A new report by the Global Forest Coalition closely examines the real climate impact of replacing fossil fuels with bioenergy resources. The study pulled together various case studies from around the world, picking apart the environmental, ecological and social impacts of large-scale wood based bioenergy.
Photo: Orin Langelle
Ultimately, the study concluded that wood-based bioenergy is a misguided industry, distracting the public and detracting from real, sustainable solutions to climate change. Some of the findings and conclusions include:
- Wood burning is an unsustainable model that perpetuates the overconsumption of energy.
- The increase in demand for wood in larger, industrialized nations like the U.S. and U.K. strongly impact forests and communities all over the world.
- The majority of the issues are the result of bioenergy subsidies offered to global bioenergy and biotechnology corporations.
Just a year ago billionaire Vinod Khosla was raving to magazines, newspapers and, most importantly, investors, about his plans to build a bioenergy plant in the U.S. southern state of Mississippi that he claims would generate energy better than Mother Nature herself.
Vinod Khosla speaks about fuels of the future at a biotech conference in this 2007 photo. Khosla’s ambitious plan to convert wood chips into hydrocarbons crashes into the stubborn economics of the industry. Photo: John Raoux/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Khosla has since filed for bankruptcy and left the project empty and abandoned, along with his hundreds of investors facing serious debt. A recent article in the Washington Post shows how the plant continuously lost money and how Khosla repeatedly backed bad agriculture ideas that failed to produce profits or improve the climate situation.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
11 October, 2013. Source: Friends of the Earth International
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
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
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)
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
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