Asia

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Sub-regions / Countries

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News

  • Report Links Biofuels With Food Prices, 4 August 2011 by The Wall Street Journal: "For years, commentators have blamed Asia’s rapidly-expanding middle class for pushing up the cost of food and creating markets so volatile prices have spiked to record levels two times in four years."
    • "But according to new research for the United Nations’ food body, the increasing diversion of grain and oilseeds to create fuel—particularly in the U.S. and Europe, which spend an estimates $8 billion a year supporting their biofuel industries—has had a far greater effect."
    • "In contrast to mainstream belief, it argues that without biofuels, the rate of feed consumption in everywhere but the Soviet Union (whose livestock industry is still recovering from a collapse under Communism) is actually slowing—despite the jump in demand for meat in Asia."
    • "Because of this, the report finds that 'limiting the use of food to produce biofuel is the first objective to be pursued to curb demand.' Those that are used should be produced 'where it is economically, environmentally and socially feasible to do so, and traded more freely,' it adds."[1]
  • The Extraordinary Collapse of Jatropha as a Global Biofuel, 2 August 2011 by Environmental Science & Technology: "In a massive planting program of unprecedented scale millions of marginal farmers and landless people were encouraged to plant Jatropha across India through attractive schemes....Similar measures were undertaken across other developing countries involving millions of small farmers in the hope that it would not only provide renewable energy but also enhance their incomes....By 2008, Jatropha had already been planted over an estimated 900000 ha globally of which an overwhelming 85% was in Asia, 13% in Africa and the rest in Latin America, and by 2015 Jatropha is expected to be planted on 12.8 million ha worldwide."
    • "But the results are anything but encouraging. In India the provisions of mandatory blending could not be enforced as seed production fell far short of the expectation and a recent study has reported discontinuance by 85% of the Jatropha farmers....In Tanzania the results are very unsatisfactory and a research study found the net present value of a five-year investment in Jatropha plantation was negative with a loss of US$ 65 per ha on lands with yields of 2 tons/ha of seeds...."
    • "...A case study of Jatropha plantations raised in 1993–1994 in the Indian province of Andhra Pradesh had reported actual yields that were far below expectations and the species was found to be prone to termite attacks, water logging, vulnerable to drought in the planting year and delayed yields."
    • "...As an immediate step an international body like the FAO may have to intervene to stop further extension of Jatropha in new areas without adequate research inputs. Greater investments in dissemination of scientific data will help in ensuring due diligence does not cause undue delays in decision making."[2]
  • Climate impact threatens biodiesel future in EU, 8 July 2011 by Reuters: "Europe's world-leading $13 billion biodiesel industry, which has boomed in the wake of a decision by Brussels policymakers in 2003 to promote it, is now on the verge of being legislated out of existence after the studies revealed biodiesel's indirect impact cancels out most of its benefits."
    • "The EU has been arguing for two years over the extent of indirect damage to the environment caused by it setting a target of increasing biofuel use to 10 percent of all road fuels by 2020, from less than three percent today."
    • "Its own analysis shows the target may lead to an indirect one-off release of around 1,000 megatonnes of carbon dioxide -- more than twice the annual emissions of Germany."
    • "Biofuels were once seen as a silver bullet for curbing transport emissions, based on a theory that they only emit as much carbon as they absorbed during growth."
    • "But that has been undermined by a new concept known as 'indirect land-use change' (ILUC), which scientists are still struggling to accurately quantify."
    • "'The experts unanimously agreed that, even when uncertainties are high, there is strong evidence that the ILUC effect is significant,' said the report from the Commission's November workshop."
    • "Biodiesel from Asian palm oil, South American soy beans, and EU rapeseed all had a bigger overall climate impact than conventional diesel, said a fourth leaked document."[3]
  • Mission signs contract to supply ISCC sustainability certified product, 2 May 2011 by Your Industry News: "Mission NewEnergy Limited, a global leader in providing energy from renewable sources, is pleased to announce that it has signed a contract to supply sustainability-certified product to a major international producer and distributor of refined oil products."
    • "'This is the culmination of two years of work by the Mission team in collaboration with International Sustainability & Carbon Certification System (ISCC) and FELDA. We are really proud to become the only certified supplier of palm-based products into the European market. It has opened a new market for us and we are currently in negotiations with several other buyers for our certified product,' said Nathan Mahalingam, Group CEO of Mission."
    • "In early March, Mission announced that it had established Asia’s first fully integrated ISCC certified palm biodiesel supply and production chain, in collaboration with FELDA."
    • "FELDA, a Malaysian government corporation and one of the world’s largest palm oil producers, in collaboration with Mission, Malaysia’s largest biodiesel refiner recently completed ISCC certification of two of its mills and eight plantations in Peninsular Malaysia."[4]
  • Small-scale farmers increasingly at risk from 'global land grabbing', 15 April 2011 by The Guardian: "Fresh evidence from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the former Soviet Union was presented last week at an international conference on 'global land grabbing' convened by the Land Deal Politics Initiative and hosted by the Future Agricultures Consortium at the Institute of Development Studies, where researchers revealed documentation of land deals amounting to over 80m hectares – almost twice what was previously estimated."
    • "With land deals accelerating, particularly in Africa, it is essential that the fine print of such deals is subject to careful scrutiny, and that transparent and accountable governance mechanisms are put in place."
    • "The rush to acquire land is driven by four factors: food price volatility and unreliable markets; the energy crisis and interest in agro-energy/biofuels; the global financial crisis; and a new market for carbon trading."
    • "The commodification and privatisation of land and the dispossession of farmers and herders is seldom taken into account in the boardrooms of corporations or in high-level meetings with governments."[5]
  • World Bank lifts moratorium on palm oil investments, 1 April 2011 by Reuters: "The World Bank on Friday lifted an 18-month global moratorium on lending for new palm oil investments, endorsing a new strategy that focuses on supporting small farmers that dominate the sector."
    • "After meeting with 3,000 stakeholders, including farmers, environmental and social groups, and businesses, the World Bank's private-sector lender, the International Finance Corp (IFC), said palm oil investments could contribute to economic growth and reduce poverty, while also being eco-friendly."
    • "Palm oil employs over six million rural poor around the globe. Some 70 percent of palm oil production is used as staple cooking oil by the poor in Asia and Africa."
    • "Palm oil companies have said the industry has been unfairly vilified for cutting down forests and draining peatlands -- contributing to huge amounts of planet-warming carbon dioxide entering into the atmosphere."[6]
  • Failure to act on crop shortages fuelling political instability, experts warn, 7 February 2011 by The Guardian: "World leaders are ignoring potentially disastrous shortages of key crops, and their failures are fuelling political instability in key regions, food experts have warned."
    • "Food prices have hit record levels in recent weeks, according to the United Nations, and soaring prices for staples such as grains over the past few months are thought to have been one of the factors contributing to an explosive mix of popular unrest in Egypt and Tunisia."
    • "The UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation said this week that world food prices hit a record high in January, for the seventh consecutive month. Its food price index was up 3.4% from December to the highest level since the organisation started measuring food prices in 1990."
    • "Water scarcity, combined with soil erosion, climate change, the diversion of food crops to make biofuels, and a growing population, were all putting unprecedented pressure on the world's ability to feed itself, according to [Lester] Brown" of the Earth Policy Institute.
    • "Richer countries such as China and Middle Eastern oil producers have reacted by buying up vast tracts of land in poorer parts of the world, such as sub-Saharan Africa and parts of south-east Asia."
    • "There were widespread food riots in 2008 in Africa, Latin America and some Asian countries, as soaring grain prices put staple foods out of reach of millions of poor people."[7]
  • Biofuel jatropha falls from wonder-crop pedestal, 21 January 2011 by Reuters: "Jatropha, a biofuel-producing plant once touted as a wonder-crop, is turning out to be much less dependable than first thought, both environmentalists and industry players say."
    • "Some biofuel producers found themselves agreeing with many of the criticisms detailed in a report launched by campaign group Friends of the Earth this week -- 'Jatropha: money doesn't grow on trees.'"
    • "Jatropha has been widely heralded as a wonder plant whose cultivation on non-arable land in Africa, Asia and Latin America would provide biodiesel and jobs in poor countries without using farmland needed to feed growing numbers of local people."
    • "'Jatropha is not the miracle crop that many people think it is,' said Dominic Fava, business development manager of British biofuels firm D1 Oils, which processes jatropha grown in Asia and Africa."
    • "'The idea that jatropha can be grown on marginal land is a red herring,' Harry Stourton, Business Development Director of UK-based Sun Biofuels, which cultivates jatropha in Mozambique and Tanzania, told Reuters."
    • "'It does grow on marginal land, but if you use marginal land you'll get marginal yields,' he said."[8]
  • Biofuel worse for climate than fossil fuel - study, 7 November 2010 by Reuters: "European plans to promote biofuels will drive farmers to convert 69,000 square km of wild land into fields and plantations, depriving the poor of food and accelerating climate change, a report warned on Monday."
    • "As a result, the extra biofuels that Europe will use over the next decade will generate between 81 and 167 percent more carbon dioxide than fossil fuels, says the report."
    • "Nine environmental groups reached the conclusion after analysing official data on the European Union's goal of getting 10 percent of transport fuel from renewable sources by 2020."
    • "But the European Commission's energy team, which originally formulated the goal, countered that the bulk of the land needed would be found by recultivating abandoned farmland in Europe and Asia, minimising the impact."[9]
  • UNECE Black Carbon Group Holds First Meeting, 28 June 2010 by Climate-L.org: "The first meeting of the Ad Hoc Expert Group on Black Carbon under the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution of the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) was held in Brussels, Belgium, on 17-18 June 2010."
    • "During the meeting, national experts and policymakers from Europe, North and South America and Asia reviewed the current state of black carbon research, discussed knowledge gaps, and explored future strategies for reducing the pollutant’s emissions."
    • "By the end of 2010, the Group, chaired by Norway and the US, is expected to provide options for potential revisions to the 1999 Gothenburg Protocol, enabling parties to the Convention to mitigate black carbon as part of a broader particulate matter strategy for health purposes and to achieve climate co-benefits."[11]
  • Surging costs hit food security in poorer nations, 6 June 2010 by Associated Press: "With food costing up to 70 percent of family income in the poorest countries, rising prices are squeezing household budgets and threatening to worsen malnutrition....Compounding the problem in many countries: prices hardly fell from their peaks in 2008, when global food prices jumped in part due to a smaller U.S. wheat harvest and demand for crops to use in biofuels."
    • "Costs also have been pushed up by a rebound in global commodity prices, especially for soy destined for Asian consumption. That has prompted a shift in Argentina and elsewhere to produce more for export, which has led to local shortages of beef and other food."[12]
  • Small-scale biofuels production holds more promise, says USAID, 21 June 2009 by BusinessMirror: "Decentralized biofuel production, or small-scale factories built on degraded or underused lands, has the potential to provide energy to half a billion people living in poverty in rural Asia."
    • " The report, Biofuels in Asia: An Analysis of Sustainability Options, focused on China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. It analyzed key trends and concerns and highlighted sustainability options for biofuel production."
    • "Compared with large-scale biofuels production, small-scale biofuels production for local use may deliver greater social benefits, including improvement of rural livelihoods, support of local industries, and a lower tendency toward exploitation of workers and co-opting of land from indigenous peoples."
  • (Aviation) Commercial use of biofuels may take time, 25 April 2009 by TradingMarkets.com: "Despite broad optimism in the aviation industry about the commercial use of biofuels, experts in Asia believe this won't happen very soon."
    • "On April 1, at the conclusion of an industry summit in Geneva, about 400 aviation and environment leaders set an industry timeline for aviation biofuels....By the end of the year, a set of environmental sustainability standards for aviation biofuels should be in place, they said in a summit declaration."
    • "In his speech during the summit, Giovanni Bisignani, director general and CEO of International Air Transport Association (IATA), noted that governments could provide tax and regulatory incentives and prioritize commercial production along with research investments....He also reiterated IATA's target for certification of sustainable biofuels by 2010 or 2011."
    • "In a separate interview, biofuels specialist Florello Galindo, director of Manila-based Asian Institute of Petroleum Studies Inc. (AIPSI), said China and Japan, being the region's main players in aviation manufacturing, would likely determine the fate of aviation biofuel use in Asia."[13]
  • Deadly "brown cloud" over South Asia caused by wood and dung burning, 23 January 2009 by Mongabay.com: "Long a subject of debate, the cause of the infamous brown cloud that hovers over the Indian Ocean and South Asia every winter has finally been discovered. Researchers led by Dr Orjan Gustafsson from the University of Stockholm in Sweden announced in Science that 70 percent of the cloud is made up of soot from the burning of biomasses, largely wood and animal dung used for cooking."
    • "Researchers hope the discovery of the cloud's source will push policy makers to rapidly aid the region's poor in switching to cleaner methods of cooking, such as solar."
    • "As well as being linked to global warming, the brown cloud is believed to lengthen droughts, exacerbate monsoons, and further melt the Himalayan glaciers, which currently provide fresh water to billions of people. Already, over three hundred thousand people die in Asia due to illnesses linked to brown cloud pollutants annually."[14]

Events

2009

Resources

See books, reports, scientific papers, position papers and websites for additional useful resources.

  • Greenhouse gas fluxes from tropical peatlands in south-east Asia (PDF) by John Couwenberg, Rene Dommain, and Hans Joosten HANS, June 2010. "This paper provides a review and meta-analysis of available literature on greenhouse gas fluxes from tropical peat soils in south-east Asia. As in other parts of the world, water level is the main control on greenhouse gas fluxes from south-east Asian peat soils. Based on subsidence data we calculate emissions of at least 900 g CO2 m−2 a−1 (∼250 g C m−2 a−1) for each 10 cm of additional drainage depth."[15]



Asia edit
China | India | Indonesia | Japan | Korea (Republic of) | Malaysia | Myanmar/Burma | The Philippines | Singapore | Thailand | Vietnam

Institutions: Asian Development Bank

Regions edit
Africa | Asia | Europe | Latin America and the Caribbean | Middle East | North America | Oceania & Pacific
See also: International cooperation | International organizations


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