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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Forum for the Future, Greenwash and the sell out of Jonathon Porritt??


Dear Jonathon

You may remember our conversation after your presentation on sustainable population on Thursday at Cirencester.

You will probably remember I took exception to you  focusing your anger on the environmental and social justice movements for not raising the issue of population.  By contrast, you said at the beginning of your presentation that you would not focus on the Catholic church. This is despite them pursuing a dangerous expansionist policy of population growth by preaching against contraception, which is line with the most odious regimes of the past.

I commend you for starting this difficult debate on how to get to a sustainable population.

However, we have  pressing issues that must be addressed immediately. Failure to address these within the very short timescale that we have left will result in our society collapsing through war and climate collapse. This is were the focus of the environmental movement is. Those of us on the front line do not have either the time, resources or emotional energy to tackle the vexing problem of our population growth. We also realize that tackling population growth is a long term issue and unless we urgently eliminate excess consumption we will not be around long enough to debate issues of optimum population.

It is therefore extremely dispiriting to see the companies Forum for the Future lists  as partners to work with to create a sustainable future. 

To name a few:
Jaguar and Land Rover - manufacturers of the most environmentally destructive brands of cars. 

Cargill - One of the biggest players in the biofuel disaster leading to widescale deforestation, compromise of food supplies and disruption of our climate. 

Shell - who led the way into the Niger Delta destroying the environment and settled out of court for collaborating in the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa.

Then there is also the ongoing relationship that you have with Richard Branson. A man that has the unique ability to simultaneously support action on climate change and aviation expansion without the slightest hint of shame. 

All these organisations that you are working with are actively contributing to the explosive growth in atmospheric CO2 which I address in my submission to the government's sustainable aviation strategy

However, the greenwashing that most angers those of us on the front line of campaigning on climate change is your relationship with TUI, who prominently feature on your web site

TUI's subsidiary company, Thomson Airways, have recently launched a service using biofuels. This is the start of dangerous development where the aviation industry wishes to cynically exploit loopholes in the EU ETS giving free carbon allowances for biofuels. This is despite no evidence that biofuel reduces greenhouse gas emissions and overwhelming evidence that it forces food prices up, it leads to deforestation and displacement of millions of people. 

A recent statement from TUI is attached below. They state that they will be "working in partnership with Forum for the Future to facilitate discussions." We can only presume you will attempt to prove that their use of biofuels will make their environment destruction sustainable. 

The evidence is that the aviation industry can only be made sustainable by quickly reducing flying. This is the unanimous statement from all credible environmental groups. You have spoken on many occasions on the need for cooperation rather than competition, but have been silent on the point that cooperation requires self sacrifice and discipline. 

We therefore challenge you to practice what is preached. We ask that you demand TUI reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by cutting flights rather than attempting to pursue unfounded and dangerous ideas such as biofuels and that they work with other airlines to achieve this.  We also challenge you to support other environmental groups who take this position such as Friends of Earth (Brimingham), Airport Watch, Plane Stupid, Biofuel Watch, Action Aid and the Tyndall center. 

Kindest Regards,
Kevin Lister


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Response from Christian Cull, communications director at TUI UK & Ireland...
At Thomson Airways, we realise that there is no perfect solution out there, and we certainly don’t have all the answers. So we welcome the challenge by the WWF-UK to demonstrate our sustainability plans, and we are working in partnership with Forum for the Future to facilitate discussions. We simply want to do the best we can.
We are fully committed to the use of sustainable second generation aviation biofuel – and there’s a big difference between first and second generation biofuel. Thomson Airways belongs to the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group. That means we have pledged to use only feedstocks that do not compete with food or natural resources; and which have significantly fewer total lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions than fossil jet fuel.
Once the supply chain develops, feedstocks grown in developing areas must have a positive socio-economic benefit to local communities and areas of high conservation value. Also, local eco-systems must not be cleared. That has always been our view.
We are certainly aware of the potential negative impact of using biofuels irresponsibly. Indeed, we want the whole industry to work together with initiatives such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels [http://rsb.epfl.ch/] to find more sustainable alternatives to fossil fuel. This is a journey, and we need to find the best long term route forward and we know that there are challenges ahead, particularly in terms of supply limitations: the current biofuels supply chain is in its infancy. But we – and the aviation industry as a whole - cannot stand still and do nothing.
We need flexibility to find the best solution. So yes, our current operations are being conducted with biofuels made out of used cooking oil, and we are comfortable with that. But Thomson Airways has partnered with a fuel supplier that is not feedstock or technology specific. The sustainability of alternative aviation fuels depends on many factors and has to be assessed on a case-by-case basis. To make the right decisions now and in the future, SkyNRG is advised by an independent Sustainability Board, consisting of the Dutch wing of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-NL), Solidaridad, and the Copernicus Institute of the University of Utrecht.
We also fully support the move for all modes of transport to move towards more sustainable energy sources. Whilst in a transition phase, at Thomson Airways we believe that sustainable liquid fuel should be prioritised for aviation because there is no near term alternative (such as electric or hydrogen for ground based vehicles).
This view is supported by the WWF Energy Report 2011: ‘Although the Ecofys scenario favours other renewable resources wherever possible, there are some applications where bioenergy is currently the only suitable replacement for fossil fuels. Aviation, shipping and long-haul trucking require liquid fuels with a high energy density; they cannot, with current technology and fuelling infrastructure, be electrified or powered by hydrogen.’   (page 40 of  link )
which then also says:   "Some industrial processes, such as steel manufacturing, require fuels not only for their energy content, but as feedstocks with specific material properties.By 2050, 60 per cent of industrial fuels and heat will come from biomass. 13 per cent of building heat will come from biomass and some biomass will still be needed in the electricity mix (about 13 per cent), for balancing purposes with other renewable energy technologies.")
In response to comments from the WWF-UK, we appreciate the need to clarify the statement regarding the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB). The RSB announced that their methodology can hold for used cooking oil, but that doesn't mean it is RSB certified. To be more precise: even though the RSB criteria exists, no used cooking oil has been RSB certified to date.
For more information on sustainable options for aviation biofuel, please read http://www.enviro.aero/Content/Upload/File/BeginnersGuide_Biofuels_WebRes.pdf
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