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Climate “Solutions Harm People


Washington Post:

How biofuels contribute to the food crisis

Demand for biofuels is almost doubling the challenge of producing more food. Since 2004, for every additional ton of grain needed to feed a growing world population, rising government requirements for ethanol from grain have demanded a matching ton.




Oregon State:

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new study by economists at Oregon State University questions the cost-effectiveness of biofuels and says they would barely reduce fossil fuel use and would likely increase greenhouse gas emissions.




Huffington Post:

Many experts also point out that U.S. demand for corn to manufacture ethanol is a large factor in the price hikes, especially in neighboring countries. Significant amounts of Mexican corn are now being diverted northward to take advantage of the high prices. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/06/05/biofuel-backlash-mexicos_n_105415.html




New York Times:

Fuel Choices, Food Crises and Finger-Pointing

The idea of turning farms into fuel plants seemed, for a time, like one of the answers to high global oil prices and supply worries. That strategy seemed to reach a high point last year when Congress mandated a fivefold increase in the use of biofuels.


But now a reaction is building against policies in the United States and Europe to promote ethanol and similar fuels, with political leaders from poor countries contending that these fuels are driving up food prices and starving poor people. Biofuels are fast becoming a new flash point in global diplomacy, putting pressure on Western politicians to reconsider their policies, even as they argue that biofuels are only one factor in the seemingly inexorable rise in food prices.


In some countries, the higher prices are leading to riots, political instability and growing worries about feeding the poorest people. Food riots contributed to the dismissal of Haiti’s prime minister last week, and leaders in some other countries are nervously trying to calm anxious consumers.

 New York Times, April 15, 2008

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/15/business/worldbusiness/15food.html?ref=wo rld&_r=0



The Guardian:

The forces pushing up food prices

1 Rising consumption: The appetite of fast-growing nations, such as China, is rising as economic booms cause a surge in demand for meat and dairy products

2 Competition from biofuels: The cars of the rich are now rivalling the bellies of the poor for corn, cane and edible oils




Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations:

In less than one decade, world biofuel production has increased five times, from less than 20 billion litres/year in 2001 to over 100 billion litres/year in 2011. The steepest rise in biofuel production occurred in 2007/2008, concomitantly with a sharp rise in food commodity prices (HLPE, 2011a), quickly accompanied by food riots in the cities of many developing countries. In comparison with average food prices between 2002 and 2004, globally traded prices of cereals, oils and fats have been on average from 2 to 2.5 times higher in 2008 and 201112, and sugar prices have had annual averages of from 80 percent to 340 percent above their 2000-04 prices. These price increases were accompanied by price volatility and price spikes to an extent unprecedented since the 1970s.

http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/hlpe/hlpe_documents/HLPE_Reports/H LPE-Report-5_Biofuels_and_food_security.pdf



Recent dramatic increases in food prices are having severe consequences for poor countries and poor people. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reports that food prices rose by nearly 40 percent in 2007 and made further large jumps in early 2008. Nearly all agricultural commodities—including rice, maize, wheat, meat, dairy products, soybeans, palm oil, and cassava—are affected. In response to the price hikes, food riots have occurred in many developing countries, including Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Haiti, Indonesia, Senegal, and Somalia. According to the FAO, 37 countries are now facing food crises.

Triggers and Underlying Factors

High food-price triggers have included biofuel policies, which have led to large volumes of food crops being shifted into bioethanol and biodiesel production;




Social Science Research Network:

(Author is with the World Bank - Development Economics Group (DEC))


The rapid rise in food prices has been a burden on the poor in developing countries, who spend roughly half of their household incomes on food. This paper examines the factors behind the rapid increase in internationally traded food prices since 2002 and estimates the contribution of various factors such as the increased production of biofuels from food grains and oilseeds, the weak dollar, and the increase in food production costs due to higher energy prices. It concludes that the most important factor was the large increase in biofuels production in the U.S. and the EU. Without these increases, global wheat and maize stocks would not have declined appreciably, oilseed prices would not have tripled, and price increases due to other factors, such as droughts, would have been more moderate. Recent export bans and speculative activities would probably not have occurred because they were largely responses to rising prices. While it is difficult to compare the results of this study with those of other studies due to differences in methodologies, time periods and prices considered, many other studies have also recognized biofuels production as a major driver of food prices. The contribution of biofuels to the rise in food prices raises an important policy issue, since much of the increase was due to EU and U.S. government policies that provided incentives to biofuels production, and biofuels policies which subsidize production need to be reconsidered in light of their impact on food prices.




The New England Complex Systems Institute has become the latest organization to charge that by turning almost 50 percent of our corn crop into auto fuel, America is causing food shortages in the poorer nations of the world. The UN Food and Agriculture Association has been saying the same thing for ten years, calling biofuels "a crime against humanity." But this time the authors are not simply making the accusation. They are providing correlations to back it up.

http://www.realclearenergy.org/charticles/2013/03/18/is_ethanol_causing_food_ri ots_106927.html



World Resources Institute

Ultimately, plant growth can offset greenhouse gas emissions only to the extent that bioenergy leads to more plant growth than would occur anyway, directly or indirectly. That happens only to a limited extent (see “additional biomass” below) and cannot happen at a meaningful scale because the world’s productive land and potential to boost crop, pasture, and timber yields is already needed to meet rising demands for food and timber.

http://www.wri.org/sites/default/files/avoiding_bioenergy_competition_for_food_c rops_and_land_final.pdf




Climate “Solutions” Harm People

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Carbon Tax

Why Revenue Neutral Isn’t, and Other Costs of the BC Tax


Willis Eschenbach / July 15, 2013


I hope against hope that this is my last post on this lunacy. I started by foolishly saying I would write about the benefits, costs, and outcomes of the BC carbon-based energy tax, so I was stuck with doing it. I discussed the possible benefits of the tax in “British Columbia, British Utopia“. To recap the bidding from that post, I showed that if we assume 1) that the BC folks could hold their CO2 emissions steady, with absolutely no increase for 50 years, and 2) that CO2 is the secret control knob that regulates planetary temperature, and 3) climate sensitivity of the secret CO2 control knob is not less than 3°C per doubling of CO2 … assuming all of those things, they’d achieve a 0.003°C reduction in temperature in half a century. Anything less than 100% on any of those, of course, means less than three thousandths of a degree savings.


I followed that with an analysis of the pre-tax and post-tax changes in the motor fuel sales in BC called “Fuel On The Highway In British Pre-Columbia“. Curiously, both total and per-capita road fuel (diesel plus gasoline) have increased since the tax was passed.  Read the rest at:  Why Revenue Neutral Isn’t, and Other Costs of the BC Tax



The complete series:

British Columbia, British Utopia

Fuel on the Highway in British Pre-Columbia

The Real Canadian Hockeystick

Why Revenue Neutral Isn’t, and Other Costs of the BC Tax