Scientists contest IPCC biofuel advice
Five senior scientists have written to the head of IPCC, Dr R K Pachauri, to highlight "serious and dangerous deficiencies" in the notes on biofuels in the recently released IPCC AR4 Mitigation book, it has emerged . The IPCC Synthesis Report is expected to be approved by national delegations this month.
They highlight that no proof has been given, even when requested from the relevant Author, of the claim in the SPM (Summary for Policy Makers) that biofuel blending, as a policy, measure or instrument, had been "environmentally effective…in at least a number of national cases."
That claim, being a Brazilian amendment passed at the last IPCC plenary session, has reappeared in a bolder form in the latest UN Global Environment Outlook.
The Transport chapter omitted to warn that even modest growth of biofuels, by using up farmland or pasture, often leads to cropland as a whole expanding at the expense of natural forests and grassland. The carbon emissions from such land-use change can negate any benefits for decades or centuries. This was occurring in South East Asia, and possibly now in South America, in partial response to EU and US biofuel incentives.
The studies of biofuel emissions balances used by the IPCC did not model the effects of such outcomes. Yet these would need to be included in any assessment of whether biofuel blending programmes or incentives had been "environmentally effective", said the five scientists.
They are now calling for the full basis for this claim in the SPM to be revealed, or for the claim to be withdrawn.
The IPCC advice also failed to note that growing biofuels was currently a very inefficient use of land for mitigation, compared with growing solid fuel to replace coal. "That is elementary to any discussion of bioenergy," said Helmut Haberl of Klagenfurt University.
David Pimentel, of Cornell University, added: "Climate change is a most pressing issue for humanity, and world leaders need to take the issue of mitigation much more seriously than they have to date. Having said that, decision-makers need to be given balanced and justified advice. These particular notes, as they stand, will be used to support erroneous and disastrous decisions, and that is simply not right".
Contact: Jim Roland, +44 7958 676085, quailrecords [-AT-] hotmail.com
 The scientists are all noted ecological or energy analysts:
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Professor David Pimentel, Professor of entomology and ecology and agricultural sciences at Cornell University has had a distinguished career researching fields including agro-ecology, environmental and energy policy, and as a public advisor. He has published more than 600 science papers. For further notes see http://www.entomology.cornell.edu/Faculty_Staff/Pimentel/pimentel.html;
Professor Tad Patzek, University of California, Berkeley, USA. A specialist in geoengineering and energy modelling who is a co-author of some 200 papers and reports. He and David Pimentel are the foremost critics of the US ethanol programme. See http://www.ce.berkeley.edu/faculty/faculty.php?name=Patzek; http://petroleum.berkeley.edu/papers/Biofuels/MyBiofuelPapersTop.htm
Professor Dr. Florian Siegert is a specialist in monitoring deforestation, remote sensing and geographic information systems. He is managing director of Remote Sensing Solutions GmbH, is a co-author of over 70 papers and book chapters, and lectures at the GeoBio Center of the Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich. He is also a noted critic of the use of palm oil to fuel power plants. http://www.rssgmbh.de/
Dr. Mario Giampietro, ICREA Research Professor, Universitat Autònoma
de Barcelona (UAB) Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA), is a
specialist in sustainability analysis of agriculture and energy analysis. An in-demand visiting scientist, he is a co-author of over 130 papers and book chapters and is a member of several scientific boards. A recent biography is at http://www.liphe4.org/mario.html Spoken languages: Italian, English, Spanish, and French.
Professor Helmut Haberl, Klagenfurt University, Austria. A specialist in integrated land science, indicators of society-nature interaction, ecological footprinting and sustainability, he is a co-author of over 150 papers, books and book chapters, and a member of several scientific boards, including those of the EEA and the Global Land Project. http://www.iff.ac.at/socec/staff/haberl.php