<body> -------------------
Contact Us       Consulting       Projects       Our Goals       About Us
home » Archive » Bioenergy_economics
Nature Blog Network

    Ethablog's Henrique Oliveira publishes an exclusive interview with leading Brazilian biofuels consultant Marcelo Coelho about energy efficiency, Brazil's competitive advantages, biofuel investments, geopolitics and more. EthaBlog - Nov. 9, 2006.

    First ever conference looks at the potential of biofuels in Africa. The Biofuels Markets Africa event will be held in Cape Town, South Africa, from november 30 to december 1, 2006. Guest speakers from African business, government and non-governmental organisations shed a light on the challenges of creating a biofuels industry on the continent. Speakers from Brazil, India and Europe present their experiences in the sector as well. Check it out at: GreenPowerConferences.

    Voting is under way in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in one of Africa's most significant elections for many decades. Congo is potentially the world's second biggest 'biofuels superpower', with enormous untapped land resources, a favorable tropical climate and millions of farmers ready to start producing for the international market. After 3 decades of misrule and a decade of civil war, the country is gradually rebuilding itself. BBC News - October 29, 2006.

    Novozymes AS and US partner Broin are to collaborate in the development of ethanol from cellulosic biomass. Forbes - October 26, 2006.

    Alcar Chemicals Group Inc. announces patent filing for bioconversion process that turns agricultural waste and non-food biomass into raw materials for bioplastics to be used in the production of petroleum-free polyethylene, PET, polyester and polyurethane resins and more. Market Periscope - October 25, 2006.

    Government of Malawi announces increased cooperation with India and Brazil to develop biofuel industry in search for oil independence. Daily Times Malawi - October 25, 2006.

    The government of India plans a series of tax sops like excise and import duty exemptions to promote the use of bio-diesel and ethanol in auto fuel. Andhra Cafe - October 24, 2006.

    A Brazilian company that powers a quarter of all buses in Latin America's largest city, São Paulo, has started using biofuels in its fleet counting 1900 vehicles. The fuel is a blend of 30 percent biodiesel, 8 percent alcohol and 62 percent petroleum diesel Planet Save - October 22, 2006.

    According to Research and Markets, the biofuels industry in the US is growing at a rate of 25 to 50% a year. New entrants enter the field constantly and new technology breakthroughs are frequent. Federal and state government subsidies and loan guanrantees keep barriers to entry relatively low. Business Wire - October 20, 2006.

    Four in five U.S. adults (80%) strongly or somewhat agree that national and state governments are not doing enough to promote production of biofuels -- fuels made from agricultural crops or plant matter -- according to a new survey released today by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive®, also found that 82% of adults say national and state governments should provide financial incentives to biofuels producers to encourage the production and availability of biofuels. More than two out of three adults (69%) would use American-made biofuels even if these fuels cost slightly more than conventional gas. And more than eight of every 10 (84%) say they would be at least somewhat likely to support federal and state political candidates who favor providing incentives to promote increased production and availability of biofuels throughout the United States. Azom - October 19, 2006.

    Italian company Novamont is building what it calls 'the world's first biorefinery' in Terni. It will use local biomass resources from 600 farmers to make 60,000 tons of 100% biodegradable plastics, as well as biofuels in one and the same facility. Agenzia Giornalistica Italia - October 18, 2006.

    The world's biggest instant noodle maker, Indofood, says that its edible oils division plans to buy majority stakes in three palm oil plantations giving it sufficient raw material to enter the emerging biofuels sector. AP-Foodtechnology - October 17, 2006.

Creative Commons License

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Boreal forest 'ecoservices' worth an estimated $250 billion/year

Carbon capture, water filtration, and other boreal forest ecoservices are worth an estimated US$250 billion per year according to an environmental economist. As the 'science' of ecosystem accounting gathers pace, it becomes ever more clear that forests protect the planet's life forms from extinction; as such, they could be looked at as an insurance policy on which a monetary value can be placed. It is time therefor to create a comprehensive accounting system for "natural capital" to recognize the full value of ecosystem services provided by boreal forests, Mark Anielski will urge delegates to Canada's 10th National Forest Congress (Sept. 25-27).

Let us first note that here at the Biopact we are uncomfortable with the approach of describing nature's 'ecoservices' from within a purely utilitarian, capitalist accounting discourse. As Douglas McCauley recently argued in Nature, there is scant evidence that market-based conservation works and, so he thinks, the time is ripe for a return to the tradition of the protection of nature for nature's sake (which dates back to the European romantics of the early 19th century).
We agree with McCauley: inducing deep ecology and a culture of wonder with which to relate to nature may be equally powerful strategies to protect our environment, even though many will sense that the urgency behind issues such as climate change or deforestation does not warrant such a 'soft' vision. (Obviously our own approach to bioenergy is very utilitarian, but with the underlying thought of using the opportunity as a lever to help bring social change and justice to the the poor in the South.) But for now, let us go along with the approach of environmental bookkeeping, for it is an exercise that will impact the future of the global bioenergy sector. Calculating the value of forest ecoservices determines, for example, how economically interesting it might be for developing nations to opt for a system of 'compensated reduction' instead of actually producing biofuels and exporting them.

Anielski does the calculus for boreal forests, but the same accounting process can of course be undertaken for subtropical woodlands and tropical rainforests, even though their description as 'carbon sinks' is becoming problematic.

Anielski argues that the boreal forests' huge value as sinks and reservoirs of atmospheric carbon is unaccounted for today but needs to be recognized in future. With his research colleagues he estimates that environmental services from the boreal forests from climate regulation via carbon capture and storage, water filtration and waste treatment, to biodiversity maintenance, pest control by birds, and so on, are worth about US$160 per hectare, or US$93 billion per year in Canada.

Globally, the estimates produce a rough value of ecosystem services rendered by boreal forests (almost 10 million northern square km spanning Canada, Russia, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Alaska) of US$250 billion per year, a huge figure unrecognized in national income accounts or measures such as Gross Domestic Product:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

"If these ecosystem services were counted in Canada, they would amount to roughly 9% of GDP. Ignoring these values would be like leaving out the combined annual contribution to GDP made by Canada's health and social services sector and half of the public services sector."

"Resource extraction and development in the boreal are vital to human well-being, of course. The point of our research is that services provided by the boreal ecosystem make a quantifiable contribution to well-being as well � values that are important to reflect in national and regional economic balance sheets and measures like Gross Domestic Product."

Among his recommendations: all levels of government, together with industry and local communities, should develop a natural capital accounting system to reveal the total value of ecosystems and to guide land-use planning, resource management and economic development policies. It would include, among other things, a comprehensive inventory of the boreal's natural capital.

"The boreal is like a giant carbon bank account. The forests and peatlands store an estimated 67 billion tonnes of carbon in Canada alone � almost eight times the amount of carbon produced worldwide in year 2000. The Canadian boreal on average absorbs and sequesters each year an additional amount of carbon worth $1.8 billion (based on figures about the price of carbon emissions created by the global insurance industry).

"Among other questions to be addressed is whether and how that contribution to global well-being by Canada and other boreal countries should be recognized by other nations," Anielski says.

The goal of the Congress, which coincides with Canada's National Forest Week (Sept. 24-30), is to advance an integrated, multi-disciplinary stewardship of forest resource management � an approach that reflects a broad variety of stakeholder concerns and considerations. The theme is "Sustainable Land Management in the Boreal."

"Canada's boreal represents one-quarter of all forest in the world. Its survival depends on achieving long-term, sustainable and integrated land-use management policies and practices," says Congress Chair Barry Waito, Chairman and CEO of the Canadian Forestry Association.

"Canadians need to understand the challenges presented by highly compelling interests and values that sometimes compete, and the importance of balancing economic development, ecosystem sustainability, Aboriginal interests, and community and social values."

This year marks the centenary of the first National Forest Convention, convened by the Canadian Forestry Association in 1906 and presided over by Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who also served as Honourary President of the CFA. Valery P.Roschupkin, head of Russia's state forest service, and other international guests are among 200-300 expected attendees at the Congress, which will emphasize the boreal's national and international significance throughout a three-day series of presentations and panel discussions.

The Congress will facilitate discussions between industry leaders and analysts, government policy makers, Aboriginal leaders and other interested Canadians on cooperative and integrated boreal management.

Hon. Gary Lunn, Canada's Minister of Natural Resources, Arthur Carty, National Science Advisor to the Prime Minister, and Bob Bailey of the NWT, Chair of the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers, are the lunchtime keynote speakers at noon Mon., Tues. and Weds., Sept. 25-27 respectively.

Among the intended outcomes is a commitment from stakeholders � including the forestry, energy, mining, agriculture and tourism industries, Aboriginal people and communities � to create a cross-sectoral council to examine national and international goals for stewardship and sustainable land management. The proposed council would help realize a resolution to set objectives by consensus, agreed at the 1st National Forest Congress in 1906.

More information:
Douglas J. McCauley, Selling out on nature, Nature, 7 September 2006

The full Congress programme is online here [*.pdf].


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home