EU labels palm oil in diesel as unsustainable – it causes deforestation

The European Commission today decided that palm oil is not a green fuel and should not be promoted because it causes deforestation. The use of palm oil in diesel, which is driven by the EU’s renewable energy targets, will be gradually reduced as of 2023 and should reach zero in 2030 although exemptions remain. Europe’s federation of green transport NGOs, Transport & Environment (T&E), said the labelling of palm oil as unsustainable is a milestone in the fight to recognise the climate impact of burning food for energy. However, in a bid to placate palm oil producing countries such as MalaysiaIndonesia and Colombia, the Commission introduced a number of exemptions, so some palm oil could still be promoted as a “green” road fuel. The Commission also failed to classify soy, a major contributor to deforestation worldwide, as unsustainable. The EU is the world’s 2nd largest importer of crude palm oil; over half of it (around four million tonnes) is currently used to make ‘green’ fuel.  Malaysia and Indonesia are keen to push palm oil as future jet fuel, and threaten not to buy European planes if they refuse to buy palm oil for fuel.
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EU labels palm oil in diesel as unsustainable

By Transport & Environment

The European Commission today decided that palm oil is not a green fuel and should not be promoted because it causes deforestation. The use of palm oil in diesel, which is driven by the EU’s renewable energy targets, will be gradually reduced as of 2023 and should reach zero in 2030 although exemptions remain. Europe’s federation of green transport NGOs, Transport & Environment (T&E), said the labelling of palm oil as unsustainable is a milestone in the fight to recognise the climate impact of burning food for energy.

Notes to editors:

[1] The loopholes introduced by the Commission would allow additional palm oil production coming from yield increases or produced on so-called unused land to still qualify as green. Often such ‘unused’ land is actually used by local communities to support themselves such as providing food. The text also provides a derogation for palm oil produced by small farmers – despite the size of a plantation bearing no relation to the risk of deforestation or the changes in land use. Independent analysis has shown that such exemptions are not environmentally justifiable. The size of the exemption cannot be quantified at this stage but will depend heavily on how tightly the provisions are monitored and enforced.

[2] Despite demonstrating that 8% of global soy expansion happened on high-carbon land, the Commission decided to keep promoting soy as a renewable fuel.

Malaysian airlines back Malaysian campaign to boost palm oil production and use

A Malaysian newspaper comments on the Ministry of Primary Industries’ year-long “Love MY Palm Oil” campaign. It aims to fight anti-palm oil campaigns that backers of palm oil growing say are threatening people’s livelihoods.  Now 3 Malaysian airlines have joined the campaign, Malaysia Airlines, Malindo Airways and AirAsia.  The airlines, with Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB), “will extol the virtues of palm oil through their digital info screens, in-flight magazines and entertainment systems, art and product displays.” The Primary Industries minister says they are displaying “patriotism” and elevating the image of palm oil.  This followed the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) passing a resolution in October 2018 to ban palm oil biofuels in Europe by 2020.  Malaysia and Indonesia are the largest producers of palm oil globally.  Malaysia’s Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is due to hold the official launch of the “Love MY Palm Oil” campaign in the first quarter of 2019. [Palm oil as a fuel for aircraft is a disaster, as its life-cycle carbon emissions are high, taking into account the Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) impacts. Not to mention the deforestation and loss of biodiversity. But palm oil would be cheap fuel for airlines, regardless of how environmentally harmful it is ….] 

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2019/01/malaysian-airlines-back-malaysian-campaign-to-boost-palm-oil-production-and-use/

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