Poverty issues

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Information about biofuels/bioenergy and poverty.

Resources

News

  • Biofuels Policy May Kill 200,000 Per Year in the Third World, 28 March 2011 by PR Newswire: "U.S. and European policy to increase production of ethanol and other biofuels to displace fossil fuels is supposed to help human health by reducing 'global warming.' Instead it has added to the global burden of death and disease."
    • "Increased production of biofuels increases the price of food worldwide by diverting crops and cropland from feeding people to feeding motor vehicles. Higher food prices, in turn, condemn more people to chronic hunger and 'absolute poverty'".
    • "Research by the World Bank indicates that the increase in biofuels production over 2004 levels would push more than 35 million additional people into absolute poverty in 2010 in developing countries. Using statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Indur Goklany estimates that this would lead to at least 192,000 excess deaths per year, plus disease resulting in the loss of 6.7 million disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) per year. These exceed the estimated annual toll of 141,000 deaths and 5.4 million lost DALYs that the World Health Organization attributes to global warming....Goklany also notes that death and disease from poverty are a fact, whereas death and disease from global warming are hypothetical.
    • "His analysis is published in the spring 2011 issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons".[1]
    • Download the paper, Could Biofuel Policies Increase Death and Disease in Developing Countries? (PDF file).
  • 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?"[2]
  • 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.'"[3]
  • Biofuels: Is Palm Oil a Blessing or a Curse, 9 November 2010 by Robert Rapier: "Palm oil presents an excellent case illustrating both the promise and the peril of biofuels. Driven by demand from the U.S. and the European Union (EU) due to mandated biofuel requirements, palm oil has provided a valuable cash crop for farmers in tropical regions like Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand."
    • "The high productivity of palm oil has led to a dramatic expansion in many tropical countries around the equator. This has the potential for alleviating poverty in these regions."
    • "But in some locations, expansion of oil palm cultivation has resulted in serious environmental damage as rain forest has been cleared to make room for new palm oil plantations."
    • "Palm oil represents a difficult dilemma: How does the West address negative social or environmental implications from the development of a palm oil industry (or any industry) that is helping to lift rural people out of poverty by providing an income stream for farmers? Western objectives (saving the rain forests) may be viewed as conflicting with their basic needs (feeding their families and sending their kids to school) — which is of course why globally rain forest continues to disappear."[4]
  • 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."
    • "The debate centres on a new concept known as "indirect land-use change."
    • "In essence, that means that if you take a field of grain and switch the crop to biofuel, somebody, somewhere, will go hungry unless those missing tonnes of grain are grown elsewhere."
    • "The report was compiled by ActionAid, Birdlife International, ClientEarth, European Environment Bureau, FERN, Friends of the Earth Europe, Greenpeace, Transport & Environment, Wetlands International."[5]
  • Reality check for 'miracle' biofuel crop, 27 October 2010 by Miyuki Iiyama and James Onchieku: "It sounds too good to be true: a biofuel crop that grows on semi-arid lands and degraded soils, replaces fossil fuels in developing countries and brings huge injections of cash to poor smallholders."
    • "In an attempt to test the claims, Endelevu Energy, the World Agroforestry Centre and the Kenya Forestry Research Institute embarked on the Reality Check study supported by the German government, which we published last December."
    • "The main finding of the Reality Check is that jatropha is not economically viable when grown by smallholders in Kenya, either in a monoculture or intercrop plantation model. This is due to low yields and high production costs, and a lack of guidelines for applying agronomic and silvicultural best practices."[6]
  • UN incineration plans rejected by world's rubbish-dump workers, 5 August 2010 by The Guardian: "The waste-pickers who scour the world's rubbish dumps and daily recycle thousands of tonnes of metal, paper and plastics are up in arms against the UN, which they claim is forcing them out of work and increasing climate change emissions."
    • "Their complaint, heard yesterday in Bonn where UN global climate change talks have resumed, is that the clean development mechanism (CDM), an ambitious climate finance scheme designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries, has led to dozens of giant waste-to-energy incinerators being built to burn municipal rubbish, as well as hundreds of new landfill schemes designed to collect methane gas."
    • "'Waste-pickers, who are some of the poorest people on earth, recover recyclable materials. They are invisible entrepreneurs on the frontline of climate change, earning a living from recovery and recycling, reducing demand for natural resources,' says Neil Tangri, director of Gaia, an alliance of 500 anti-incinerator groups in 80 countries."
    • "But they are being undermined by CDM projects, which deny them entry to dumps. This is leading to further stress and hardship for some of the poorest people in the world and is increasing emissions,' he said."
    • "Yesterday Gaia called for the CDM to stop approving incinerator waste to energy projects and to start investing climate funds in the informal recycling sector. This, he said, would increase employment and labour conditions while dramatically reducing emissions."[8]
  • NGOs Say EU Fuelling Hunger By Grabbing Land For Biofuels , 29 June 2010 by Eurasia Review: "Western development and environmental groups warned Tuesday that EU biofuels targets are leading to uncontrollable land grabbing from poor communities in Africa, pushing more people into hunger."
    • "A day before EU member states submit their renewable energy plans to the EU, NGOs Action Aid and Friends of the Earth Europe called on European leaders to halt the expansion of biofuels."
    • "Adrian Bebb, from the Friends of the Earth Europe said, 'huge tracts of land are being snatched across the developing world for European biofuels.'"[9]
  • Of Biofuels, Land Grabs and Food Prices, 4 April 2010 by New York Times Green Inc. blog: "ActionAid, an antipoverty group, has stepped up a campaign against European Union policies aimed at encouraging consumers to use fuels grown from crops to power their cars."
    • "The group last week staged mock 'land grabs' in which members worked the soil and erected models of gasoline pumps in front of the Danish Parliament in Copenhagen."
    • "The 27 member countries of the E.U. have agreed to generate 10 percent of their fuel for transport from renewable sources by 2020. A large proportion of that target is expected to come from biofuels. ActionAid is seeking to highlight the potentially negative effects of biofuels to discourage governments from following through with that plan."[10]
  • Biofuels Take Center Stage in Copenhagen, 17 December 2009 by 25x'25 REsource Blog: Copenhagen climate summit events "highlighted the critically important role biofuels can play in addressing the multiple challenges that must be addressed in a rapidly changing world. Specifically, the events and discussions underscored how renewable, clean fuels sustainably created from current and next generation bioenergy feedstocks can reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), improve food security, stimulate economic development and reduce global poverty."[12]
  • CLIMATE CHANGE: Brazil Defends Biofuels, 9 December 2009 by IPS/TerraViva: "Being the world’s largest producer and exporter of ethanol it is natural for the Brazilian government and its partners to push biofuels as the only real alternative for a world trying wean itself away from fossil fuels that contribute to global warming."
    • "Brazilian authorities were ready with their arguments at the United Nations climate change summit"...."at pains to show that not only is biofuel production the best way to reduce greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions but can also combat poverty as exemplified by the country’s scheme to promote micro-distilleries to provide additional income for rural families."
    • "While admitting that "biofuels are no silver bullet," Brazilian authorities insist that biofuels are the best way forward for developing countries."[13]



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