“Deforestation Biofuels” Awareness Grows

The fact that all biofuels are not created equal in terms of environmental benefits is starting to get more press coverage and policy-makers are being forced to face the issue of “deforestation biofuels” [search] — those like palm and soya oils that destroy rainforests releasing much more carbon than they prevent. The European Commission (EC) now admits that “Europe's dash for biofuels could accelerate the destruction of tropical rainforests“. This is particularly gratifying because EcoInternet was the first to raise the issue of deforestation biofuels internationally through several protests over recent years — including campaigning against EC arbitrary biofuel goals which did not differentiate between environmental desirability of biofuels produced locally and those sourced from cleared rainforests. Here is our most recent alert. There is now an entire movement spawned by our actions. Building awareness is one thing, but actually stopping the rush to deforestation biofuels is another. It is unconscionable that rather than reducing their energy use, both Europe and the U.S. are pushing biofuels as a means to continue their conspicuous consumption of energy. And Indonesia wants to be paid to protect their rainforests even as they ramp up rainforest destruction for oil palm plantations to produce biofuel, not appreciating that these plantations on peatlands that burn frequently is extremely poor tropical land managment. We must resist the expansion of rainforest biofuels — as the Dutch are trying to do — or we will lose both our rainforests and our climate system.

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5 Responses

  1. Louis McCarten says:

    ” Vital Expansion of Sumatra's Bukit Tigapuluh National Park Has Been Scrapped in order to Make Way for Acacia Plantations.”
    According to a recent article at the website “EYES ON THE FOREST” a planned 100,000 expansion of the enormously important Bukit Tigapuluh National Park in southern Sumatra has been pre-empted by the infamous Asia Pulp and Paper Corporation in order to make room for acacia plantations. Two-thirds of Bukit Tigapuluh's total area has already been subjected to timber piracy in recent years and the expansion of the park was heralded as a savior for many threatened Sumatran species among them the endangered selo palm tree, the rafflesia haselti, the koompassia excelsa tree, the gravely imperiled Sumatran tiger, the Malayan tapir,the false ghavial, several species of hornbills, among many others.
    Bukit Tigapuluh holds the largest remaining areas of primary lowland rain forest on the island of Sumatra and without the expansion the park's current area of in tact primary forest may be too small to save many species dependent upon remaining Sumatran lowland forest.
    If possible, this would make a legitimate Action Alert as Asia Pulp and Paper has an already-tarnished reputation. Its interception of conservation plans for the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park merit a legal battle. Sumatra's lowland rain frest is nearly gone, partly due to the abusive practices of this sorry excuse for a corporation.

  2. Almuth Ernsting says:

    Below is a very critical press release by international NGOs about the Dutch proposal:
    27 April 2007,Paraguay / Argentina / The Netherlands
    International NGOs: Dutch report on Biomass Sustainability Criteria lacks vision from the South
    Today, the final report of the Dutch initiative to develop criteria for `Sustainable
    Biomass' is presented by its authors to the Dutch government. Because the EU
    plans to strongly promote the use of biofuels – now more often called 'agrofuels' –
    the (un)sustainability of the large scale production of agrofuel crops is at the
    centre of international attention.
    The undersigned organisations express their disappointment that the committee responsible (the Cramer committee) has not consulted with civil
    society organisations in the South, where most biomass (for example for
    agrofuels), will be produced. The perspectives of smallholders, local communities and indigenous peoples, often suffering the consequences of monoculture expansion, have not been heard. As past experiences with developing certification
    schemes have shown, local stakeholder participation, especially in the criteria
    setting process, is crucial. Not only for its credibility, but also for a sound analysis of the social and environmental problems related to monoculture production.
    Apart from that, the amounts of land used up by the monoculture plantations, and
    the economical interestes linked to them, lead us to believe the implementation of any sustainability criteria to be very difficult. In the case of soy, a previous criteria-
    setting initiative – the Round Table on Responsible Soy – has been rejected by many civil society organisations representing local stakeholders.
    Another mayor failure of the report is that it does not even reject the `book and claim

  3. Marc Sommer says:

    He Glen,
    Holland is part of Europe.
    Indonesia and the moneylender China are cutting the rainforest in Indonesia , plant oil palm trees, in order to get hard cash from Europe.
    But Europese cars have the most economic motors, yes.'Cause the europeans see the necessity of lowering CO2 emission.
    Marcel Sommer

  4. Jim says:

    Today Greenpeace, WWF, FoE, RSPB and Enoughsenough are running a full page advert in several UK national newspapers over responding to the government's RTFO consultation.
    The headline is “Tell the government to choose the right biofuel or the orang-utan gets it” (picture shows a petrol pump pointed at an oran-utan's head). They advise in the advertisement calling for compulsory sustainability standards for biofuels, and to say no to 'deforestation diesel' and yes to real 'green fuels'. The webpage with link to a copy of advert is at: http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/biofuels
    The campaign is unclear on the issue of which biofuels are green, which could reflect some debate among them as to how to define this. I'm going to email them all and ask:
    (i) Please oppose targets for biofuels and biomass, since they force a certain amount of land for this use regardless of how high food prices are at any one time, which means the targets one way or another force malnutrition of the poor and deforestation etc at such times;
    (ii) Please oppose the 5% UK biofuel targets already announced, and proposals to increase them;
    (iii) Please do not promote signals to government that biofuels will be green if they have sustainability monitoring. The FAO, Canadian Government and palm oil industry all already note that an increase in rapeseed oil use for biodiesel in the EU is indirectly causing increased EU palm oil imports.
    There is no established mechanism to disconnect an increase in demand from increased uptake of land at the expense of carbon stores, biodiversity, food production or small farmer livelihoods.
    (iv) Please oppose the current EU policy favouring liquid biofuels over solid biomass, even though the latter often produces much higher emissions savings from the same land.
    (v) Please do not compromise on the above for the sake of the largest possible NGO coalition. Merely calling for mandatory sustainability certification as you are doing will do almost nothing to avert the problems you are rightly highlighting.
    The contact email addresses or screens are: info@uk.greenpeace.org , whenisenoughsenough@hotmail.co.uk , http://www.wwf.org.uk/sitehelp/feedback.asp , http://www.foe.co.uk/feedbackcomment.html , http://www.rspb.org.uk/contactus/
    The RTFO consultation must be replied to by May 17. Biofuelwatch's page on this is at http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/alerts.php#rtfo .

  5. Almuth says:

    Dear Glen,
    not a newspaper article or a report for the site, but I thought you'd be very interested to hear that the IPCC apparently now say that global carbon emissions from peat degradation exceed those from deforestation: http://www.wetlands.org/news.aspx?id=a7cf1f40-2c52-4727-81ed-2ac36dd3ba26 (with South-east Asia being the biggest single source of peat emissions).
    Best wishes,

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