December 2009

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This page includes information on news and events in December 2009. (News and events are archived here at the end of the month.)



  • With better stoves, UN aims to cut risk of murder, rape for women seeking firewood, 16 December 2009 by UN News Center: "The United Nations today launched a pilot project to provide fuel-efficient stoves to some 150,000 women in Sudan and Uganda to cut the risks of murder, rape and other violence they face in gathering firewood, while at the same time protecting the environment."
    • "'Women and girls should not have to risk their lives and dignity, and precious trees should not be lost, in the simple act of trying to cook food for their families,' WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran said. 'The SAFE stoves launch will help protect them and the environment with practical and urgently needed solutions.'"[1]
  • USDA Makes a Move on Methane, 12 December 2009 by CQ Politics: "Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a conference call from Copenhagen that his department and the dairy industry have reached an agreement to accelerate efforts to reduce the industry’s greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020. The announcement is part of the Obama administration’s continuing campaign to convince farmers they can benefit from an international agreement on climate change."
    • "USDA will provide technical assistance and grants to dairy farmers for anaerobic digesters and generators used to compost manure, extract gases and burn them to produce electricity. Manure emits methane, a major greenhouse gas."[2]
  • Charcoal trade threatens gorillas, 12 December 2009 by UPI: "The habitat of rare mountain gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo is being threatened by charcoal production, officials said."
    • "Thousands of kilns mounded from dirt within the 3,000-square-mile Virunga National Park produce charcoal for rebel forces. The park is home to about 200 endangered mountain gorillas."
    • "To break the reliance on charcoal, villagers and refugees are being urged to use presses, paid for by the Rwandan wildlife service, that turn...leaf mulch, rice husks and other organic waste into fuel briquettes".[3]
  • CLIMATE CHANGE: Brazil Defends Biofuels, 9 December 2009 by IPS/TerraViva: "Being the world’s largest producer and exporter of ethanol it is natural for the Brazilian government and its partners to push biofuels as the only real alternative for a world trying wean itself away from fossil fuels that contribute to global warming."
    • "Brazilian authorities were ready with their arguments at the United Nations climate change summit"...."at pains to show that not only is biofuel production the best way to reduce greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions but can also combat poverty as exemplified by the country’s scheme to promote micro-distilleries to provide additional income for rural families."
    • "While admitting that "biofuels are no silver bullet," Brazilian authorities insist that biofuels are the best way forward for developing countries."[4]
  • Launching of the ‘National Biomass Cookstove Initiative’ by Indian Government, 3 December 2009 by HEDON Household Energy Network: "The Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy launched a New Initiative on Improved Biomass Cookstoves 'National Biomass Cookstove Initiative' on the 2nd of December 2009 in New Delhi."
    • "A large section of [India's] population – 75% of the rural households and 22% of the urban households, according to the National Sample Survey’s 61st survey -- still uses biomass for its cooking needs. An estimated 80% of the residential energy in India comes from biomass, much of it burnt in traditional chulhas."
    • "[P]roviding a clean cooking energy option for these households will yield enormous gains in terms of health and socio-economic welfare of the weakest and the most vulnerable sections of society. At the same time, the cleaner combustion in these devices will greatly reduce the products of incomplete combustion which are greenhouse pollutants, thus helping combat climate change." [7]
  • Indonesia could double oil palm plantation area, 2 December 2009 by Mongabay: "Indonesia has 18 million hectares of land suitable for oil palm cultivation, nearly twice the 9.7 million hectares that have already been allocated for plantations, said Agriculture Minister the opening of the 5th Indonesian Palm Oil Conference in Bali."
    • "Roughly 7.9 million hectares of the allocated area has already been planted with oil palm."
    • "Oil palm expansion in Indonesia promises to be controversial due to environmental concerns. In February the government approved a decree that will allow the conversion of up to 2 million hectares carbon-rich peatlands, a move scientists warn could trigger the release of hundreds of millions of tons of CO2."
    • "[E]conomic returns from oil palm plantations could soon face competition under a scheme (known as REDD for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation) that would compensate countries for protecting carbon sinks, notably tropical forests and possibly peatlands. Under some circumstances carbon conservation could outperform palm oil production....Indonesia's recent announcements about oil palm expansion across peatlands may in fact be posturing to win more compensation under a REDD mechanism."[8]
  • EPA delays action on more ethanol in gasoline, 1 December 2009 by Reuters: "Newer American cars will likely be able to handle higher ethanol blends in their gasoline but the decision to approve an industry request to change the fuel mix will have to await final testing next year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Tuesday."
    • "The EPA was supposed to decide by December 1 on a petition from Growth Energy and 54 ethanol manufacturers to let gasoline contain up to 15 percent ethanol."
    • "While farmers who provide the corn to make ethanol also support the initiative, automakers asked the EPA during the summer not to approve higher blends until the agency had test results showing the fuel would not damage vehicles."
    • "Energy legislation passed by Congress in 2007 set binding targets for fuel blending each year, with ethanol use rising from 4 billion gallons in 2006 and 11.1 billion gallons in 2009 to 20.5 billion by 2015 and 36 billion by 2022."[9]

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