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Governments must reject Biofuels False Solutions

PRESS RELEASE EMBARGO UNTIL 12:00 AM GMT, 17 NOVEMBER 2007

Governments must reject ‘Biofuels’ and other False Solutions to Climate Change

In reaction to today’s launch of the synthesis report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in Spain, the Global Forest Coalition, a worldwide coalition of NGOs and Indigenous Peoples’ Organisations, called upon governments to reject so-called ‘biofuels’ and other false solutions to climate change like carbon trading. It is now becoming cῬear that these solutions may in fact make climate change worse, not better, and that they have many other serious social and environmental impacts. (1)

The IPCC report again highlights that climate change is already having devastating impacts upon the economies and livelihoods of people all over the world. Indigenous Peoples and other vulnerable and economically marginalized peoples suffer the most dramatic consequences of climate change, as they are directly dependent upon the forests, drylands and polar ecosystems that are being destroyed by droughts, forest fires and other effects of global warming. However, these communities are also the main victims of the false solutions that some governments and high profile advocates are proposing, like large-scale ˜biofuels™, (or ˜agrofuels™ as most social movements refer to them) and carbon investments in forestry projects.

Dr. Miguel Lovera, chairperson of the Global Forest Coalition, said:

“Here in Paraguay the soya boom that has been triggered by agrofuels means that farmers are now racing to clear the forests and plant soy. What is the point of planting a crop that is supposed to help stop climate change, when it involves ripping out the lungs of the world and destroying the homes and livelihoods of our forest peo῰les, including our last communities of Indigenous Peoples living in voluntary isolation? The IPCC recognizes that conserving forests is one of the most effective and economically efficient ways of mitigating climate change but governments don™t seem to be listening: instead of banning deforestation, they are actually subsidizing ῴhe production of these agrofuels crops which are making deforestation worse all over the world.  (2)

In Mato Grosso in the Brazilian Amazon, renewed soy expansion caused deforestation to increase by around 84% between September 2006 and September 2007. Soy expansion in South America is mainly caused by the ethanol boom in the US, which has triggered US soy farmers to switch to corn.

“As the main problems are caused by the indirect impacts of agrofuels, proposals to certify ‘sustainable biofuels’ just won’t work, as they can’t control these indirect impacts” emphasizes Dr. Rachel Smolker of the Global Justice Ecology Project in Vermont (US).

“Second generation agrofuels, like genetically modified trees, will also cause a myriad of environmental and social problems, including the replacement of forests with vast monocultures of tree plantations, planted to fuel cars” she adds.

The Global Forest Coalition also opposes proposals to finance reduced deforestation through the international carbon market, as such offsets do not contribute anything to mitigating climate change: every ton carbon stored in forests will imply an extra ton of carbon emissions in the North. Moreover, they form an inequitable and unpredictable source of financial support. Carbon offset projects in countries like Uganda have already led to devastating impacts on local communities. (3)

“Many Indigenous Peoples in the Pacific face the possibility of losing everything in a short space of time – their homes, their territories and their livelihoods -, because of rising sea-levels. We insist that governments do something now to stop this ethnocide. They urgently need to invest in real forest conservation (4), sustainῡble transport systems and solar and wind energy stresses Sandy Gauntlett, chairperson of the Pacific Indiῧenous Peoples Environment Coalition.

ends

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