[A-List] Fw: [LAsolidarity] Dutch report on Biomass Sustainability Criteria lacks vision from the South
Nicaragua Solidarity and Fair Trade Resource
nscchicago at igc.org
Fri Apr 27 16:26:11 MDT 2007
Dutch report on Biomass Sustainability Criteria lacks visiFrom: Orin Langelle
Subject: [LAsolidarity] Dutch report on Biomass Sustainability Criteria lacks vision from the South
27 April 2007, Paraguay / Argentina / Uruguay/ The Netherlands
International NGOs: Dutch report on Biomass Sustainability Criteria lacks vision from the South
Today, the final report of the Dutch initiative to develop criteria for Sustainable Biomass' is presented by its authors to the Dutch government. Because the EU plans to strongly promote the use of biofuels - now more often called 'agrofuels' - the (un)sustainability of the large scale production of agrofuel crops is at the centre of international attention.
The undersigned organisations express their disappointment that the committee responsible (the Cramer committee) has not consulted with civil society organisations in the South, where most biomass (for example for agrofuels), will be produced. The perspectives of smallholders, local communities and indigenous peoples, often suffering the consequences of monoculture expansion, have not been heard. As past experiences with developing certification schemes have shown, local stakeholder participation, especially in the criteria setting process, is crucial. Not only for its credibility, but also for a sound analysis of the social and environmental problems related to monoculture production.
Apart from that, the amounts of land used up by the monoculture plantations, and the economical interests linked to them, lead us to believe the implementation of any sustainability criteria to be very difficult. In the case of soy, a previous criteria- setting initiative - the Round Table on Responsible Soy - has been rejected by many civil society organisations representing local stakeholders.
Another mayor failure of the report is that it does not even reject the book and claim' certification system, in which certificates can be freely traded, although it is clearly stated in the report itself that this system is likely to lead to fraudulent practices. This demonstrates that the Commission pays very little attention to the many problems associated with implementing the proposed certification systems in practice.
"All three certification systems suggested are unable to address the indirect impacts of agrofuel production", says Simone Lovera of the Global Forest Coalition, an international coalition of NGOs and Indigenous Peoples' Organizations. "The fact that agrofuel itself is not produced on recently deforested land does not mean that it does not cause deforestation, as the fact that large tracks of existing agricultural land are taken over for agrofuel production will lead to other forms of agriculture and cattle ranching to move torecently deforested areas."
Importantly, the Cramer report does acknowledges the fact that certification in itself cannot solve these indirect effects. The report states that if the negative impacts at macro-level appear to be too big, it is the responsibility of the Dutch government to take action and exert influence on producer countries. "Should the producer country not be responsive, then The Netherlands faces a political consideration, whether or not in EU context, to discourage the use of biomass from that country", says the report.
The undersigned organisations would advice the Dutch Environment Minister, former chair of the Cramer committee, first of all to undertake a broad sustainability impact assessment of the current production and consumption of commodity products like palmoil, soy and sugar cane, and the likely effects of creating an additional market for them for agrofuels.
However, action on the side of consumer countries is what is most needed. In the context of EU promotion of agrofuel use, an Open Letter by Latin American organisations published in January states that "the problem of climate change generated by the countries of the North cannot be solved by creating new problems in our region." Similarly, a broadly signed statement "Biofuels - A Disaster in the Making", presented at the climate negotiations in Nairobi last November, calls Northern countries to reduce their energy consumption to sustainable levels - instead of pushing large scale agrofuel imports.
We therefore urge the Minister to firmly oppose the EU proposal for a 10% binding target for agrofuels (biofuels) in transport and suspend all subsidies and other incentives for agro- energy from monoculture plantations.
Global Forest Coalition
World Rainforest Movement
Latin American Network against Monoculture Tree Plantations
Grupo de Reflexión Rural, Argentina
Corporate Europe Observatory
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