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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Climate in the EU - eat soy to save the planet?! NO! January, 2010

  1. Livestock 'overlooked' in climate talks, says World Bank
  2. EU farm policies to include climate 'pillar
  3. Businesses cashing in on energy savings
  4. European electricity firms line up behind plug-in cars
  5. France drums up support for 'ambitious' EU farm policy
Quote of the day:"Did you get what this is all about? Soy! And this is absolutely disgusting, since soy has a very questionably effect on human health as I have written in Don't get me wrong, I'm not a meat-lover, I eat meat probably 3 days a week and I feel great on this diet. I also love fish. I'm not a vegetarian and I wouldn't make anyone become one just because of global warming. It's ridiculous to even mention it. Especially if you consider that there is soy in almost every product we eat! From waffles to dog food."

Livestock 'overlooked' in climate talks, says World Bank

23 October 2009

Greenhouse gases (GHGs) from the lifecycle and supply chain of animals raised for food account for 51% of annual emissions caused by humans and should be given higher priority in global efforts to fight climate change, World Bank Group experts argue.

While livestock are already known to contribute to GHG emissions, their levels have been underestimated or simply overlooked, former and current World Bank environmental experts Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang argue in a paper published in the November issue of World Watch Magazine.

The authors recognise that the 51% figure put forward "is a strong claim that requires strong evidence," but stress that if their argument is right, "it implies that replacing livestock products with better alternatives" would have far more rapid effects on the climate than actions to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy.

This partly due to significant reductions in the amount of methane, produced by enteric fermentation from cattle. According to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation, 37% of human-induced methane comes from livestock. Although methane produced by enteric fermentation from cattle warms the atmosphere much more strongly than CO2, its half-life in the atmosphere is only about eight years, compared to at least 100 years for CO2.

Another major source of emissions that is overlooked is livestock-related deforestation, the report finds, meaning conversion of natural forest and particularly rainforest into grassland. While rainforest stores "at least 200 tons of carbon per hectare," the tonnage stored by grassland is only eight, the authors say, adding that another 200 tons per hectare of CO2 may be released from the soil beneath.

The authors argue that action to replace livestock products would not only achieve swift GHG emission reductions but would also help ease the global food crisis, as more calories can be produced directly from crops rather than feeding them to livestock.

Ways forward to reduce livestock products and related GHGs include the imposition of carbon taxes by governments "despite opposition from the livestock industry," the authors advance. Such measures, they argue, would push industry and investors to look for market alternatives to livestock products "that taste similar, but are easier to cook, less expensive and healthier," such as soy and seitan (wheat gluten), which are both sources of protein.

The European Natural Soyfood Manufacturers' Association (ENSA) stresses that vegetal alternatives can help reduce meat consumption while preserving the environment, and suggests that each European opt for at least one day a week for a non-animal-based food. source

My comment: Did you get what this is all about? Soy! And this is absolutely disgusting, since soy has a very questionably effect on human health as I have written in Don't get me wrong, I'm not a meat-lover, I eat meat probably 3 days a week and I feel great on this diet. I also love fish. I'm not a vegetarian and I wouldn't make anyone become one just because of global warming. It's ridiculous to even mention it. Especially if you consider that there is soy in almost every product we eat! From waffles to dog food. And I have to wonder, why so many well-fed and well-cared dogs have tumors. But this is another story. What I'm mad for is the way that very suspicious article is lobbying for soy producers. And the same soy is the most genetically modified product after corn! Basically, this article is advertising GMO products and claiming we have to eat them to save the planet. Which of course is nonsense. Sure, we have to decrease our food intake, especially when it comes to animal products, just because it's not healthy for us! I was thinking the other day, how often do our organisms feel hunger. But real hunger, the hunger which starts processing accumulated fat. Not very often. And we know for sure that starvation (limited, not complete) do prolong life - this is a fact and it's proven, it's not a new age bull shit. We know this. Then why we tend to be full of the time. We eat even on the slightest hint that our energy reserve is getting lower! That's wrong. And I think that part of the problem is the stress, because under a lot of stress, our stomach excrete juices that make us more hungry. And food always comfort us. But this is utterly wrong. So if we could decrease our food consumption, while becoming more healthy, great. But to do it to replace real food with soy?!No! And notice, if we accept that live stock input of GHG is ~30%, then by limiting our other activities we can still cut the emissions in half. Which is a lot! So, please, be ware of articles that try to change radically your lifestyle for dubious reasons.

EU farm policies to include climate 'pillar

27 October 2009

The EU's post-2013 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) may well include a 'third pillar' on climate change and make direct support for farmers subject to the delivery of "public goods" such as biodiversity or sustainable farming practices, according to a draft European Commission proposal seen by EurActiv.

While the debate on the next reform of EU farm policy is still in its infancy, a draft Commission document on the EU's next long-term budget paves the way for a "significant reduction in its overall share of the EU budget" to free up money for the bloc's other priorities.

The draft underlines that farmers cannot expect direct support conditions to remain unchanged and wants higher priority given to "non–compulsory environmental services, sustainable farming practices or improving the countryside in high nature value areas".

The main element of the income support provided by the EU budget - the current single payment scheme - could thus be maintained but primarily targeted at providing such "public goods" to create "real EU added value".

Earlier this summer, EU farm ministers debated the concept of making public goods the main focus of farm payments post-2013, but stressed that the term was still somewhat imprecise and needed clarifying (EurActiv 03/06/09).

The Commission document stresses that agriculture must do more to mitigate climate change and "will have to contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to developing the use of land as a carbon sink".

EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel warned last month that European farmers must slash agricultural greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20% by 2020, primarily by producing biomass and storing carbon in the soil (EurActiv 16/09/09).

One of the options put forward is to further intensify EU spending on climate change-related challenges by establishing a 'third pillar' of the CAP, specifically linked to the issue.

The current first pillar includes market support measures and direct subsidies to EU producers, while the second pillar covers rural development programmes. source

My comment: I agree, that's all I can say. You can't expect farmers' payments to stay the same forever. And the question remains why do they need them at all. Sure, as help for starting, or in difficult times, ok. But it's weird to subsidize agriculture permanently. I know this is done in USA too, but this doesn't mean we shouldn't search for better way.

Businesses cashing in on energy savings

3 November 2009

Businesses are looking to a new climate deal in Copenhagen to ensure a level playing field for industry, but in the meantime they are pledging to continue improving their energy efficiency and boosting investment in low-carbon technologies.

Companies are already cutting emissions by using energy more efficiently even without regulation or external funding, a BusinessEurope conference heard last week (28 October).

Saving energy makes sense as a business strategy and such investments pay themselves back within a few years, many companies pointed out.

At the same time, the business community is anticipating the inevitable transition to a low-carbon economy by hedging its bets on innovative technologies. Whirlpool, for example, is developing appliances that will function with smart grids, while Dow is actively working on making new alternative energy technologies readily available, such as bendable solar shingles, company representatives said.

Energy efficiency was identified as the one area where investment is often self-financing. But where markets cannot deliver, smart regulation is needed to create the right incentives.

Energy standards, for example, are particularly relevant for promoting energy-efficient products, said Henk de Bruin, senior vice-president for sustainability at Philips. He pointed out that efficiency levels are now a subconscious factor in many consumers' buying decisions.

BusinessEurope is urging the EU to ensure that any deal in Copenhagen commits all developed countries to equally strong emission reduction targets and sets either binding targets or policies for developing countries by 2020. They believe that subjecting companies that produce internationally-traded goods to similar conditions worldwide will help to create a level playing field. source

My comment: Little outdated article, since Copenhagen is long over and big failure, but anyway. I like how those guys admit that investing into efficiency really makes economical sense. I wonder when somebody will start discussing prolonging warranties too. Because we all know that products break down much more often than they are supposed to and this is a long time strategy to stimulate buying. But if we talk about efficiency this really shouldn't be so.

European electricity firms line up behind plug-in cars

4 November 2009

Europe's electricity suppliers have come together to push for a standardised recharging infrastructure for plug-in electric cars. The move will pave the way for consumers to refuel vehicles at charging stations across Europe.

CEOs from electricity companies gathered in Brussels last week (27 October) to discuss how greater harmonisation of the European energy supply market can be achieved without jeopardising competition.

The industry presented EU Transport Commissioner Antonio Tajani with a declaration pledging their support for a carbon-neutral power supply in Europe and emphasising the need to prepare to electrify the transport network.

They called for a simplified licensing procedure for developing electricity generation and transmission infrastructures, and said access to liquid capital markets will be key to fostering investment.

The ESB estimates that 30% of its own carbon footprint can be attributed to the vans and trucks it uses to service customers and its infrastructure. It is in the process upgrading its own fleet of vehicles to electric models, and uses biofuels where possible.

However, not all auto industry players agree on what the future of electric vehicles will look like. Some are investing heavily in plug-in cars, while others have invested in hydrogen and fuel cell technology. source

My comment: I agree, the common and unified infrastructure is a must for future electric cars.

France drums up support for 'ambitious' EU farm policy

11 December 2009

A Group of 22 European Union countries called yesterday (10 December) for an "ambitious" new farm policy in the bloc to face global food and climate challenges, but left aside divisive budgetary issues for future talks.

It made the call in a joint statement after a meeting of the G22 to discuss the renewal of the EU farm policy, or Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which is due to be renewed in 2013.

"In the face of climate change, global political and food insecurity, the volatility of market prices and the resurgence of health crises, only an ambitious, continent-wide policy with adequate resources can safeguard Europe's independence," the countries said in the declaration.

French farm minister Bruno Le Maire, who chaired the meeting, said the group was against the kind of drastic cut in the EU's farm budget floated in a recent paper from the EU's executive arm, but that the 22 countries had not discussed budget questions during the meeting .

The European Commission is mulling a radical overhaul of the bloc's budget - now worth €125 billion euros annually - that would shift spending away from agriculture towards innovation, climate and energy. The CAP currently eats up more than 40% of the 27-country bloc's budget.

Regarding the absence of five EU members from the Paris meeting, Le Maire said the French initiative formed part of an "open and constructive process" towards renewing the CAP.

The other five countries notably include Britain, a traditional opponent of France in farm negotiations, although French officials said a British representative would join the group of 22 later for lunch in an "observer" role. The Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Malta also declined to attend the Paris meeting. source

My comment: Of course, France would be against a cut into agriculture budget, but I think France cannot be the only reason to spend all those money in agriculture, instead of innovation. But if those money have to go to CCS as Britain and Germany want, I'm not sure which idea is worst. Though CCS will mean some funding some innovations, but it's not precisely my idea of research.


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