Category Archives: Bioenergy / Agrofuels

Study: Fuels from corn not better than gas

By Dina Cappiello, AP, April 21, 2014. Source: Yahoo News

Photo: AP Photo/The University of Nebraska

Photo: AP Photo/The University of Nebraska

Biofuels made from the leftovers of harvested corn plants are worse than gasoline for global warming in the short term, a study shows, challenging the Obama administration’s conclusions that they are a much cleaner oil alternative and will help combat climate change.

 A $500,000 study paid for by the federal government and released Sunday in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Climate Change concludes that biofuels made with corn residue release 7 percent more greenhouse gases in the early years compared with conventional gasoline.

While biofuels are better in the long run, the study says they won’t meet a standard set in a 2007 energy law to qualify as renewable fuel.

The conclusions deal a blow to what are known as cellulosic biofuels, which have received more than a billion dollars in federal support but have struggled to meet volume targets mandated by law. About half of the initial market in cellulosics is expected to be derived from corn residue.
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Up for grabs: Land and food in a hungry world

By Suzanne York, April 14, 2014. Source: How Many?

Image: Stephanie McMillan

Image: Stephanie McMillan

The president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, warned that battles over water and food will erupt within the next five to ten years as a result of climate change.  As he was talking of the risks of climate change, the UN announced that food prices had risen to their highest in almost a year.

 At about the same time as these announcements were happening, the Oakland Institute released a report on the World Bank and land grabs, stating that the World Bank was destroying traditional farming to support corporate land grabs (where corporations, individuals and governments buy or lease prime agricultural lands, often displacing poor and marginalized communities who have lived there for generations).

The Uptick on News on Food Security

It’s easy for some to dismiss talk of food shortages and insecurity as just more “chicken little warnings” that have been wrong in the past.  But a look at recent news on food security should give people cause for concern. Continue reading

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Filed under Africa, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs

April 17: International day of peasant struggles

April 8, 2014. Source: La Via Campesina

Image: La Via Campesina

Image: La Via Campesina

This year we dedicate the 17th of April, international day of peasant struggles, to the defense of seeds. Seeds are an essential basis for achieving food sovereignty because almost everything in agriculture depends on them: What we can plant and how it is grown; the quality and nutrition of our food, our ability to account for different tastes and cultural preferences; and also the wellbeing of our communities, our ecosystems and the planet. In this article we explain why this implies not so much the defense of seeds as such but especially the defense of peasant seeds—that is, seeds that remain in the hands of the peasant and family farmers of the world. We also give some examples of how we are carrying out this defense among the organizations in the 73 countries that make up La Vía Campesina.

The seeds used in agriculture are different from those that exist in non-cultivated nature. Until several thousand years ago the enormous diversity of peasant varieties of rice, potatoes, cabbages or barley did not exist as such. The richness of our nutrition today is based on the knowledge, practices, visions and needs of the peasant communities around the world that created them in the first place. Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Africa, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Food Sovereignty, Genetic Engineering, Green Economy, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

False solutions in new IPCC climate report denounced

April 13, 2014. Source: Biofuelwatch

Photograph: Ed Andrieski/AP

Photograph: Ed Andrieski/AP

Today, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group on Mitigation of Climate Change released its “Summary for Policy Makers” [1]. Climate, energy and social justice groups [2] commend the IPCC for clearly acknowledging the close link between economic growth and increased greenhouse gas emissions but warn that the report falls far short on translating this insight into meaningful, holistic and bold pathways to mitigation.  They point to the disproportionate influence of economists, engineers and environmental managers, and a dearth of climate scientists, ecologists or other experts from key relevant disciplines in the group.

The groups are particularly concerned that large-scale bioenergy and biofuels, waste incineration, nuclear power and carbon capture and storage (CCS) are referred to as “low carbon” in mitigation models, despite concerns raised elsewhere that some of those technologies are risky, unproven and could actually make climate change worse [3].  They are also decry IPCC’s support for increased use of fossil gas over the next few decades [4] and by their endorsement of failed market mechanisms, including cap and trade [5]. Continue reading

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UK energy agency wins ‘biomess’ award as major biomass industry conference is targeted by environmentalists

April 10, 2014. Source: Biofuelwatch

Awards1

Photo: Biofuelwatch

Campaigners have awarded the UK Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) the “Biomess Award” after coming out on top of an online poll coinciding with a major biomass industry conference in London, with Drax and the Green Investment Bank coming a close second and third place, respectively.

The award for forest destruction was given at an alternative awards ceremony held last night outside a gala dinner for delegates. After a last-minute change of venue the dinner took place at the conference venue, Grange St Paul’s Hotel. More than 40 people held banners reading: “Big Biomass Fuels: Deforestation, Landgrabbing & Climate Change” and “Big Biomass Is Greenwash not Renewable Energy”.

Biofuelwatch Campaigner Duncan Law, who hosted the satirical awards ceremony, said:

The people have spoken, and as far as they’re concerned DECC are the biggest biomass baddie. Through their outrageous support for the biomass industry they have fuelled a new market for burning wood, and rewarded irresponsible companies such as Drax and their pellet suppliers Enviva for clearing ancient forests and pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

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BREAKING: Industry hype and misdirected science undercuts real energy and climate solutions

Note: In response to a recent media frenzy about poplars genetically engineered to create biofuels and “greener” paper, Global Justice Ecology Project, Biofuelwatch, Center for Food Safety and Canadian Biotechnology Action Network issued the following statement today.

To sign GJEP’s petition calling for a global ban on GE trees, click here.

-The GJEP Team

April 9, 2014. 

poplar

Scientists and environmentalists today condemned a recent press release by researchers at the University of British Columbia announcing they have created genetically engineered (GE) poplar trees for paper and biofuel production, opening the prospect of growing these GE trees like an agricultural crop in the future.

The poplars were genetically engineered for altered lignin composition to supposedly make them easier to process into paper and biofuels. Groups, however, warn that manipulation of lignin, and the potential contamination of wild poplars with that trait, could be extremely dangerous.

Lignin is a key structural component of plant cell walls and a major component of soils.  It is also the product of millions of years of natural selection favoring sturdy, healthy and resilient plants. GE poplars with altered lignin could have devastating effects on forests, ecosystems, human communities and biodiversity.

Poplars include at least 30 species, are widespread throughout the Northern Hemisphere and have a high potential for genetic dispersal.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, BREAKING NEWS, Climate Change, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering

Leaked IPCC climate plan to worsen global warming

By Nafeez Ahmed, April 7, 2014. Source: The Guardian

Photo: Greenpeace handout/EPA

Photo: Greenpeace handout/EPA

A British environmental organisation that has reviewed the draft of a forthcoming UN IPCC report on mitigating climate change has questioned many of the document’s recommendations as deeply flawed.

Dr Rachel Smolker, co-director of Biofuelwatch, said that the report’s embrace of “largely untested” and “very risky” technologies like bioenergy with carbon capture and sequestration (BECCS), will “exacerbate” climate change, agricultural problems, water scarcity, soil erosion and energy challenges, “rather than improving them.”

A leaked draft of the as yet unpublished report by Working Group 3 (WG3) of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to be officially released in mid-April, was obtained by the Guardian. Dr Smolker, a behavioural ecologist and biofuels expert, said that the alarming impacts of climate change identified by the IPCC’s Working Groups 1 and 2 would “worsen” as a consequence of such “false solutions” which have been increasingly criticised in the scientific literature.

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IPCC report proposes sucking carbon out of the air as climate fix

By Martin Lukacs, April 7, 2014. Source: The Guardian

A biomass plant in Metz, eastern France. A UN report has suggested burning biomass then pumping the released carbon underground could provide a fix for climate change. Photograph: Jean-Christophe Verhaegen/AFP/Getty Images

A biomass plant in Metz, eastern France. A UN report has suggested burning biomass then pumping the released carbon underground could provide a fix for climate change. Photograph: Jean-Christophe Verhaegen/AFP/Getty Images

An upcoming UN report suggests that unproven technologies to suck carbon out of the air might be a fix for climate change, according to a leaked draft obtained by the Guardian.

Scientists and government officials gather in Berlin this week ahead of Sunday’s publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s third part of its series of blockbuster climate change reports, which deals with policies addressing the emissions that drive global warming.

But environmentalists criticised the report’s inclusion of a controversial new technique that would involve burning biomass – trees, plant waste, or woodchips – to generate electricity, and then capturing the released carbon, pumping it into geological reservoirs underground.

Proponents of the technique – known as bio-energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) – suggest that regrown trees and crops might sequester additional carbon, making the technology “negative emission” because it might reduce the overall amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Continue reading

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Biomass expansion project scrapped in Washington state

By Paul Gottlieb, April 4, 2014. Source: Peninsula Daily News

Port Townsend Paper is scrapping plans for a $54 million project to improve the mill’s biomass cogeneration plant. Photo: Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

Port Townsend Paper is scrapping plans for a $54 million project to improve the mill’s biomass cogeneration plant. Photo: Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — Port Townsend Paper Corp. has abandoned a much-disputed $54 million project that would have upgraded the mill’s biomass cogeneration plant.

Company President Roger Hagan told the Peninsula Daily News on Wednesday that the company’s construction permit will not be extended beyond the 18-month June deadline for the improvements.

“It’s not a financially viable project,” said Hagan, who took over at the mill May 1, succeeding Roger Loney.

“It is not our intention to proceed with the project or ask for another extension.”

He attributed the decision to environmental challenges that delayed the project, an overwhelmingly strong market for cheap natural gas compared with biomass and the expiration of federal tax-credit incentive programs despite a $2 million state grant for the project that the company received in 2009. Continue reading

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Money-burning incinerator proposed

Note: A viable solution to end capitalism, or a devastating false solution to climate change?

-The GJEP Team

By Mike Ewall, April 1, 2014. Source: Energy Justice Network

moneyburningGeorge Washington Renewable Energy is proposing the nation’s first money-to-energy facility, right here in Dunboro. Critics call it a money-burning incinerator.

Nearly all of the nation’s used money is sent to landfills, but George Washington Renewable Energy sees an opportunity and hopes to generate enough electricity burning old dollars to power 50,000 homes.

Linda Thompson, recent mayor of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, takes offense at calling this the first. In 2011, Harrisburg was the nation’s largest city to go bankrupt, thanks to a trash incinerator that drove the city deep into debt. Her city lost out in a bidding war for this new project. “Harrisburg deserves to host this innovative incinerator. We have more experience burning money than any city in the nation,” Thompson said.

In 2003, when Thompson was on City Council, the city’s incinerator had already lost money nearly every year for a decade, but she voted to support the mayor’s plan to go further into debt to rebuild it, saying that God told her to support Mayor Reed’s incinerator plan. “I’ve consulted God on how to get Harrisburg back out of bankruptcy,” Thompson said, “and what better way than to fuel a new incinerator with bills saying ‘In God We Trust?’”
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