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Agrofuels & False Solutions to Climate Change
INTERVIEW WITH GJEP CO-DIRECTOR ANNE PETERMANN ON KFPA RADIO:
Anne spoke with KFPA radio about the Copenhagen mobilization and its significance in terms of climate change. Download the KFPA interview from 10 November, 2008 to hear more.
A CALL TO CLIMATE ACTION: 2009 UN CLIMATE CONFERENCE, COPENHAGEN
In September of this year, over 100 activists from 21 countries came together to begin planning a major international mobilization against climate change to coincide with the 2009 UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen, where world leaders will create the international climate agreement that will take effect when the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. Read the Call To Action to get involved!
You can read our critique of the 2007 UN Climate Conference that was published in Z Magazine here
OPPOSE FALSE SOLUTIONS TO CLIMATE CHANGE
Global Justice Ecology Project also works to end false solutions to climate change such as large-scale production of agrofuels (biofuels), carbon trading, and carbon offset forestry. We instead support real solutions to climate change including a vast reduction in the consumption of fossil fuels and wood-based products by industrialized countries, while also promoting small-scale, local solutions to climate change. We are also founding members of the Durban Group for Climate Justice.
Download our new report The True Cost of Agrofuels: Impacts on Food, Forests, Peoples and the Climate, produced jointly by Global Justice Ecology Project and Global Forest Coalition with the Institute for Social Ecology (16 May, 2008).
How False Solutions to Climate Change Will Worsen Global Warming
"Biofuel is worse for the planet than petroleum." —George Monbiot
False solutions to global warming include large-scale production of biofuels, carbon trading, monoculture plantations of genetically engineered crops or trees, and carbon offset forestry.
These industrial schemes are being touted as "solutions" to climate change by cynical corporations as a way to cash in on the rising public concern about global warming. These false solutions will not only have no positive effect on the climate, they will in fact worsen the on-coming climate catastrophe. (for more on the corporate global warming profit making strategy, read "The Corporate Climate Coup" see link at bottom)
False solutions to exacerbate climate change in two fundamental ways:
• They are designed to lull the public into a false sense of security, believing that the problem of climate change is being addressed, thereby impeding the identification of true solutions to climate catastrophe (such as reducing carbon emissions at their source).
• They will directly contribute to climate change by destroying native forests, implementing greenhouse gas-releasing agricultural activities, and by allowing burning of fossil fuels to continue unabated.
It's time now for some real action to stop global warming.
BIOFUELS: ANOTHER FALSE SOLUTION TO CLIMATE CHANGE
"The only goal [of biofuels] is to maintain current patterns of consumption in the First World and high rates of profit for multinational corporations." —MST (the Brazilian Landless Workers' Movement)
"The stage is now set for direct competition for grain between the 800 million people who own automobiles, and the world's two billion poorest people." -–Lester Brown
In Latin America they call them agrofuels, due to the fact that food crops are being diverted into biofuel production. In addition, agrofuel crops are being produced on a massive scale using unsustainable and destructive agricultural practices.
Global Justice Ecology Project is on the leading edge of the agrofuels movement in the US, and is an active member of a growing global movement on this issue.
You have probably heard something about agrofuels by now. There has been a lot of hype surrounding agrofuels —they are being promoted as the wonderful new alternative to fossil fuels that is going to help us stave off global warming.
Industry has jumped on this bandwagon and corporations are sinking billions into ethanol and biodiesel plants, huge plantations of soy, corn, sugarcane, oil palm or other sources of agrofuels, as well as genetically engineered (GE) trees and microbes for future supplies of cellulosic ethanol.
Global Justice Ecology Project and others have called for a serious look at the long and short-term consequences of the replacement of our dependence on fossil fuels with a new dependence on the massive production of agrofuels.
There are a couple of major concerns that we and other groups are emphasizing, which are included below. Our work on the biofuels issue centers on the link between agrofuels and GE trees, forest destruction and displacement of indigenous communities from their ancestral lands.
Why Do We Need a Second Look at Agrofuels?
1) Agrofuels are creating competition between food for people and fuel for cars, leading to skyrocketing grain prices and increasing numbers of people who cannot afford to eat. As one example, the amount of grain needed to create enough ethanol to fill the tank of a single SUV could feed one person for an entire year. There simply isn't enough grain to feed all of the people and all of the cars.
2) The increasing demand for land for agrofuel plantations is causing deforestation and destruction of some of the last and largest primeval forests, which are being logged and burned to clear land for these agrofuel plantations. In Indonesia, millions of acres of primordial rainforest are at stake. The government plans to clear vast tracts of this forest for oil palm plantations for biodiesel for export to Europe, threatening the existence of wildlife including orangutans, rhinoceros and tigers.
3) The logging and burning of forests for agrofuel plantations releases huge quantities of greenhouse gases which are unlikely to be offset by the agrofuels created from the crops grown on these former forest lands. The burning of the forests of Indonesia each year (largely for oil palm plantations) makes it the world's third largest producer of global carbon emissions, even though most of the population lives in poverty.
4) Indigenous peoples who depend on forests for food, medicine, shelter, livelihoods or culture are being forcibly displaced from their lands to make room for agrofuel plantations.
6) The biotechnology industry is using rising demand for agrofuel as a new way to sell their highly unpopular, unpredictable and problematic genetic engineering technology. Monsanto's stocks are soaring as demand increased for their genetically engineered corn and soy for agrofuels. ArborGen is genetically engineering trees for release in the Southeast US and Brazil that have specifically been modified to produce cellulosic ethanol.
Studies on the risks of releasing GE trees into the environment in plantations are virtually non-existent. However, the escape of engineered pollen and seeds from these plantations into native forests up to hundreds of miles away is inevitable and irreversible. The results of this genetic contamination are predicted to be very serious both for humans and wildlife.
So what is Global Justice Ecology Project doing about it?
Our plans to address this emerging social and ecological disaster are many, but we urgently need your support to carry out this ambitious agenda. Please become a supporter if you are not already.
Dr Rachel Smolker, our Biofuels Specialist, has producced a short informational leaflet called, "From Meals to Wheels" on the social and environmental impacts of agrofuels. We will also be producing a lengthy report on the connection between biofuels, GE trees and the destruction of forests and indigenous culture. This report will be produced in time for the 2007 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change next December. We are producing this extensive report in conjunction with the Global Forest Coalition. To download the PDF of our short informational leaflet, click here.
We also give presentations to groups worldwide on the link between the unsustainable large-scale production of biofuels and the dangerous genetic engineering of trees. We have presented to the European Parliament in Brussels, to grassroots social movements in Europe and Brazil, as well as to various United Nations bodies.
We also participate in international strategy meetings with biofuels activists from around the world.
Download our leaflet on the problems with biofuels.
Listen to a recent radio interview we gave on the problems with biofuels.
View our powerpoint on biofuels and GE trees. (Click link and scroll down)
For more information on the problems with genetically engineered trees, click here.
Read The Corporate Climate Coup.