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Virgin biofuel flight misleading ‘breakthrough’


Virgin Atlantic yesterday said their pioneering flight was a historic step towards using biofuels on commercial flights, with the aim of reducing carbon emissions.

Although they claim that the biofuels used in their pioneering biofuel flight are “completely environmentally and socially sustainable”, so far most biofuels that are presently being produced have significant negative environmental, social and economic impacts, such as raising food costs in developing countries, damaging the environment and displacing indigenous local populations.

Wetlands International calls for biofuel certification criteria that involve a full carbon account and that exclude biofuels produced in naturally carbon rich areas such as peatlands and forested (or recently deforested) areas. In addition, criteria must take account of impacts on globally important biodiversity, competition for land and water with food production, land rights, etcetera.

The carbon savings Virgin Atlantic is claiming are questionable. For the production of many biofuels, areas with large carbon stocks like forests and especially carbon rich peatlands (see study by Wetlands International and Delft Hydraulics) are degraded. This causes more emissions than biofuel use can reduce at all. There is no scheme in place to trace and exclude biofuels produced in an unsustainable way.

Wetlands International is a member of the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) with the aim to contribute to socially and ecologically sustainable palm oil.

For more information please contact:
Alex Kaat
Communication Manager Wetlands International
tel: +31 (0)65060 1917

More information on our activities to protect Indonesian peatlands:

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