Tag Archives: biofuels

Land taken over by foreign investors could feed 550m people, study finds

By Damian Carrington, June 27, 2014. Source: The Guardian 

A worker at Saudi Star Rice Farm in Gambella, Ethiopia. Rights groups accuse the government of forcing people off their land to make way for foreign investors. Photograph by  Jenny Vaughan/AFP/Getty Images

A worker at Saudi Star Rice Farm in Gambella, Ethiopia. Rights groups accuse the government of forcing people off their land to make way for foreign investors. Photograph by Jenny Vaughan/AFP/Getty Images

 

The land grabbed in some of the world’s hungriest countries by foreign goverments and corporations could feed up to 550m people, according to new research. The crops grown on grabbed land are frequently exported, or used to produce biofuel, but the new work shows it could end malnourishment in those countries if used to feed local people.

Since 2000, at least 31m hectares (77m acres) of land has been acquired by overseas investors seeking to secure food supplies or increase production, a process dubbed land grabbing. Almost half has been in Africa, particularly Sudan. But Indonesia and Papua New Guinea have been targets too. Proponents argue the foreign investment can increase yields and provide development and employment, but critics say the grabs often occur without the consent of those on the land and lead to food being exported. Continue reading

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Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Land Grabs

Honduras: Huge Political Crisis As Right Steals Elections

Note: There are very clear links between the coup in Honduras and the overthrow of Zelaya with the emergence of Honduras as a major center for palm oil production for biofuels–largely for import into the US.  To read more about this and the resistance of Honduras peasant communities against the oil palm industry, visit our coverage of the issue here.

November 28, 2013, By Elena Zeledon.  Source: GreenLeft.org

Large-scale electoral fraud affected every aspect of the November 24 general elections in the Central American country of Honduras. This has sparked a huge political crisis, which matches and possibly surpasses the crises produced by the coup d’etat that overthrew president Manuel Zelaya in 2009. The fraud has denied victory to Liberty and Refoundation (LIBRE) party presidential candidate Xiomara Castro, the wife of Zelaya. LIBRE was formed National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP), which united many sectors that took part in the resistance to the coup.

In Honduras, one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere and occupying an area about the size of Queensland, two decades of struggle has helped develop one of the most social and class conscious movements in the world.

It has been governed for decades by a series of revolving door governments headed by either the National or Liberal parties. When the level of social struggles or political impasses reached a crises point, the army stepped in. Military dictatorships would end these “democratic interludes”, and then step back into the shadows allowing the two parties to play out its game of charades.

Fraud Revealed
This “two-party” cycle was ended on November 24 with the result for LIBRE. Castro is the legitimate president. There is no doubt in the minds of any independent observer that LIBRE won the vote. There is also no doubt that the ruling National Party and its presidential candidate Juan Orlando Hernandez, the self-proclaimed winner, engaged in huge electoral fraud. This took place on in the run-up to the vote, as well as on election day.

Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression, Politics, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

Poplars modified for ethanol production still fight bugs

Note: As the proposed deregulation of genetically engineered trees edges closer with no independent assessment of their risks, the Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees grows stronger.  Please sign the petition demanding a ban on the release of socially and ecologically destructive GE trees, and help us prevent this disaster before it starts.

–The GJEP Team

By Heather Hartmann, Nov 7 2013.  Source: Great Lakes Echo

Grasshopper on hybrid poplar leaf. Photo: Christine Buhl

Grasshopper on hybrid poplar leaf. Photo: Christine Buhl


Insects could help decide what fuel goes in your vehicle’s tank.

A recent University of Wisconsin studylooked at whether genetically modifying poplar trees to more easily produce ethanol could also make them vulnerable to insect pests. The findings, published on ProQuest.com, may bring genetically engineered poplar trees one step closer to commercial use for a biofuel made from the cellulose in plant cell walls.

The genetic modifications had little to no effect on the trees’ susceptibility to insects, said Christine Buhl, who did the research.

The insect defenses of the genetically modified trees are no different than their wild counterparts, said Rick Meilan, associate professor at the University of Purdue. Meilan is involved in a five-year study looking at genetic modifications of poplar trees to more easily produce cellulosic ethanol. Continue reading

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

Biomass energy takes share of $7 billion in U.S. Army contracts

Note: Yay!  A green military!  We can kill people responsibly now!

–The GJEP Team

By Anna Simet, September 24, 2013. Source: Biomass Magazine

Out of 52 bids submitted to acquire a share of $7 billion in energy contracts offered by the U.S. Army, 13 biomass companies have been selected.

Contract awardees include Acciona Energy North America Corp., Chicago, Ill.; ECC Renewables LLC, Burlingame, Calif.; EDF Renewable Energy, San Diego, Calif.; Emerald Infrastructure, San Antonio, Texas; Energy Answers International Inc., Albany, N.Y. ; EIF United States Power Fund IV L.P., Needham, Mass.; Energy Management Inc., Boston, Mass.;  Honeywell International Inc., Golden Valley, Minn.; MidAmerican/Clark Joint Venture, Bethesda, Md.; Pacolet Milliken Enterprises Inc., Spartanburg, S.C.; Siemens Government Technologies Inc., Arlington, Va.; Stronghold Engineering, Riverside, Calif., and Energy Systems Group LLC, Newburgh, Ind.

Contracts are indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, firm-fixed-price, non-option, non-multi-year, with a cumulative maximum value of $7 billion.  Facilities will be designed, financed, constructed, operated and maintained by private sector entities on private land or on installations under jurisdiction of the Department of Defense.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Engineer Support Center in Huntsville, Ala., is the contracting activity.

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Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, Greenwashing, War

Biofuels industry strong-arms governments at UN food security conference

11 October, 2013. Source: Friends of the Earth International

Photo: Reuters

Photo: Reuters

ROME, Italy – Today Civil Society movements blamed Governments negotiating on biofuels at the Committee on World Food security for defending the interests of the biofuels industry rather than the interests of people pushed into hunger by biofuel policies. They refused to endorse the recommendations on biofuels as any references to Human Rights, links with food price spikes and land grabbing have been systematically refused.

Governments acknowledged that biofuels crops compete with food crops and influence food prices but did not have the courage to recommend any action to stop this. The domination of pro biofuel countries in talks has resulted in decisions heavily favorable for biofuels expansion. Governments who spoke expressing strong misgivings have largely been ignored.

“Small scale food producers have spoken powerfully here about the reality they are confronted with every day: that biofuels crops compete with their food production, for the land they till and for the water that sustains them. They called on this assembly to take action to defend the right to food from the impacts of biofuels; instead the recommendations overwhelmingly defend the interests of the biofuels industry and legitimise violations of the right to food.” Continue reading

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Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Green Economy, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

Biofuels project pushing thousands of people into hunger in Africa

Note: The following news story came from ActionAid International.  Soren Ambrose, who is the International Advocacy Manager for ActionAid International also sits on the Board of Directors of Global Justice Ecology Project.

At the same time that solidarity activists are highlighting the destructive impacts of the EU’s biofuel policies, the US government is moving forward with its own bio-fuelled delusions.  In its pursuit of biofuels derived from cellulose, the Department of Energy is working hand-in-hand with agribusiness and industrial forestry corporations to genetically engineer crops and trees like switchgrass, poplar, and eucalyptus for bio-energy production.

We have the opportunity to stop genetically engineered trees before it’s too late – Sign the petition demanding a ban on GE trees here: http://globaljusticeecology.org/petition.php

Please also consider a donation to the campaign.

-The GJEP Team

Biofuels project pushing thousands of people into hunger in Africa

Aerial photo of the lands taken by Addax Bioenergy for its sugar cane plantation in Sierra Leone. (Photo: Le Temps)

Aerial photo of the lands taken by Addax Bioenergy for its sugar cane plantation in Sierra Leone. (Photo: Le Temps)

A biofuels project praised by the European Commission as environmentally and socially responsible is pushing thousands of people into poverty in one of the poorest countries in the world, a new ActionAid report said today.

The report comes as MEPs prepare to take a critical vote on EU biofuel policies next week.

When Addax Bioenergy shortly begins exporting ethanol from a sugar cane plantation in Sierra Leone to the EU to be used in petrol, it will be the first biofuels to be exported from Africa to Europe in commercial quantities.

The EU claims that it does not import biofuels crops from Africa’s poorest countries because of the potential impact that its biofuel policies have on decreasing the amount of land that can be used to grow food and therefore increasing hunger. Continue reading

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Filed under Africa, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Forests, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

G8’s biofuel use contributing to world hunger: new report

29 April 2013.  Source: Action Aid International

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

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.

>> Download ActionAid’s report: Fuelling Hunger

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Filed under Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, Water

Obama proposes major new renewables research

Note: OK, so let’s get this straight – The US government is going to subsidize the destruction of the last remaining native forests and grasslands to produce bioenergy for industrial transportation, and fund it through royalties from offshore drilling.  And fund new nuclear power and ‘clean coal’ projects, while streamlining oil and gas permitting processes on public land and promoting fracking abroad.

And this is being framed as an environmentally-friendly development.

Just making sure we’ve got it straight.

–The GJEP Team

By Carey L. Biron, March 15, 2013. Source: Inter Press Service

Obama's goals include a doubling of renewable electricity generation by 2020. Photo: Denise Morazé/IPS

Obama’s goals include a doubling of renewable electricity generation by 2020. Photo: Denise Morazé/IPS

WASHINGTON, Mar 15 2013 (IPS) – President Barack Obama on Friday unveiled a broad new proposal to step up U.S. research into renewable energy technologies, particularly in transportation, which is responsible for around 70 percent of the United States’ oil use.

The initiative, which the president is calling the Energy Security Trust, would receive around two billion dollars over the next decade, funded through proceeds from oil-and-gas drilling in U.S. coastal waters.

The United States is playing catch-up to countries like Japan, Germany and Korea on fuel cells, batteries and fuel economy more generally.

“The only way to really break this cycle of spiking gas prices for good is to shift our cars and trucks entirely off oil,” President Obama said Friday, speaking at a national laboratory. Continue reading

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Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Green Economy, Hydrofracking, Industrial agriculture, Oil, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests