18 Dec 2009

Copenhagen will kill the forests!

Brown, he doesn't care, Obama, he doesn't know...greed and ignorance mean that a 'successful' outcome for Copenhagen will accelerate the destruction of the future, $bns promised are $bns to buy the worlds rainforests and other key ecosystems and to demolish them for profit. We will resist.

Press release by Global Forest Coalition, Biofuelwatch, Grupo de Reflexion Rural, Gaia Foundation, Focus on the Global South, Noah (Friends of the Earth Denmark), Robin Wood, Campaign against Climate Change, Campaign against Climate Change Trade Union Group, Ecologistas en Accion, Corporate European Observatory, Econexus, ETC Group, Rettet den Regenwald.

For immediate release

Copenhagen, 17th December - The new draft proposals released yesterday at the Copenhagen Climate Conference will lead to large-scale destruction of ecosystems and unprecedented land grabs as spurious `offsets' will allow Northern countries to burn ever more fossil fuels say civil society groups who have been tracking negotiations.

Proposals (1) are expected to lead to huge carbon credits under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) for tree and crop monocultures, including for biochar production (2), `no-till' GM soya (3), and tree and shrub monocultures falsely classed as `carbon sinks'. Details are to be worked out by a technical UNFCCC meeting next year (4).

Stella Semino from Grupo de Reflexion Rural (Argentina) states: "If these new proposals are agreed upon we will see a massive boost for crop and tree plantations alike which, in the name of `climate change mitigation', will speed up the destruction of forests and other vital ecosystems, the spread of industrial agriculture, and land-grabbing against small-farmers, indigenous peoples and forest communities. Industrial monocultures are already a major cause of climate change and their expansion will make it worse."

Under the terms of the Kyoto Protocol, no CDM offsets are allowed for existing forests nor soil carbon although a very limited number of CDM credits can go towards industrial tree plantations. Current proposals for large-scale offsetting for `carbon sinks' closely resemble those contained in the US climate bill. Back in 2001, when the US proposed such offsets, the EU had refused them, warning that this would render a climate change agreement completely ineffective.

"The right kind of agriculture, such as organic and biodiversity-based farming, has the potential to store carbon in soils and increase resilience to climate change" said Anne Maina of the African Biodiversity Network, "But realistically, small-scale organic farmers in Africa are not going to be the ones participating and benefiting from the CDM or these complex UNFCCC market mechanisms. They will be locked out of the process, and their livelihoods will be threatened. If heads of state accept this language, it will lead to a destruction of the very same solutions we need to support."

Camila Moreno from Global Forest Coalition adds: "In Brazil we're seeing an obscene agribusiness lobby presenting themselves as the solution while they destroy Brazil 's unique rainforest and savannah habitats and contribute massively to climate change. Yet they continue too ply their trade in the highest political circles with impunity. Theses new CDM rules will further mandate this ransacking of the global South."


Deepak Rughani, Biofuelwatch

Teresa Anderson, Gaia Foundation


(1) The proposals can be found at http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2009/awg10/eng/l15.pdf I WOULD INCLUDE PRECISE PARAGRAPHS HERE

(2) Biochar is fine-grained charcoal applied to soils. It is being promoted widely as a means of sequestering carbon even though there are major scientific uncertainties over the amount of carbon in charcoal which will remain in soils for different periods, over possible losses of existing soil carbon as a result of charcoal additions and over the potential of charcoal dust to worsen global warming in the same way as a black soot from fossil fuel and biomass burning does.

(3) Monsanto has promoted the inclusion of no-till agriculture into the CDM since the late 1990s and they have just been awarded the Angry Mermaid Award for their lobbying (www.angrymermaid.org/). Industrial no-till agriculture involves large-scale agro-chemical spraying to destroy weeds rather than ploughing the soil and herbicide-resistant GM crops are most commonly used with no-till, particularly in North and South America . The impacts on soil carbon are scientifically debated and uncertain, there is evidence that this method can lead to more emissions of the very powerful greenhouse gas nitrous oxide, and the introduction of no-till GM soya in Argentina has been shown to have accelerated the destruction of the Chaco forest.

(4) It is proposed that the 2010 SBSTA meeting of UNFCCC will recommend new CDM methodologies for example for tree plantations, `forest management', a term widely used for industrial logging, and soil carbon management.


Erich J. Knight said...

Please don't throw the Biochar baby out with Geo Engineering Snake Oil bath water.

All political persuasions agree, building soil carbon is GOOD.
To Hard bitten Farmers, wary of carbon regulations that only increase their costs, Building soil carbon is a savory bone, to do well while doing good.

Biochar provides the tool powerful enough to cover Farming's carbon foot print while lowering cost simultaneously.

Another significant aspect of bichar is removal of BC aerosols by low cost ($3) Biomass cook stoves that produce char but no respiratory disease emissions. At Scale, replacing "Three Stone" stoves the health benefits would equal eradication of Malaria.
http://terrapretapot.org/ and village level systems http://biocharfund.org/
The Congo Basin Forest Fund (CBFF).recently funded The Biochar Fund $300K for these systems citing these priorities;
(1) Hunger amongst the world's poorest people, the subsistence farmers of Sub-Saharan Africa,
(2) Deforestation resulting from a reliance on slash-and-burn farming,
(3) Energy poverty and a lack of access to clean, renewable energy, and
(4) Climate change.

The Biochar Fund :
Exceptional results from biochar experiment in Cameroon
The broad smiles of 1500 subsistence farmers say it all ( that , and the size of the Biochar corn root balls )

Mark my words; Given the potential for Laurens Rademaker's programs to grow exponentially, only a short time lies between This man's nomination for a Noble Prize.

This authoritative PNAS article should cause the recent Royal Society Report to rethink their criticism of Biochar systems of Soil carbon sequestration;

Reducing abrupt climate change risk using
the Montreal Protocol and other regulatory
actions to complement cuts in CO2 emissions

There are dozens soil researchers on the subject now at USDA-ARS.
and many studies at The up coming ASA-CSSA-SSSA joint meeting;

tony lovell said...

Imagine if we had a process to remove billions of tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere safely, quickly and cost-effectively - while at the same time reversing desertification, boosting biodiversity, enhancing global food security and improving the lives of millions of people in rural and regional areas around our planet?

We do - it's called changed grazing management and soil carbon.

Please take a look at the presentations on www.soilcarbon.com.au to learn more.

erich said...

Perennial crops & pasture management are a big wedge, and char can make that wedge bigger with lower N2O and methane soil emissions.

Also, may I add this total rebuttal of the misrepresentations of research by BioFuel Watch;

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Nathaniel Mulcahy
To: info@biofuelwatch.org.uk, rsmolker
Date: Fri, 11 Dec 2009 18:57:51 +0100
Subject: Dangerous Misinformation put forth by the Biofuelwatch Group at COP15
Dear Almuth, Rachel, and Deepak Rughani,

I am stunned that after I wrote to your groups (see attached) with the correct information regarding pyrolytic stoves and offered time and again to meet with you to provide you with all the information you had asked me to prepare for you, you chose no not to show up. In your side event yesterday Dr. Rughani insisted in restating the incorrect statement from your November publication that biochar stoves use one third more fuel. I had clearly shown your that this is simply not the case.

Furthermore, in good faith, I had written to you, called you, and you had been provided information based on field work and lab tests that show that the LuciaStove char produces no PAHs and that the LuciaStove uses significantly less fuel than other stoves (as little as one twelfth as much fuel as standard biomass cook stoves that can only use large pieces of wood or charcoal).

That you have deliberately chosen to ignore scientific evidence provided to you is deplorable, and that your misinformation places the lives of the people we have been helping, the soils we have been restoring, and the forests we are replanting at risk says that your personal agendas are clearly more dear to you than the lives of the poor and the health of the planet.

Your behaviour yesterday at your COP15 side event is so contrary to both logic and to your stated “about us” goals, and your lack of scientific integrity so pronounced, that I have to wonder what your objectives really are and who might be funding you.

Cordially yours,
Nathaniel Mulcahy

Derek Wall said...

There is a debate about biochar, there should be no debate about keeping forests in the hands of local people.

Be great if the pro biochar people stood with us all on this.

Erik said...

Derek,(et al) these are bizarre and intensifying times, with so much now at stake. What we need to do is, as you suggest, stand together in defense of forests, forest peoples, common sense, the grassroots, our climate, and planet.

Biochar has a potentially significant role in this as a tool and a strategy for restoring soils, and putting control over this and the capacity for lowering levels of free carbon in the system directly into the hands of those on the front lines, at the grass roots, and within the most economically and ecologically vulnerable populations.

I think if the biochar skeptics and alarmists were to read through the ethical and policy positions of the International Biochar Initiative, you/they would see clearly it's not a question of asking if the "pro biochar people stood with us", because that is already the case.

But standing together requires effort from both sides, to in fact dissolve any semblance of their being sides. And in this, Biofuel Watch and a number of others clambering onto the same bandwagon have been off the mark; by quite an astonishing margin.

Biochar has been painted with the same broad brush as other biofuels, and this is despite an ongoing an earnest attempt by many researchers to bring information and evidence to the BFW protagonists.

The unfortunate conclusion is that biochar has become a commodified issue for recruitment of membership and the funding drives of a group of NGOs who wouldn't know what to do without a fresh conflict as their (bankable) rallying point. Or so it appears.

So yes, by all means let's stand together, work together and learn together. It starts with listening.

Erik van Lennep

Derek Wall said...

I am fairly neutral on biochar but I am partizan when it comes to the indigenous, tell me more about how you support them.

Its my gold standard test.

Erik said...

Hi Derek, "gold standard" is it? Not that I feel any need to be tested or passed (and by who?), but if you want to contact me directly via my website and leave a contact email, I'll be happy to discuss. It's good to meet others committed to shared concerns.

I hope you can understand that when working with peoples on the front lines it isn't always appropriate to detail things on public blogs. Some of my work is sensitive enough that I prefer a bit of discretion around it.

Happy Solstice,

Erich J. Knight said...

GOLD STANDARD: You did not think
The broad smiles of 1500 subsistence farmers say more than Gold Standard? ( that, and the size of the Biochar corn root balls )



Latin America;

Folke Gunther also brings up some major inconsistencies concerning BFW , Bellona and Econexus, urging us to follow the Money;

May I also add this post
From Folke Gunther;

"For some time, I have tried to evaluate from which side the notorious 'anti-biochar' harassment came. Who could have an interest in discrediting such a virtuous method?

A good way is to follow the money.

Biofuelwatch and Econexus doesn't seem powerful enough to stand behind such a well-organized campaign, although they stand behind a lot of the anti-char publications. Having some people (you know whom) traveling around the world anti-charring, costs far more money than is available to them.

The anti-char publications have increased in quality the last half year.
From having the quality of Soviet Union propaganda, with lots of faults and diatribes, they have evolved into a real elegant propaganda display, more like PR texts obviously made by professionals, going from sheer allegations to Reaganisms and nasty tricks as putting a negative word, belonging to another sentence close to a correct statement. (see the latest text produced for Cop15).
Such texts are not cheap to produce. To do that and to give away shiny papers (Cop15), you need a lot of money.

Biofuelwatch (and Econexus) are closely associated with Bellona. And Bellona has an entire sub-page ( http://www.bellona.org/ccs ) aimed at CSS, explaining the virtues of the method (showing great diagrams on its usefulness, although it is just a theory for the moment)
And who need a functioning (or thought-about functioning) CSS system to go on earning money? The coal industry.

I don't say that Bellona is evil that have sold out the fight against global warming for a nice webpage. Perhaps they are just useful idiots, thinking that it is enough to reduce emissions to combat global warming.
But most people on this list (and my grand-daughter, 8) know that it is impossible to reach 350 from 390 without using a minus sign.

And the minus sign is char.

Only by a great increase in stored char plus a large reduction in emissions can move the carbon dioxide concentration back to below 350, which was the level 20 years ago.

Folke Gunther"

Derek Wall said...

In Colombia peasants are killed by right wing paramilitaries to get land for biofuels, about the only people protesting this our Biofuel Watch.

How dare you criticise them, I am thinking maybe you have a financial interest in biochar?

Erich J. Knight said...

Yes, I dare for that very reason BFW has done such great work!
YES, I have spent time, money and much effort networking researchers, USDA, EPA, NASA, NGOs, gardeners, companies and conducting Field trials with the Rodale Institute.

My Interest is open source truth about the transforming power of Biochar soils.

Please contact me for additional work in areas of your interest of indigenous peoples


Carbon to the Soil, the only ubiquitous and economic place to put it.

Erich J. Knight
Eco Technologies Group Technical Adviser
Shenandoah Gardens (Owner)
1047 Dave Barry Rd.
McGaheysville, VA. 22840
540 289 9750
Co-Administrator, Biochar Data base & Discussion list TP-REPP

Erik said...

Just a parting thought:

If anyone else is bothering to follow this discussion, or even takes this blog seriously, it's possible some of them are having a good laugh at the ire and friction being generated here, soaking up energy and focus which would be better put to work finding points of alliance and opportunities to join hands. This is a time-honoured practice; divide and dispose.

As Folke suggests, following the money makes sense. It always does. Big Oil, coal and now biofuels: how many of these masks are hung on the same faces?

And while the well-meaning and impassioned voices in the consumer nations argue over who speak loudest for the victims of our appetites, for the people on the ground it scarcely matters if they are being dispossessed and murdered in the name of dirty or "clean" fuels; or in fact if the route to their loss of lands is oil palms or the new "carbon forest" plantations. They are equally dead.

I also don't think it's particularly helpful to delve into presumptions and emotional challenges over a few (possibly, but maybe not really) differences in perspective. Especially not on a blog or other online forum. There's simply too little known about one another to base much upon.

For instance, I had two very close friends and valued colleagues disappear while assisting one of the Indigenous nations in Colombia; people under ongoing genocidal terror attacks funded by a multinational oil company. Their tortured and mutilated bodies were found some weeks later, dumped over the border on the Venezuelan side of the river.

Anybody still wanna say BFW are the only ones active there on behalf of the locals?

See ya 'round sometime. Maybe.

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