22 October 2007. he Dutch minister Ms. J. Cramer has decided to exclude palm oil for two years from all subsidies that other green energies will receive. The reasons for this exclusion are the doubts and questions regarding the sustainability of palm oil. The devastating impact of palm oil plantations on the valuable peatswamp forests of Indonesia was highlighted.
Wetlands International welcomes the decision by Minister Cramer. Last year the organisation presented figures on the huge impact of peatland degradation in South-east Asia on climate change. Palm oil production for the growing demand of biofuels is one of the driving forces behind this. European biofuel policies and support schemes are partly to blame for the rapid expansion of unsustainable palm oil plantations in South-east Asia causing the demise of large expanses of tropical rainforest and especially huge carbon emissions from tropical peatlands as a result of drainage and fires.
After Wetlands International presented its research report PEAT-CO2 in December 2006; the former Dutch minister for Environment expressed his regret for supporting palm oil so far. Wetlands International now welcomes this formal ban on new subsidies for palm oil, laid down in new legislation.
The ban on support for palm oil can be lifted as soon as the sector is able to develop a clear certification scheme that guarantees the fulfillment of sustainability criteria. Such criteria must involve a full carbon account and exclude palmoil produced on peatlands and recently deforested areas. In addition, criteria must take account of social issues. 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.
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