On wednesday (17. January 2018), meps in the EU parliament plan to vote, among other things, on their position on the new renewable energy directive, which is to apply until 2030. Many parliamentarians want to ban palm oil from biofuels – a majority was already emerging before the vote. However, the vote is not the final word: before the palm oil ban becomes law, the parliament must reach an agreement with the member states.
So far, about one third of the conventional biodiesel consumed in the EU is derived from imported palm oil. This is the conclusion of a study by the non-governmental organization transport environment. According to the study, car and truck drivers are the biggest consumers of palm oil in the EU. Palm oil-based fuel is responsible for three times the greenhouse gas emissions of fossil fuels.
The debate is being followed with great interest in southeast asia. The two largest palm oil producers in the world are indonesia and malaysia. More than 80 percent of the more than 60 million metric tons of vegetable oil produced annually is produced in these two countries. An important economic factor – although, according to critics, the market is dominated by international corporations, while the local population hardly benefits at all. In indonesia, palm oil plantations cover 15 million hectares of national territory. The oil palms grow on huge plantations, strictly geometrical. They are superlative plants: up to 30 meters high, with seven-meter-long leaves and thousands of fruits. Above all, however, they require much less space than others. 3.3 metric tons of palm oil can be produced per year from one hectare of cultivated land. For rapeseed, coconut palm and sunflowers, the figure is only 0.7. On borneo, which is shared by indonesia and malaysia (with brunei), and on the neighboring island of sumatra, more than six million hectares of rainforest have been cleared in the past decade.
Many jobs in these countries are linked to the production of palm oil. In indonesia alone, there are more than three million. President joko widodo and malaysia’s prime minister najib razak ied a joint statement warning that millions of lives would be affected if the EU’s "unfair practices" were implemented.
In malaysia, a petition to the EU has just collected the signatures of more than 600,000 small farmers.000 small farmers. Some newspapers are already talking about a "palm oil war" with the europeans. Plantation minister datuk seri mah has already threatened countermeasures. "If these hate campaigns against palmol continue, we can also strike back," mah said. "Malaysia, indonesia and thailand are all major buyers of EU products."
EU parliamentarians are nevertheless convinced that palm oil has no place in tanks. Biodiesel based on this plant oil simply cannot be described as sustainable, according to the european green party. It harms the environment and does not help achieve the goals of the paris climate agreement. CDU MEP peter liese says: "the whole biofuel debate has been poisoned by the ie of palm oil." this is another reason why his group favors a ban on palmol in biodiesel. "One does not have to demand also still robbery at nature , means it.
According to a study by the singapore institute of international affairs, 17 percent of indonesia’s palm oil exports go to the EU. Malaysia sends 13 percent of its exports to europe. Compared to populous countries such as china, india or indonesia itself – where palm oil is mainly used for cooking and baking – consumption in the EU is rather low. And in chocolate and cosmetics, the ol may also continue to be used in europe for the time being. So the european union cannot put the death knell on the palm oil industry – regardless of the outcome of the debate. The question of how the palm oil content in biodiesel is to be replaced is also unclear.