May 27, 2014. Source: Sustainable Pulse
A new GM law being discussed in Brussels this week could grant biotech companies, like Monsanto and Syngenta, unprecedented power over decisions on whether to ban genetically modified (GM) crops in Europe, according to Friends of the Earth Europe.
The new law is being promoted as a way to give governments more sovereignty over decisions on whether to ban GM crops. However, the current proposals give biotech companies the legal right to decide whether a ban should be allowed. If companies refuse, governments are forced to fall back on vague, non-scientific legal grounds upon which to ban GM crops, opening the door to legal challenges.
Adrian Bebb, food campaign coordinator for Friends of the Earth Europe said: “It is an affront to democracy that companies like Monsanto will be given legal status in any decision to ban their products. Governments must be able to ban unwanted and risky GM crops without needing the permission of the companies who profit from them.”
Europe’s demand for biomass power is likely to exceed the amount of wood and land available to grow energy crops within its borders, researchers have warned.
by the International Institute for Sustainability Analysis and Strategy (IINAS), the European Forest Institute, and Joanneum Research this week predicted planned demand for timber will probably surpass the amount that can be sustainably extracted from European forests unless the continent’s waste wood from industry and agriculture is fully utilised. It added that specific new incentives would be required to ensure waste materials are diverted for bio-energy use.
Meanwhile, a separate paper
from the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) also concluded the amount of land available for energy crops without displacing valuable habitats is only around 1.3 million hectares, while the European Commission foresees demand for energy crops that would require an area five times larger in 2030. It added that the amount of land that could be safely dedicated to provide biofuels for the transport sector alone would only meet one per cent of projected needs.
Biomass and biofuels are seen as a low emissions
alternative to fossil fuels, but controversy remains over whether wood and other materials is sourced sustainably and how emissions reductions from the technology are calculated. Some studies show that certain biofuels may actually have a larger carbon footprint than the traditional fuels
they are designed to replace once emissions from indirect land use change (ILUC), such as clearing forests for energy crop production are taken into account.
By Samantha Chirillo, December 11, 2013. Source: Energy Justice Network
Since the European Union (EU) countries set high carbon reduction standards and counted biomass energy as carbon neutral and renewable, biomass exports from the southeastern U.S. have skyrocketed.
Now, as Japan looks for an alternative to nuclear energy, as U.S. corporations get tax breaks to relocate facilities to the countries of least regulation, as trans-Pacific trade agreements give these corporations power over governments, and as Oregon’s Congressional delegation plans to log more public forest, west coast ports are preparing for log and biomass export expansion. In 2013 alone, log and chip exports from the northwestern U.S. already doubled, according to Public Interest Forester Roy Keene. Exports are the surest path to forest decline, as history has shown, says Keene.
Oregon may be the biggest loser, or at least the state with the most to lose, with a third of its total annual harvest volume exported as logs and chips, as Keene states in his article “Outsourcing Forests Costs Thousands of Jobs.”Oregon does not have stringent forest practice laws or headwater protections at the state level, like Washington and California do. Current bills to log the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) checkerboard public forest lands in Oregon fail to account for the large-scale clearcutting and poisoning of near Oregon’s intermingled private forests.
By Will Nichols, September 11, 2013. Source: Business Green
MEPs have today approved a cap on the production of food crop-based biofuels and backed plans to measure indirect emissions from 2020.
A European Parliament vote in Strasbourg confirmed fuels derived from food crops such as wheat, corn, or sugar cannot contribute more than six per cent towards the bloc’s 2020 goal of sourcing 10 per cent of transport energy from renewable sources. MEPs also backed a 2.5 per cent share for advanced biofuels, which are derived from feedstocks such as algae or waste.
The six per cent limit is higher than current production levels, which will please producers who argued the industry needs room to grow and that a low cap would damage investment in advanced biofuels.
However, it will anger environmental campaigners who had wanted a lower cap, arguing the expansion of Europe’s biofuels industry is displacing food production in developing countries, forcing up food prices, and causing clearances of rainforests, wetlands, or grasslands, which can release huge amounts of carbon.
By Chris Lang, April 16 2013. Source: REDD-Monitor
“No amount of structural tinkering will get away from the fact that the EU has chosen the wrong tool to reduce emissions in Europe. It is inherently too weak to get the EU to where it needs to be in the necessary timescale,” says Hannah Mowat from FERN. “The EU can no longer wait for the market to deliver.”
Mowat’s comment comes on the release of a report exposing the Myths of EU Emissions Trading Scheme. A press release about the report is posted below, and the report, “EU ETS myth busting: Why it can’t be reformed and shouldn’t be replicated”, can be downloaded here (pdf file, 1.3 MB). The report is published by several of the organisations that signed on to the “Time to scrap the ETS”declaration. So far, more than 130 organisations have signed the declaration – if your organisation wants to sign on, please send an email to email@example.com.
Meanwhile, Climaxi is holding a Greenwash Circus in Gent on 20 April 2013. The EU ETS is currently in first place (by five votes). Place your vote here.
In February 2013, the European Parliament’s Environment Committee voted in favour of postponing (or backloading) the auctioning of 900 million pollution allowances. The allowances will be auctioned instead in 2019-2020. Although the aim of the proposal is to increase the price of carbon in the ETS, the market’s reaction to the February vote was a 20% slump in the price of EU allowances. Today, the European Parliament in Strasbourg will vote on whether the backloading proposal should be implemented. Continue reading
Filed under Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Pollution, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests
November 30 2012. Source: EurActiv
Practically half of the EU’s renewable energy currently comes from wood and wood waste, according to the EU statistics office Eurostat, but a lack of sustainability criteria for measuring its environmental impact is stoking fears of a hidden carbon debt mountain.
The new Eurostat numbers were issued in conjunction with the UN’s Year of Sustainable Energy For All (SE4ALL), which sets ambitious renewables, energy efficiency and universal energy access targets.
According to the Eurostat statistics, on average, 49% of renewable energy in the EU 27 states came from wood and wood waste in 2010, and most EU states met the majority of their renewable energy obligations this way.
Forest products were most popular in the Baltics, accounting for 96% of Estonia’s renewable energy and 88% of Lithuania’s. At the other end of the table, Norway and Cyprus only used wood materials for 11% and 13% of their renewable energy needs respectively. Continue reading
By Natasha Gilbert, 09 August 2012, Source: Nature
European Commission’s calculations of greenhouse-gas emissions questioned.
Rapeseed oil is a major constituent of European biofuel. Photo: Michael Urban/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Biodiesels made using rapeseed oil may not be sustainable enough to be used in the European Union (EU), say researchers who question the European Commission’s own studies into the fuel source.
Europe’s Renewable Energy Directive (RED), which was introduced in 2009, requires that, until 2017, greenhouse-gas emissions from the production and use of biofuels for transport be at least 35% lower than those from fossil fuels; thereafter, 50% lower. According to the commission’s studies, rapeseed oil — also known as canola oil — meets the RED requirement, delivering greenhouse-gas cuts of at least 38% compared with conventional fuels, making it eligible for blending in biodiesels. The oil currently makes up over 80% of all vegetable oils used in European biofuels.
However, a study published last month — one of the most detailed so far — attempted to replicate the commission’s calculations and found that in most cases the emissions savings were much lower.
BRUSSELS | Thu Sep 8, 2011
Cross-Posted from Reuters
(Reuters) – The European Union’s top climate and energy officials have agreed to delay by up to seven years rules that would penalise individual biofuels for their indirect climate impacts, details of the deal showed.
The political compromise is designed to protect EU farmers’ incomes and existing investments in the bloc’s 17 billion euro-a-year (14.8 billion pound) biofuel sector, while discouraging new investments in biofuels that do nothing to fight climate change.
At issue is an emerging concept known as indirect land use change (ILUC), which states that if you divert food crops to biofuel production, someone, somewhere, will go hungry unless those missing tonnes of grain are grown elsewhere.
“The introduction of feedstock-specific factors would seem to be the most effective solution to address ILUC… However, scientific uncertainties still exist with regard to the exact level of such factors,” said the internal minutes of the July meeting, seen by Reuters.
(Reporting by Charlie Dunmore, editing by Rex Merrifield)