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    Spanish company Ferry Group is to invest €42/US$55.2 million in a project for the production of biomass fuel pellets in Bulgaria. The 3-year project consists of establishing plantations of paulownia trees near the city of Tran. Paulownia is a fast-growing tree used for the commercial production of fuel pellets. Dnevnik - Feb. 20, 2007.

    Hungary's BHD Hõerõmû Zrt. is to build a 35 billion Forint (€138/US$182 million) commercial biomass-fired power plant with a maximum output of 49.9 MW in Szerencs (northeast Hungary). Portfolio.hu - Feb. 20, 2007.

    Tonight at 9pm, BBC Two will be showing a program on geo-engineering techniques to 'save' the planet from global warming. Five of the world's top scientists propose five radical scientific inventions which could stop climate change dead in its tracks. The ideas include: a giant sunshade in space to filter out the sun's rays and help cool us down; forests of artificial trees that would breath in carbon dioxide and stop the green house effect and a fleet futuristic yachts that will shoot salt water into the clouds thickening them and cooling the planet. BBC News - Feb. 19, 2007.

    Archer Daniels Midland, the largest U.S. ethanol producer, is planning to open a biodiesel plant in Indonesia with Wilmar International Ltd. this year and a wholly owned biodiesel plant in Brazil before July, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. The Brazil plant is expected to be the nation's largest, the paper said. Worldwide, the company projects a fourfold rise in biodiesel production over the next five years. ADM was not immediately available to comment. Reuters - Feb. 16, 2007.

    Finnish engineering firm Pöyry Oyj has been awarded contracts by San Carlos Bioenergy Inc. to provide services for the first bioethanol plant in the Philippines. The aggregate contract value is EUR 10 million. The plant is to be build in the Province of San Carlos on the north-eastern tip of Negros Island. The plant is expected to deliver 120,000 liters/day of bioethanol and 4 MW of excess power to the grid. Kauppalehti Online - Feb. 15, 2007.

    In order to reduce fuel costs, a Mukono-based flower farm which exports to Europe, is building its own biodiesel plant, based on using Jatropha curcas seeds. It estimates the fuel will cut production costs by up to 20%. New Vision (Kampala, Uganda) - Feb. 12, 2007.

    The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has decided to use 10% biodiesel in its fleet of public buses. The world's largest city is served by the Toei Bus System, which is used by some 570,000 people daily. Digital World Tokyo - Feb. 12, 2007.

    Fearing lack of electricity supply in South Africa and a price tag on CO2, WSP Group SA is investing in a biomass power plant that will replace coal in the Letaba Citrus juicing plant which is located in Tzaneen. Mining Weekly - Feb. 8, 2007.

    In what it calls an important addition to its global R&D capabilities, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) is to build a new bioenergy research center in Hamburg, Germany. World Grain - Feb. 5, 2007.

    EthaBlog's Henrique Oliveira interviews leading Brazilian biofuels consultant Marcelo Coelho who offers insights into the (foreign) investment dynamics in the sector, the history of Brazilian ethanol and the relationship between oil price trends and biofuels. EthaBlog - Feb. 2, 2007.

    The government of Taiwan has announced its renewable energy target: 12% of all energy should come from renewables by 2020. The plan is expected to revitalise Taiwan's agricultural sector and to boost its nascent biomass industry. China Post - Feb. 2, 2007.

    Production at Cantarell, the world's second biggest oil field, declined by 500,000 barrels or 25% last year. This virtual collapse is unfolding much faster than projections from Mexico's state-run oil giant Petroleos Mexicanos. Wall Street Journal - Jan. 30, 2007.

    Dubai-based and AIM listed Teejori Ltd. has entered into an agreement to invest €6 million to acquire a 16.7% interest in Bekon, which developed two proprietary technologies enabling dry-fermentation of biomass. Both technologies allow it to design, establish and operate biogas plants in a highly efficient way. Dry-Fermentation offers significant advantages to the existing widely used wet fermentation process of converting biomass to biogas. Ame Info - Jan. 22, 2007.

    Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited is to build a biofuel production plant in the tribal belt of Banswara, Rajasthan, India. The petroleum company has acquired 20,000 hectares of low value land in the district, which it plans to commit to growing jatropha and other biofuel crops. The company's chairman said HPCL was also looking for similar wasteland in the state of Chhattisgarh. Zee News - Jan. 15, 2007.

    The Zimbabwean national police begins planting jatropha for a pilot project that must result in a daily production of 1000 liters of biodiesel. The Herald (Harare), Via AllAfrica - Jan. 12, 2007.

    In order to meet its Kyoto obligations and to cut dependence on oil, Japan has started importing biofuels from Brazil and elsewhere. And even though the country has limited local bioenergy potential, its Agriculture Ministry will begin a search for natural resources, including farm products and their residues, that can be used to make biofuels in Japan. To this end, studies will be conducted at 900 locations nationwide over a three-year period. The Japan Times - Jan. 12, 2007.

    Chrysler's chief economist Van Jolissaint has launched an arrogant attack on "quasi-hysterical Europeans" and their attitudes to global warming, calling the Stern Review 'dubious'. The remarks illustrate the yawning gap between opinions on climate change among Europeans and Americans, but they also strengthen the view that announcements by US car makers and legislators about the development of green vehicles are nothing more than window dressing. Today, the EU announced its comprehensive energy policy for the 21st century, with climate change at the center of it. BBC News - Jan. 10, 2007.

    The new Canadian government is investing $840,000 into BioMatera Inc. a biotech company that develops industrial biopolymers (such as PHA) that have wide-scale applications in the plastics, farmaceutical and cosmetics industries. Plant-based biopolymers such as PHA are biodegradable and renewable. Government of Canada - Jan. 9, 2007.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

As world's view of Washington worsens, corporate America pushes White House to tackle climate change

A Globescan/BBC/PIPA global opinion poll [*.pdf] shows that the world's view of American leadership is going from bad to worse. Some 60 to 80% of the 26,000 people questioned in 25 countries now disapprove of the way Washington deals with major international issues. Obvious geopolitical failures (Iraq, the Israelo-Palestinian conflict and the crisis in Lebanon, nuclear proliferation) are the main cause. The Globescan survey also included a series of questions on climate change, the most pressing and serious of global challenges. And once again, the participants think the U.S. is out of sync with reality and should do much more to combat global warming. After all, the U.S. is the world's largest polluter and responsible for the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions.

Surprisingly, on the latter issue, major forces within the U.S. now seem to agree with world opinion. On the eve of President George W. Bush's State of the Union address, a new alliance of NGOs and major US corporations has launched an appeal for mandatory action to reduce greenhouse gases.

The corporations (including DuPont, BP, GE, Alcoa and others) and four environmental groups (Environmental Defense, Natural Resources Defense Council, Pew Center on Global Climate Change and the World Resources Institute) presented the new US Climate Change Action Partnership (USCAP) on 22 January 2007. In its report, "A call for action" [*.pdf] the USCAP urges the federal US government to come up with strong legislation to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. The alliance proposes to set mandatory caps on emissions with the aim of reducing them by 30% over the next 15 years.

President Bush is not expected to give in to this new climate-change lobbying when he gives his annual State of the Union speech on 23 January. According to US media, he will put energy security once more at the heart of his policies and embrace ethanol as the miracle solution to fight America's energy dependency.

Since the president rejected the Kyoto Protocol in 2001, the US has come to be seen by many Europeans as the leader of the "axis of climate-change evil". With the US on the sidelines, the European Union has claimed world leadership in efforts to combat global warming and turned its greenhouse-gas emissions trading scheme - despite all its weaknesses - into a model solution:
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But, under pressure from European industry's fears of loss of competitiveness, the EU is struggling with its leadership role. Although the Commission promised unilateral emission reductions of 20% by 2020 in its recent energy-climate change package, it has difficulties finding a compromise between its climate change strategy and its economic growth and competitiveness (Lisbon Agenda) objectives, once more precise policies are on the table, as suggested by the Commission's internal fighting over CO2 emissions from passenger cars. A proposal to replace the current voluntary agreement with car producers and introduce binding legislative targets was postponed on 23 January 2007 due to heavy lobbying from industry and the Commission's Enterprise directorate.

In the meantime, US energy ideology is undergoing a climate-change shift, with only the federal government still hesitant to make a similar U-turn. In California, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has become the champion of climate-change activists, introducing measures for a 25% reduction of emissions by 2020 and a low-carbon standard for automotive fuels.

The new Democrats majority in the US Congress has also put climate change high on its agenda. In its first 100 hours, House speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the establishment of a new select committee on climate change and introduced legislation on energy security. In the US Senate, Republican senator and possible 2008 presidential candidate John McCain is inviting a group of more than 80 global legislators to Washington to discuss climate change.

The new USCAP coalition is a clear signal that big business in the US has woken up to the climate-change issue and could have a major influence on the next presidential election campaign.

More information:

European Commission, Directorate-General of the Environment: Climate Change

United States Climate Action Partnership (USCAP): Press release "Major businesses and environmental leaders unite to call for swift action on global climate change" - Jan. 22, 2007

United States Climate Action Partnership (USCAP): USCAP web site

L'Expansion: Climat : des multinationales font pression sur Bush, Jan. 22, 2007

BBC News: Bush 'must fight climate change' - Jan. 22, 2007

Bloomberg: Bush rejects carbon cap; will stress alternative fuel, Jan. 22, 2007

On the Globescan poll:
BBC News: View of US's global role 'worse' - Jan. 23, 2007

Globescan: World View of US Role Goes From Bad to Worse - Jan 23, 2007.


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