Briefing

Bioenergy Out: Why bioenergy should not be included in the next EU Renewable Energy Directive

September 2015

NOAH (Friends of the Earth Denmark), Biofuelwatch, Econexus, Global Forest Coalition, World Rainforest Movement, Rettet den Regenwald e.V., and Corporate Europe Observatory

Renewable energy legislation such as the EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED) aims to significantly scale up forms of energy classed as renewable, with the stated aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. There has been a lack of critical debate about the definition of renewable energy to date. According to the International Energy Agency, renewable energy is "energy derived from natural processes (e.g. sunlight and wind) that are replenished at a faster rate than they are consumed".

Large-scale industrial bioenergy does not meet this definition because it relies on a major expansion of industrial agriculture,
monoculture tree plantations, and industrial logging, which deplete and pollute soils and water, destroy natural ecosystems and biodiversity, and destroy the livelihoods of many millions of people, particularly in the global South.
Furthermore, large-scale industrial bioenergy cannot meet the EU’s stated aim of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) because it leads to emissions of carbon and other greenhouse gases that are commonly greater than those from the use of fossil fuels.
Nevertheless, within the EU's overall renewable energy target, bioenergy competes with more sustainable and climate-friendly renewable energy rather than with fossil fuels.
This briefing makes the case for taking bioenergy out the new EU Renewable Energy Directive for 2020-230.

Genetic Engineering in Plants and the “New Breeding Techniques (NBTs)”

Inherent risks and the need to regulate

December 2015

Dr. Ricarda A. Steinbrecher

Over the last 5-10 years there have been rapid developments in genetic engineering techniques (genetic modification). Along with these has come the increasing ability to make deeper and more complex changes in the genetic makeup and metabolic pathways of living organisms. This has led to the emergence of two new fields of genetic engineering that overlap with each other: synthetic biology and the so-called New Breeding Techniques (NBTs).

Engineered to fail?

Climate-related Geoengineering

April 2012

CBD Alliance

Geoengineering refers to a range of proposed technologies designed to deliberately intervene in and alter earth systems on a large-scale – particularly proposals to technologically manage the climate system as a ‘technofix’ to climate change.
In Oct 2010 the CBD adopted a de facto moratorium on testing and deployment of geoengineering technologies and initiated reports into the governance of geoengineering and potential impacts on biodiversity (decision x/33 paragraphs 8w and 9 l and m).
At SBSTTA 16, Parties will review those studies and make further recommendations for governance of geoengineering. Given the clear conclusions of those studies – that most geoengineering is not governed by other international instruments and also that numerous risks to biodiversity and livelihoods have been identified – this is the moment to reaffirm and strengthen that moratorium and to initiate a geoengineering test ban.

Are we continuing to fuel Biodiversity Loss?

Biofuels, Bioenergy, Biochar and the Technologies of the new Bioeconomy

April 2012

CBD Alliance

Industrial scale bioenergies, including biofuels are rapidly expanding, creating massive new demand for wood, vegetable oil and agricultural products. Already these demands are inflicting serious and irreversible impacts on forests and other natural ecosystems, soils and water resources. Expansion of industrial monocultures, including tree plantations, to meet this demand occurs at the expense of biodiversity and food production, while also contributing to “land grabs”, undermining the rights of peasant farmers and indigenous peoples, and hampering efforts to achieve food sovereignty and agrarian reform.
The CBD Secretariat's report rightly acknowledges many of these negative impacts. However, in line with COP10 decision X/37, it focuses predominantly on 'tools', i.e. standards and certification, to address the often complex direct and indirect negative impacts, without assessing whether those tools are credible instruments.
Standards and certification schemes per se have not been effective and are no match for countering the drivers of bioenergy expansion: targets, mandates and subsidies, especially in Europe and North America. To effectively address the negative impacts, those incentives need to be eliminated.

The carbon market dream: millions of offsets from land-use “sinks”

November 2010

Econexus and Biofuelwatch

Carbon traders and high emitting Parties would like all land-use to count as carbon sinks to offset sources, delay reducing emissions and make money for carbon markets. There is more than one route to this goal: REDD++ could be one way, and CDM in LULUCF is another, as we shall see. Parties could also be enabled to use every current and future market-based mechanism to meet their reduction commitments. This briefing provides background to these key issues for Cancun.

Carbon markets – A distraction from the real priority: immediate emission reductions

November 2010

Helena Paul

In discussions about climate, market interests are of course focused on finance and how the market can participate. In this context, market interests include not just carbon markets, but also land and commodity markets, mining, timber and paper, that hope to profit from offsets. There is a real risk that their increased participation could give market mechanisms, traders and investors more power over development and also over land than developing countries and their peoples. Before they will commit, market players want incentives to invest, voluntary standards, enhanced returns, reduced risk and guarantees against failure to deliver. Private investors want to greatly expand the carbon markets, where money can be made in the short term, in order to attract traders. They hope to gain from multiple market devices linked to claimed carbon sequestration or emission reductions. This briefing raises some of the issues that must be considered, especially by developing countries and their peoples.

Agriculture and soils in carbon trading

December 2009

Prepared by Jonathan Ensor (Practical Action), Almuth Ernsting (Biofuelwatch), Susanne Gura (EcoNexus) & Helena Paul (EcoNexus)

Including soil carbon sequestration in a Copenhagen agreement may provide opportunities for commercialization and profit, but should not be confused with proven strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, building resilient food systems and empowering rural communities.

Agrofuels and the Myth of the Marginal Lands

September 2008

by the African Biodiversity Network, Biofuelwatch, EcoNexus, the Gaia Foundation, Salva La Selva and Watch Indonesia

It is claimed that growing agrofuels on marginal lands will bring development benefits to Southern countries, while avoiding the negative impacts on forests, food security, climate change and land rights, brought about by agrofuels so far. But a closer look finds that growing on “marginal” lands will not avoid these problems, but exacerbate them.

Why 'marginal' land does not solve the biofuel problems

September 2008

by Helena Paul

Partly in order to respond to accusations that agrofuels compete with food production, some propose that agrofuel crops should only be planted on marginal or idle land. We are told there are millions of hectares of such land around the world. But before considering what could be grown on it we must define "marginal land".
So-called marginal land may be a vital resource to local communities - especially women - to herders, pastoralists and to biodiversity.

Genetically Engineered Trees: No Solution to Global Warming

UN COP-8 Briefing No. 2

March 2006

Published by EcoNexus & Global Justice Ecology Project

Genetically engineered trees do not offer a solution to global warming, rather they are a global distraction from finding real solutions to the problems of global warming. In addition, they threaten the world’s forests through gene flow and other hazards. This is why people on all continents are raising the call for a global moratorium on the release of genetically modified trees into the environment.

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