Wednesday, 25 March 2009

If agrochar is the answer, then ask a better question

 

  First they sold us agrofuels: palm oil from felled and drained tropical peat forest continues to be mixed into UK diesel, leaving an 800-year carbon debt behind.    Now industrial biomass and agrochar [its advocates call it 'biochar', because that sounds nicer than what it really is] are coming of age.  Widely touted as the most promising geo-engineering 'solution', agrochar - industrialised agricultural turning of forests into charcoal which is then 'planted' in the soil - actually threatens to commit us to worsening dangerous climate change, bringing chaos to planetary life support systems including the rainfall cycle upon which global crop production depends.  

However, this is an extraordinary week for those concerned that 'false solutions' are exacerbating manmade climate change.  On Tuesday, George Monbiot wrote lucidly in GUARDIAN about the hype and misinformation surrounding agrochar, and just a day earlier I spoke at Green Party Spring Conference in Blackpool and helped to bring about an almost unanimous vote against climate geo-engineering 'solutions' which further imperil ecosystems, biodiversity and human communities. The motion that was passed particularly emphasised the risks of agrochar. The Green Party has led the way on so many other things, which were at first seen as 'radical' but that are not common-sense: so we hope it will be on this issue, too.

Last November, my friend and fellow Party-member Dee Rughani gave presentations on agrochar at NGO conferences in Berlin and Brussels.  Many of the big environmental NGOs were represented yet it was hard to find a single person who was familiar with agrochar.  The agrochar lobby had been working silently behind the scenes, managing to keep the issue outside of NGO discussions.  So successful has this approach been that less than a month later at the UN climate conference in Poznan, the 'International Biochar Initiative', uncontested, succeeded in lobbying the Secretariat of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) to get agrochar included in the draft agenda for discussions at the Copenhagen climate conference this year.  Since Poznan, other regulating bodies are giving consideration to a proposal by carbon trading company, Carbon Gold, for agrochar to receive double carbon credits under the Clean Development Mechanism.

Expect some fairytale spin on this one.  Industry lobbyists have found the most profitable 'climate solution' yet! But their dirty secret is out; let's mobilise now to nip this in the bud, and not repeat the same mistake that the world made in allowing agrofuels to take off.

5 Comments:

Blogger Joe Otten said...

By all means argue that no existing bio-egineering proposals are workable. But to say that they never will be is breathtakingly arrogant.

If we had a way to actively cool the planet or actively sequester CO2 from the atmosphere without a big expenditure of energy, why on earth wouldn't we even consider it?

What exactly is the problem?

http://joeotten.blogspot.com/2009/03/ways-to-save-planet.html

25 March 2009 at 13:27  
Blogger Rupert said...

What rubbish you write, Joe, presumably on a mission to waste my time, ahead of the Euros... ;-)
If you can find where in my post I claimed that no bio-engineering proposals will ever work, then I might even vote LibDem. But you won't be able to, so I won't have to - because I didn't.
Please do stop this tiresome time-wasting. It does you no credit.

25 March 2009 at 15:27  
Blogger Joe Otten said...

Well Rupert you endorsed a motion of unqualified opposition to geo-engineering. If your position is different, I would be happy to stand corrected. What sort of geo-engineering would you be in favour of?

By all means don't answer if it is tiresome, but if you don't want to be free with your opinions, why blog in the first place?

25 March 2009 at 16:55  
Blogger Rupert said...

Learn to read, Joe. The motion does NOT express unqualified opposition to all geo-engineering ever.

27 March 2009 at 09:38  
Blogger PM2.5 said...

George Monbiot has a point on bio/agrichars; however Greens move too thoughtlessly against Geo engineered solutions. Joe Otten has a valid point.IMO, which requires humble consideration rather than pious dismissal. This might include and jeopardize Anaerobic Digestion and carbon sequestration of organics, for example. AD is Bio, Geo and engineered. So is Invessel Composting.

The polico crave for clarity of good or bad, and come up with a seemingly grand policy stance, can for the lay person (voter)restricts the sensible and the case by case grey area consideration. The greens could have narrowed the terms down to be more specific such as thermal technology to agrichars in a certain geographic region of concern; or does that mean all Biomass technologies are out (that produce chars to land), which would worry many in the biomass sector.

6 April 2009 at 13:23  

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  First they sold us agrofuels: palm oil from felled and drained tropical peat forest continues to be mixed into UK diesel, leaving an 800-year carbon debt behind.    Now industrial biomass and agrochar [its advocates call it 'biochar', because that sounds nicer than what it really is] are coming of age.  Widely touted as the most promising geo-engineering 'solution', agrochar - industrialised agricultural turning of forests into charcoal which is then 'planted' in the soil - actually threatens to commit us to worsening dangerous climate change, bringing chaos to planetary life support systems including the rainfall cycle upon which global crop production depends.  

However, this is an extraordinary week for those concerned that 'false solutions' are exacerbating manmade climate change.  On Tuesday, George Monbiot wrote lucidly in GUARDIAN about the hype and misinformation surrounding agrochar, and just a day earlier I spoke at Green Party Spring Conference in Blackpool and helped to bring about an almost unanimous vote against climate geo-engineering 'solutions' which further imperil ecosystems, biodiversity and human communities. The motion that was passed particularly emphasised the risks of agrochar. The Green Party has led the way on so many other things, which were at first seen as 'radical' but that are not common-sense: so we hope it will be on this issue, too.

Last November, my friend and fellow Party-member Dee Rughani gave presentations on agrochar at NGO conferences in Berlin and Brussels.  Many of the big environmental NGOs were represented yet it was hard to find a single person who was familiar with agrochar.  The agrochar lobby had been working silently behind the scenes, managing to keep the issue outside of NGO discussions.  So successful has this approach been that less than a month later at the UN climate conference in Poznan, the 'International Biochar Initiative', uncontested, succeeded in lobbying the Secretariat of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) to get agrochar included in the draft agenda for discussions at the Copenhagen climate conference this year.  Since Poznan, other regulating bodies are giving consideration to a proposal by carbon trading company, Carbon Gold, for agrochar to receive double carbon credits under the Clean Development Mechanism.

Expect some fairytale spin on this one.  Industry lobbyists have found the most profitable 'climate solution' yet! But their dirty secret is out; let's mobilise now to nip this in the bud, and not repeat the same mistake that the world made in allowing agrofuels to take off.

30. 31. 32.