this is the September 2016 edition of the Biofuelwatch newsletter, complete with a shout out for you to come along to the #AxeDrax Demonstration and Celebration outside Drax Power Station on 22nd October. There is information about important biomass campaigns and developments in the UK, about September's International Day Against Monoculture Tree Plantations, and news about gene drive and about aviation biofuels.
We thank you for subscribing and hope you find this month's newsletter an engaging read.
In this newsletter:
#AxeDrax Demonstration and Celebration, 22nd October
Threatened Forests film screening and public meeting in Edinburgh, 28th September
New briefing about the conversion of Lynemouth Power Station to biomass
International Day Against Monoculture Tree Plantations on 21st September
New civil society briefing and statement about gene drive
New article about biofuels for aviation
Interested in hosting a talk about the impacts of biomass power stations, biofuels or large-scale bioenergy in general? Please contact us and we will try and get a speaker.
1.#AxeDrax Demonstration and Celebration, 22nd October
On Saturday, 22nd October, Biofuelwatch will be joining other climate justice groups and activists, including Coal Action Network, for a demonstration and celebration outside Drax Power Station. We will be assembling outside Drax Power Station (near the South Gate) from 1pm, with speeches starting from 2pm. See here for an article which explains the background to the #AxeDrax event in more detail.
The event marks the 10th anniversary of the first Climate Camp, which was held at Drax and continues to inspire global activism against the root causes of climate change. It will celebrate what climate justice activists have achieved in the intervening decade, and highlight the work that still needs to be done - which includes forcing Drax power station to shut down.
2. Threatened Forests film screening and public meeting in Edinburgh, 28/9
Threatened Forests is a powerful and highly informative film about the impacts of big biomass power stations in Europe and the US, made by French filmmaker Benoit Grimont. It was first shown at a public meeting which we organised with Friends of the Earth in London last autumn. Next Wednesday, 28th September, it will be shown for the first time in Scotland. See here for details and please book your free ticket if you would like to attend.
In January this year, Czech energy company called Energetický a průmyslový holding (EPH) bought Lynemouth Power Station in Northumberland from RWE. RWE had been forced to close this former coal power station under EU emissions regulations. EPH is now in the process of converting the plant to run on wood pellets. EPH has signed a sourcing agreement with Enviva, Drax's single biggest pellet supplier. Enviva has been shown by US conservation NGOs to source wood from the clearcutting of highly biodiverse coastal wetland forests. The new demand from Lynemouth Power Station thus poses a significant new threat to those Southern US wetland forests which still remain.
5. New civil society briefing and statement about gene drives
Between 1st and 10th September, the IUCN World Conservation Congress was held in Hawai'i. One of the concerns highlighted by civil society groups was the development of Gene Drives technologies which combine the extreme genetic engineering of synthetic biology with new gene editing techniques. The Civil Society Working Group, which includes Biofuelwatch, Econexus, ETC Group, Friends of the Earth US, Hawai'i SEED and Navdanya issued a new briefing: Reckless Driving: Gene Drives and the End of Nature. The briefing calls for an immediate international halt to gene drives releases and experiments, the extinction of existing patents on this technology (unless an international agency is set up charged with preventing licensing or use of Gene Drives) and the withdrawal of support for funding and promotion of such technologies.
See here for a new Biofuelwatch article and analysis about aviation biofuels.
Biofuels for aviation have largely dropped off the public radar in recent years, compared to the hype around it when Richard Branson inaugurated the world's first 'biofuel flight' in 2008 (which in fact burned a kerosene blend with just 5% biofuels and which has remained Virgin Atlantic's only 'biofuel flight' to date). But the recent relative media silence in Europe is deceptive: between 2008 and 2015, at least 24 other airlines undertook over 2,050 flights with biofuel blends, and airlines including KLM and United Airlines have made significant new announcements this year. Of all the aviation biofuels which have been touted, the only commercially viable one is based on Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil, which relies on exactly the same feedstocks as biodiesel. Prices for different vegetable oils are closely linked to each other. Increasing the demand for any type of vegetable oil will therefore drive up the price of palm oil, and thus oil palm expansion.