- 6 December 2010, Cancun, Mexico: Biofuel expansion in the forest frontier: Trends, impacts and implications for governance. (Themes: carbon accounting, climate change, forests, land-use change)
- 6-7 December 2010, Miami, Florida, USA: Biogas to Energy Fundamentals: Ag, Food Processing, and Landfill Waste. (Themes: agriculture, biogas, waste)
- 8-9 December 2010, Washington, D.C., USA: ACORE Phase II of Renewable Energy in America National Policy Forum. (Themes: environment, policies, renewable energy, sustainability)
- 8-10 December 2010, Sydney, Australia: Bioenergy Australia 2010 - Biomass for a Clean Energy Future. (Themes: advanced biofuels, algae, biochar, biomass, co-firing, waste)
- 11-14 December 2010, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA: Pacific Rim Summit on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy. (Themes: algae, bio-based products, bioenergy, biotechnology, second-generation biofuels)
- Tide turns against corn ethanol, 20 December 2010 by Jeff Tollefson: "Buffeted by the economic crisis and a drop in the oil price, US producers of corn ethanol are encountering increasing scepticism from the legislators on Capitol Hill even as producers of the 'greener' cellulose-derived ethanol struggle to move beyond basic research and development."
- "The tax package brokered by US President Barack Obama... included a host of incentives for energy development. Among them was a one-year extension of a tax credit giving refiners nearly 12 cents of federal cash for every litre of corn ethanol they blend into gasoline. A tariff of more than 14 cents per litre on imported ethanol was also extended through 2011."
- "These are shorter times than industry wanted, marking a victory for environmentalists and budget hawks who see the roughly US$6-billion-a-year benefit as wasteful spending on a mature industry. Critics say the corn ethanol credit eats up scarce federal resources and puts cellulosic ethanol at a competitive disadvantage."
- "The mandated levels of biofuel production in the United States will increase to 53 billion litres in 2011 — about 8% of the country's total fuel consumption — and will ramp up to more than 136 billion litres by 2022. Around 90% of the biofuel will come from conventional corn ethanol next year, with the remainder coming from biodiesel and other "advanced biofuels". Last month, however, the US Environmental Protection Agency pulled back the 2011 requirement for cellulosic biofuels from 946 million to 25 million litres, citing delays in scaling up production."
- Navy Drives Biofuel Production With Goal to Buy 336M Gallons a Year by 2020, Enhancing San Diego’s Role as Center for Algae Biofuels, 20 December 2010 by Bruce V. Bigelow: "The U.S. military’s interest in developing algae biofuels dates back at least three years, when the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) began to assess the technical capabilities needed to produce JP-8 grade jet fuel."
- "Editor Jim Lane says the Department of Defense could prove to be the ultimate driver of advanced algae-based biofuels in the United States, 'by stepping up as a buyer, and communicating buying signals to the makers of advanced biofuels and their financiers.'"
- "That view was seconded in a weekend column by none other than Thomas L. Friedman of The New York Times, who wrote that Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus... has also set a goal for the Navy to use alternative energy sources to provide 50 percent of the energy for all its war-fighting ships, planes, vehicles and shore installations by 2020."
- "To meet this goal in 2020, the Navy will need 336 million gallons of drop-in advanced biofuels every year."
- Germany relaxes rule on biofuel sustainability, 15 December 2010 by Michael Hogan: "Germany has temporarily relaxed rules requiring raw materials for biofuels come from sustainable output, a move which industry bodies said on Wednesday will smooth imports of rapeseed and rapeseed oil for biodiesel use."
- "The directive aims to protect tropical rain forests being cut down for biofuel crop production. But German industry associations had feared the failure of other EU states to implement the rule on time would mean Germany would not have been able to import non-certified rapeseed and rapeseed oil from other EU states in 2011."
- "Germany imports about two million tonnes of rapeseed annually for food and biodiesel production."
- "'The change is limited to June 2011 so we now hope that other EU states will also introduce the EU directive otherwise we will be faced with the problem again,' the UFOP spokesman said."
- New Tool: Carbon Management Online Tool for Agriculture and AgroForestry Version:2.0 by USDA, Colorado State University and Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory. "COMET-VR 2.0 is a user-friendly, web-based tool that provides estimates of carbon sequestration and net greenhouse gas emissions from soils and biomass for US farms and ranches."
- While Tax Package Richly Rewards Corn Ethanol, Senate Appropriators Propose Pulling Rug Out from Under Next Generation Bioenergy, 15 December 2010 by the National Wildlife Federation: "While the Senate approved a tax package today that includes a $5-billion subsidy for corn ethanol, five lines buried within the almost 2000-page Senate Omnibus appropriations bill unveiled yesterday sound a death knell for next generation bioenergy crops at a critical time for the industry. The omnibus bill proposes to zero out funding for a key program to support development of the next generation of biofuels and bioenergy based on grasses and trees."
- "The Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), enacted as part of the 2008 Farm Bill, has been eagerly awaited by the next generation bioenergy industry as a critical link in making biomass based energy a reality by helping with the “chicken and the egg” problem of ensuring an adequate supply of tree and grass crops to fuel biomass energy facilities. The program would provide annual payments for five years to offset the risk to the landowner of trying these new crops, as well as assistance with the cost of establishing the new crops."
- "While Senate appropriators claim that it was their intent to deeply cut, rather than to eliminate the BCAP, the language included in the bill would eliminate all funding for the program in Fiscal Year 2011."
- The ethics of biofuels: Paper asks hard questions about biofuel production, 14 December 2010 by University of Calgary: "In the world-wide race to develop energy sources that are seen as "green" because they are renewable and less greenhouse gas-intensive, sometimes the most basic questions remain unanswered."
- "In a paper released today by the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary, authors Michal Moore, Senior Fellow, and Sarah M. Jordaan at Harvard University in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, look at the basic question of whether these energy sources are ethical."
- The main questions addressed are: "1. What is the effect of biofuel production on food costs, especially for poor populations? 2. Should more land be used for biofuel when the return of energy per acre is low? Are there better uses for that land? 3. In addition to worrying about the impact of global warming, should we not consider the impact on land of massively expanding biofuel production? 4. What are the other economic impacts of large scale production of biofuel?"
- Read the full report Ethical risks of environmental policies: the case of ethanol in North America (PDF)
- New Wikileaks show biofuel food impacts were underestimated, 14 December 2010 by Kenneth Richter of Friends of the Earth UK: "I found out today that biofuels and GM crops now have their very own Wikileak."
- "The secret cables reveal some yet more evidence about US attempts to push GM crops onto Africa. The cables also contain notes from an international meeting called by Gordon Brown on biofuels and the food crises in 2008."
- "In that meeting Joachim Von Braun, Director General of the [International] Food Policy Institute Research (IFPRI) suggested a moratorium on maize for biofuels. Their modelling showed it would immediately slash maize prices by 20 per cent and wheat prices by 10 per cent, with further reductions because it would discourage speculation."
- "But this idea was dismissed by other participants. Cargill's Ruth Rawling predicted that wheat prices would come down quite quickly without the moratorium. The Overseas Development Institute estimated that prices would fall back from their 2008 peak to roughly what they had been in the early 1990s."
- "How wrong they were."
- "Wheat has now risen in price by nearly two-thirds in the past six months. Pier Luigi Sigismondi, Unilever's chief supply chain officer acknowledges: 'The world is losing arable land at a rate of about 40,000 square miles a year. That is land being used for biofuel production, while climate change is eroding away topsoil.'"
- "As a result the FAO now predicts another major global food crisis for 2011."
- Review Highlights Knowledge Gaps Surrounding Biofuels and Land Use Change, 9 December 2010 by PRNewswire: "The development of biofuels has increased exponentially over the past decade, and will continue to do so as many countries seek to move away from dependence on fossil fuels. However, increasing use of biofuels raises serious questions about changing land use – and policymakers have found it hard to keep pace with the issues involved."
- "A new paper, Biofuels and Land Use Change: A Science and Policy Review, prepared by science and agriculture organization CABI and Hart Energy Consulting, reviews key research that has been conducted on the subject and analyses where the gaps in knowledge lie."
- "'The switch away from fossil fuels to renewable alternatives will have unforeseen consequences, especially for highly populated resource-poor countries,' said Janny Vos, Business Development Manager of CABI. 'At present the role of biofuels in this process is unclear. We hope that this review goes some way towards identifying the questions that need to be asked about land use change, and the areas in which we need further research.'"
- Read the full report Biofuels and Land Use Change: A Science and Policy Review (PDF)
- Deforestation 'not so important for climate change' , 8 December 2010 by New Scientist: "Climate negotiations were dealt a bombshell at the weekend when ecologists reported that carbon emissions from the destruction of tropical forests are probably only half previous estimates."
- "[T]he findings seriously question the only success so far of the UN negotiations on curbing climate change under way in Cancún, Mexico. If cutting down trees emits far less CO2 than we thought, where's the incentive to stop chopping?"
- "Four years ago, the UN's Intergovernmental panel on Climate Change estimated that deforestation was responsible for up to 20 per cent of CO2 emissions. A more recent study...revised that down to 15 per cent for the period 2000 to 2005."
- "But now ecologists at Winrock International, a respected US consultancy based in Arlington, Virginia, whose work was funded by the World Bank and the Norwegian government, says a more detailed analysis puts the figure for 2000 to 2005 at around 8 per cent, with a possible range between 5 and 12 per cent."
- "The analysis, which has yet to be formally published, used...a laser-radar satellite measurement technique known as lidar and 4000 carbon inventories from forest plots on the ground."
- Left-Right Coalition Responds to Senate Vote on Ethanol Tax Credit, 6 December 2010 by BeforeItsNews: "On Saturday (December 4, 2010), the Senate defeated a package of tax policy extensions, including a year extension of the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC) at $.36 per gallon, a 20 percent reduction from current levels. In response, a diverse coalition of organizations issued a joint press release applauding the vote on the VEETC and explaining why the tax credit should not be renewed."
- "Here’s what the participants said:
- "'A reduction in the corn ethanol tax credit is a small step in the right direction for animal agriculture and America's taxpayers. Burning a substantial portion of our food and feed as fuel is not a sustainable answer, in the long term, to solving this nation’s fuel needs....' - J. Patrick Boyle, President and CEO, American Meat Institute"
- "'The blender’s credit and import tariff on foreign ethanol have distorted the corn market, creating needless volatility in the cost of animal feed....' - Joel Brandenberger, president of the National Turkey Federation"
- ICRAF Releases Paper on Biodiesel in the Amazon, 1 December 2010 by IISD: "The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) has released a working paper titled "Biodiesel in the Amazon," which addresses the approaches taken by Brazilian Federal and state governments to consider the social and environmental sustainability of soybean and palm oil production in the Amazon."
- Download the ICRAF study, Biodiesel in the Amazon (PDF file)
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