In the Brazilian state of Maranhão, communities, the livelihoods and land rights of traditional communities are under serious threat from large-scale eucalyptus plantations. Those plantations are being expanded for pulp and paper, for charcoal production for pig iron and potentially to make wood pellets for Europe. Maranhão’s Baixo Paranaiba region lies in the transition zone between the Amazon rainforest and the Cerrado savannah and supports high levels of biodiversity. Communities have long been living in harmony with this ecosystem through harvesting fruits, practicing small-scale farming and cattle raising. They are trying to defend their land from being bulldozed and turned into plantations. In some cases, communities have managed to stop land-grabs by standing in front of bulldozers. However, successful projects that allow communities to diversify agricultural production and increase their incomes in a truly sustainable way are just as vital if they are to protect their lands and the region’s rich ecosystem.
Please help the communities with a donation which will go towards community projects that receive support from a local organization (Carajás Forum), an organization that is also actively involved in the support of the land struggle of these communities against Suzano. All money collected by Biofuelwatch through this appeal will be sent to the Carajás Forum. The World Rainforest Movement will together with the Carajás Forum monitor the implementation of the projects. A detailed report about the situation in the Baixo Paranaibo region can be downloaded here. Continue reading Fundraising appeal: Please support communities in Maranhao defending their lands from eucalyptus plantations
See here and here for a response by the Treasury to a letter sent by Charlotte Leslie MP. Note that
+ The Treasury states that they do not consider sustainability in their assessment and due diligence under the Guarantee Scheme, i.e when deciding to which projects they’ll give public loan guarantees
+ The Treasury refers to biomass sustainability standards which apply to subsidies – but those don’t actually exist. They have been proposed by DECC since 2010 but have been delayed twice so far, currently to April 2015, but with no guarantee that any standards will be introduced then. The proposals have been condemned as wholly inadequate by NGOs.
Biochar’s Unproven Claims
A 3-page factsheet summing up the main findings of the 2011 Biofuelwatch report “Biochar: A Critical Report of Science and Policy” as well as recent scientific and policy developments, substantially updated 1st July 2013
On Wednesday 18 December at 2pm Biofuelwatch, Friends of the Earth, UK Without Incineration Network (UKWIN) and Campaign Against Climate Change delivered a joint letter calling on the Treasury to drop biomass electricity and waste incineration projects from their short list of ‘pre-qualified’ projects for preferential loan guarantee support under the UK Guarantee Scheme.
The press release is here
The joint letter is here
Click here to see a video made by Reel News of speeches by Duncan Law (Biofuelwatch), Kenneth Richter (Friends of the Earth), Neil Pitcairn (UK Without Incineration Network) and Helena Paul (Econexus)
Developing campaign against one of the short-listed biomass projects in Avonmouth here
At 2pm on Wednesday 18 December representatives and supporters of Biofuelwatch, FOE, UK Without Incineration Network and the Campaign Against Climate Change gathered outside the Treasury building in Whitehall to protest at the huge subsidies the UK government is offering to hugely damaging and dangerous so-called renewable energy technology. They delivered a joint letter addressed to Mr Geoffrey Spence, head of Infrastructure UK which is administering the UK Guarantee Scheme and George Osborne MP, chancellor of the exchequer, calling on the Treasury to drop the 3 big biomass electricity projects and the waste incineration programme on the ‘prequalified’ short list of projects to receive loan guarantee from public funds.
Clearcutting of coastal native hardwood forests in North Carolina – Drax is burning pellets from native forest logging in this region. Photo: Dogwood Alliance
[Update: On 19th December, DECC omitted Eggborough from the list of projects that would receive early guarantees of new subsidies, i.e. Contracts for Difference. They state that they will make a decision about Eggborough in 2014. MGT Power and Drax remain on the list.]
Campaigners have reacted angrily to Government announcements on Wednesday setting out increased support for new biomass power capacity through “strike prices”.  High levels of long-term subsidies have been guaranteed for the partial conversion of Drax and Eggborough Power stations to biomass (allowing both to avoid having to shut down), for the biomass conversion of the currently closed Lynemouth Power station and for a large new biomass plant proposed by MGT Power at Teesside Port. Coal to biomass conversion strike price is £105 p MWh. Dedicated biomass will get £125 p MWh guaranteed.
MGT Power’s plans have already been implicated in land-grabbing in Brazil for eucalyptus plantations,  whilst Drax has been shown to have burnt pellets sourced from the clear-cutting of ancient wetland forests in the southern US.  Overall, further support was announced for more than 4GW of biomass capacity, which will see operators burning almost 30 million tonnes of green wood a year and receiving approximately £ 1 billion in subsidies for this annually.  Drax has already been guaranteed around £198 million in subsidies for biomass conversion under an existing subsidy scheme. 30 million tonnes of wood is equivalent to three times the UK’s total annual wood production. Continue reading New support for biomass electricity will mean more forest destruction and land-grabbing, say campaigners