, in a procession seemingly transplanted from a U.S. state fair, dancers dressed as cotton, corn and soybeans paraded through the streets and were "harvested" by a giant float in the shape of an agricultural combine.

Agricultural display at Carnival

Brazil's agriculture lobby is gaining ground as President Dilma Roussef's Partido dos Trabalhadores (Workers Party) disintegrates in a wave of corruption scandals. We believe government support for enacting new environmental regulations and enforcing existing environmental laws is already fading.

Forests at risk

After the international community and Brazil's domestic environmental groups denounced large-scale deforestation in the Amazon in the early 2000s, the government adopted a battery of reforms to reduce forest losses.

Enormous new forest reserves were created and indigenous reserves were expanded. New environmental regulations were enacted to inhibit clearings for cattle pastures and soybean farms. Private agribusinesses worked with environmental advocacy groups, intervening in the soybean and cattle supply chains to discourage land clearing, especially for soybean production.

Evidence suggests that these measures worked. Deforestation fell from nearly 30,000km² in 2004 to less than 5,000km² in 2012. But next year the incentive to clear land will be greater than it has been in a decade. Windfall profits from this year's soybean harvest will give landowners both the incentive to purchase or clear land and the capital that they need to do so.

Early signs of a new wave of deforestation in the Amazon are already appearing. Late last year the Brazilian government released data that showed a 16 percent increase in tree destruction over 2014 levels. The largest increases in forest loss were recorded in Brazil's leading soybean-producing state, Mato Grosso.

The next several years could well pose a breaking point for Brazil's economy, which currently is being held together by the country's booming agriculture sector. In turn, further expansion of agriculture could derail Brazil's climate commitments.

For most of this decade Brazil has received tremendous acclaim for its environmental actions. Brazil also stands ready to sign the climate change agreement negotiated late last year in Paris. But the country's ability and will to follow through on those commitments has never been in such doubt.


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Friday, April 15, 2016

[biofuelwatch] Fw: Cameroon: Women, communities say NO to oil palm expansion

New from GRAIN | 15 April 2016
Mundemba declaration and statement of solidarity
Women, communities say NO to the expansion of oil palm plantations and industrial palm oil
Each year on 17 April, peasants and food sovereignty advocates commemorate the International day of peasant struggle. Twenty years have passed since the Eldorado dos Carajás massacre on 17 April 1996, when military police killed 19 landless workers in Pará state, Brazil. Since then, peasants and workers around the world have continued struggling for land and resisting land grabs for plantations and other extractive activities in their territories. In Asia, Africa and Latin America, the palm oil industry has been one of the worst offenders.
In January 2016, representatives from 40 communities, national organisations and international groups gathered in Mundemba, Cameroon, for a workshop on the tactics and strategies of oil palm companies. Most participants were from communities affected by oil palm plantations or from organisations working directly with these communities. They shared experiences of how oil palm companies are expanding their operations onto community lands and strategies for defending their lands and livelihoods.
Moved by the testimonies of local community members and visits to the communities affected by oil palm plantations in the areas surrounding Mundemba, the workshop issued a "Statement of solidarity with the communities of Ndian Division, Southwest Region of Cameroon". In a separate meeting, women leaders discussed the daily struggles and resistance strategies of women affected by oil palm plantations and industrial palm oil. The expansion of this industry is having a devastating effect on small-scale traditional palm oil production, which is a key source of livelihood, especially for women. The "Mundemba Declaration" affirms the commitment of the women leaders to continue resisting corporate palm oil.
Read the full Mundemba declaration and statement of solidarity here:
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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

[biofuelwatch] Fwd: World Bank Accountability on Forced Resettlements Must be a Priority at Its Spring Meetings


April 12, 2016

Contact: Anuradha Mittal,, +1 510-469-5228

World Bank Accountability on Forced Resettlements Must be a Priority at Its Spring Meetings

Oakland, CA—World Bank accountability on forced resettlements resulting from its programs must be front and center at its spring meetings, taking place this week in Washington DC.

Between 2004 and 2013, nearly 3.4 million people were physically or economically displaced due to World Bank programs in the developing world. In recent years, Bank-funded projects have resulted in forced evictions and human rights abuses in UgandaHondurasCambodia,Peru, and Kenya, amongst other countries. While the Bank has acknowledged failures around resettlement, insufficient action has been taken to address the situation.

In Ethiopia, the Bank recently launched Enhancing Shared Prosperity through Equitable Services (ESPES), which replaces the decade-long, Bank-funded Promoting Basic Services(PBS) program. For years, the PBS program was associated with human rights abuses and the forced relocation of indigenous communities while paving the road for large-scale land grabs in Ethiopia. These issues were highlighted in a report by the Bank's own independent Inspection Panel in 2015. Rather than addressing these grave concerns, the Bank chose to launch an almost identical initiative under a new name—ESPES.

One of the most shocking aspects of ESPES is that it is not subject to World Bank safeguards, including the Involuntary Resettlement and Indigenous Peoples Policies. Safeguards exist to protect indigenous groups against resettlement abuses and harm. With ESPES, the Bank has opted to not use its safeguards and instead relies on Ethiopian Government's own institutions and legal structures to prevent social harm. This flawed approach ignores the fact that the Ethiopian Government routinely uses its laws, such as the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, to arrest critics including journalists, land rights defenders, and political opposition members. The fact that ESPES is not subject to these key safeguards is appalling and irresponsible.

Also shocking is the revelation that the US Treasury violated several congressional laws by voting in favor of ESPES. Since 2014, the annual Appropriations Bills have explicitly instructed the US Treasury to vote against any activities that directly or indirectly involve forced evictions in Ethiopia. Despite the history of linkages between ESPES's precursor program and forced evictions, the US voted in favor of the new program.

It is appalling that the World Bank, whose mandate is to alleviate poverty, overlooks the forced relocation of millions of farmers, rural communities, and indigenous people, resulting from its policies and programs. Government officials meeting in Washington DC must call on the Bank to take responsibility and address land rights and human rights violations in Ethiopia and around the world.


For more information read the series of Oakland Institute's reports on the impact of World Bank's projects around the world.

For more information on Ethiopia, see the Oakland Institute's reports Moral Bankruptcy: World Bank Reinvents Tainted Aid Program for Ethiopia and Ethiopia's Anti-Terrorism Law: A Tool to Stifle Dissent.


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