Climate Change

Help us take action against climate change…

Climate change is one of the biggest threats facing our planet. Burning coal, oil and gas, but also intensive agriculture or cutting forests pollute the atmosphere with greenhouse gases that heat up the planet.

The good news is that all we need to save the climate is in our hands.

 

 

Friends of the Earth, Malta seeks to influence government to make changes in policies in favour of people and planet
Our next challenge is to lobby the Maltese government to commit to renewable energy and energy efficiency as a tangible means not only to meet Malta’s international emission targets but to ensure a healthier planet and a better way of life for future generations
 
… join our campaign and support Friends of the Earth
 

Biodiesel is to a certain extent considered as a renewable fuel derived from vegetable oil or animal fats that can be added to petroleum diesel as a blend or used on its own. In Europe, production of biodiesel from energy crops has grown steadily in the last decade, principally focused on rapeseed used for oil and energy. In the U.S., most biodiesel is made from soybeans.

In the developing world, biodiesel is produced from palm oil, sunflowers, and other sources. In Indonesia, there is significant concern that biodiesel may be causing deforestation, as native forests and marshland are removed to make way for palm oil plantations.

On the surface, and until very recently, biofuels were hailed as the most promising and ideal solution to solve the climate change problem. They can be grown in large amounts and the carbon that is released by burning them is equal to the amount they use as they grow. At first glance this “back of the envelope” calculation looks very plausible, but one needs to delve deeper into the issue and looks closer at what is really going on, and also at the implications it is having on other sectors.

The energy debate has explored biofuels as a "transition" to renewable energy. Some claim that in the context of the carbon emissions, biofuels are better than oil and are a significant step toward a society based entirely on renewable energy.

We are dependent on oil because the massive infrastructure of our societies is based on the use of fossil fuels. Changing over to a biofuel society involves building a similarly massive infrastructure. Hence, in order to meet current energy demands, we must grow crops over huge areas, build factories and storage facilities, redesign automobiles to run on biodiesel, and more. We would be stuck in a biofuel society as much as we are now in a fossil fuel society.

In the case of Malta, the situation is somewhat different as our biodiesel comes from waste stream sources including used cooking oils or animal fats.

This is a more sustainable source of fuel as the used oil would otherwise end up being disposed off at the landfill. In fact, Friends of the Earth Malta urges all catering establishments that normally throw away used vegetable oil to get in touch with Edible Oil Refining Co Ltd so that used oil can be collected for the production of biodiesel.

The national sewer discharge regulation (LN 378/05) stipulates that all catering establishments should install a grease trap in order to prevent the blocking of sewers with grease and fat. At present most of the collected grease ends up at the landfill and what is not collected ends up in the sea.
Edible Oil is offering a service whereby oil is collected to make biodiesel. Biodiesel has several environmental advantages over mineral diesel and is less dangerous to health, while collecting and re-using spent oil will reduce our waste problems.

Motor Vehicles that run on diesel can easily switch to biodiesel. This can be obtainable from some of the petrol stations around the island. (Click here for full list)

All catering establishments interested in having their oil collected should phone the sales department at Edible Oil on 21 232111.

As mentioned before, the production of agrofuels has potentially far-reaching social and environmental impacts, and raises urgent questions about whether they are an effective or economical way of helping to combat climate change.

Agrofuels production has increased in recent years. Some commodities like maize can be used as a food crop or energy crop. With global demand for biofuels on the increase due to the oil price increases taking place in recent months, there is also fear of the potential destruction of natural habitats.

The economic incentive to grow crops for fuels instead of food will drive down food production in the long run, permanently inflating the cost of food. At the same time, less food will be produced. This combination creates a situation, where landowners motivated by profits to grow fuel crops, will lead to an increase in the number of hungry people in poor countries.

Most agricultural land is already used to grow food, animal feed, fibre and numerous other products. The growing demand for biomass for agrofuels is leading to significant pressures in agricultural areas, which particularly for marginalized groups leads to competition with food supply. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warns that “Traditional food and fibre use of land may lose out in this competition simply because, on the margin, the potential market for energy is huge in relation to that for food, eventually leading to rising food prices. The latter may not dent the welfare of those who can afford to pay higher prices for both food and fuel, including the population groups that benefit from the development of biofuels. However, low income consumers that do not participate in such gains may be adversely affected in their access to food.”

In many of the poorer ‘Southern’ countries, people have little access to land. Expansion of the area used to export agrofuels crops will likely worsen this situation. The sheer quantity of land needed to produce agrofuels on a large scale may also lead to conflicts with food supply and peoples’ access. The United Nations warns that the “transition to liquid biofuels can be especially harmful to farmers who do not own their own land, and to the rural and urban poor who are net buyers of food…this is one of the most significant threats associated with liquid biofuel development and calls for careful consideration by decision-makers.”

The world stocks of grain are at their lowest for 30 years, with currently enough surpluses to feed the world’s population for 45 days (116 days in 1999). This drop in grain stocks is already provoking price rises and impacting on low-income countries. There is a real danger that diverting agricultural land into agrofuels production will worsen the situation and is likely to compromise the UN Millennium Development Goal to eradicate extreme hunger by 2015.

Proponents of genetic engineering are also promoting agrofuels in an attempt to break worldwide opposition to genetically modified (GM) foods, even though current GM crops provide no advantage when producing agrofuels.

The first priority in securing energy supplies should be reducing demand and improving efficiency.
Agreeing to targets to increase the amount of agrofuels in petrol or diesel, without curtailing the growth in transport, will mean that we will still need the same level of mineral fuels in the near future with all the insecurities and social and environmental problems these bring.

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