Thursday, November 29, 2007

Friends of the Earth: Governments should say no to biofuels

Global Research (Canada): Biofuels must not be promoted as a solution to climate change, Friends of the Earth International said today, just a few days before key United Nations climate change talks start in Bali, Indonesia. The environmental group, speaking ahead of the 3-14 December Bali talks, warned that an increase in the use of biofuels - also widely known as agrofuels - would have disastrous social and environmental impacts.

Agrofuels such as palm oil are set to be promoted as a major solution to climate change at the UN climate talks. The demand for agrofuels mainly to fuel cars -mainly in over-consuming industrialised countries- is skyrocketing. Yet recent studies from around the world highlight that the agrofuels boom is having severe social and environmental impacts. Forests are being cut down and Indigenous Peoples and forest dwelling communities are being displaced, often violently, from their territories to make way for agrofuels plantations run by multinational corporations that expropriate land and water resources.

Large areas of forest lands traditionally used by Indigenous Peoples have already been expropriated for monoculture plantations, for example for palm oil in Indonesia where it is estimated that 100 million people, of which 40 million are indigenous peoples, depend mainly on forests and natural resource goods and services. Paradoxically, while agrofuels are being promoted as a solution to climate change, the draining of peat lands and cutting down of tropical forests for their cultivation is releasing huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, far more than would be saved by resorting to agrofuels.

…Farah Sofa, deputy director of WALHI/ Friends of the Earth Indonesia said: “Ninety percent of palm oil – which is used in thousands of everyday products, from margarine and bread to lipstick and soap – comes from Indonesia and Malaysia. The palm oil industry has accelerated deforestation, driving Indigenous Peoples off their land. The demand for palm oil for agrofuel use could sound the death knell for our forests. What we need is a reduction of palm oil consumption, an end to its export, and forest conservation that respects Indigenous Peoples’ land rights.”

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