Published 20th December 2010 - 0 comments - 1164 views -
Even the skeptic champion, Bjorn Lomborg, told me more than two years ago that we are “the first ever generation to to burn its own food”. This declaration was taken in the very context of the food crisis in 2008, a year in which a third of the world population was on the brink of famine. Also noteworthy is that meanwhile the financial crisis had already raged in the United States.
While the Danish skeptic was not preoccupied with emissions, tens of studies are bringing forth proofs that biofuels are pressurizing ecosystems. The indirect land use change is one of the most intricate emission generators currently on the UN table.
In Cancun, on the land-use change, and forestry (LULUCF) front, less progress has been made. Developed and developing countries remain divided over the so-called “logging loophole”, which has blocked negotiations for years and lets developing countries choose which activities they will and will not include in accounting for emissions.
Under the current proposals developed countries would be able to hide up to 5% of their 1990 emissions, a loophole as big as the aggregate Kyoto Protocol reduction target, announced Climate Action Network. Due to a few forestry-heavy Member States, the EU, at its turn, is internally split on this issue and therefore cannot push for environmentally sound accounting rules. There is great concern that in order to be able to finalize the negotiations on the Kyoto negotiating track, developing countries will allow rich countries to cheat their way out of accounting for real emissions.
Kenneth Richter posted a summary of secret cables on Friends of the Earth blog. Wikileaks 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 a meeting Joachim Von Braun, Director General of the Inter Food Policy Institute Research (IFPRI) suggested a moratorium on maize for biofuels. Their modeling 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.
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.”
FAO now predicts another major global food crisis for 2011. It is outrageous that the main effects of what was considered the panacea of emissions and energy consumption, biofuels, are currently sky high emission levels, destroyed ecosystems, and hunger.
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