Banning “bad” biofuels, becoming better consumers: Casual observers might consider it a setback for proponents of ethanol and biodiesel now that Europe is planning to ban biofuels made from crops grown on high-value conservation lands. But the truth is, shunning biofuels produced on wetlands, grasslands, and deforested land is good for both critics and supporters. Overall, it’s even good for the biofuel industry because it might restore some faith in their product, which has been attacked from all corners in recent months. The main problem with Europe’s new law, in fact, may be that it is not stringent enough.   Worldwatch Institute

State of the Union excerpts: Excerpts from the prepared text of President Bush’s final State of the Union address Monday, as released by the White House … On climate change: “Let us create a new international clean technology fund, which will help developing nations like India and China make greater use of clean energy sources. And let us complete an international agreement that has the potential to slow, stop and eventually reverse the growth of greenhouse gases. This agreement will be effective only if it includes commitments by every major economy and gives none a free ride.” Associated Press

Driven by mischief: Any advertiser flicking through the Advertising Standards Authority’s code of practice quickly arrives at section 2.2. “All marketing communications,” it decrees, “should be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society.” What a shame this sense of responsibility isn’t extended to the environment, too. Given that we are bombarded with, on average, 3,000 adverts every day – there are about 50 in this paper today – it doesn’t take long before you come across one that promotes a product that, in its own small way, is harming the environment. But beyond the mundane adverts for cheap flights, plasma TVs and patio heaters, there is a new generation of advert that almost appears to be goading society’s newfound environmental sensibilities. Guardian

G7 to consider climate change fund: Japan, Britain and the United States are looking to jointly propose the creation of a special fund designed to fight climate change. The three plan to make the proposal during a meeting of financial chiefs from the Group of Seven industrialised nations on February 9 in Tokyo, Jiji Press said Monday. The fund is mainly aimed at helping developing countries imp rove energy-saving technologies, Jiji said, adding that the World Bank is expected to manage it. The three countries are to call on the other G7 members to back the plan and include it in their joint statement to be adopted at the end of the one-day meeting, it said. AFP

Is big business still thinking green?: In 2007 climate change was the big topic at the World Economic Forum. One year on, is big business acting green? Environmental campaigners call it greenwash – when a company, organisation or government makes grand claims about its environmental record, but has little evidence to back them up. Is Davos any different? The environment had largely disappeared from the forum’s agenda. A few sessions examined, for example, whether biofuels are really beneficial, whether carbon trading works, and why nuclear energy is back in fashion. Last year’s hot topic had become a casualty of the forum’s habit of trying to push new issues on to the global agenda. But the reality is more complex then that. BBC

Peter Fray

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