The public pressure raised by amongst others NGO Wetlands International, resulted to an end of the support of the Dutch Government. Environment State Secretary Pieter van Geel, said that, now he knows the tremendous impact of palm oil production on global climate change and reforestation, he regrets supporting this form of energy. The Dutch parliament yesterday fully supported a policy change.
With 1,5 million tonnes a year, the Netherlands are currently the largest importer of palm oil in Europe, mostly for use as a biofuel for power plants. Globally the Netherlands take a fourth position, behind India, China and Pakistan. Energy company Essent has decided to stop using palm oil and to start a thorough investigation to the origin of their palm oil. Wetlands International is relieved with this decision and hopes that other companies that use palm oil, both in the Netherlands and abroad will follow. The organisation also calls for a policy change by other authorities supporting this biofuel, like the European Union.
Wetlands International supports the use of bio-fuels as an alternative to fossil fuels, as long as it can be proven that these bio-fuels are truly sustainable. At the moment this is certainly not the case. This conclusion was drawn from new research by Wetlands International, amongst others. About a quarter of palm oil originates from plantations on drained peatlands in South-east Asia, which were tropical peat swamps until recently. The rapidly increasing demand for palm oil is one of the driving forces behind this. Drainage of peatlands results in very rapid peat decomposition, causing carbon dioxide emissions of at least 10 times higher than when coals or mineral oil are used for energy production. Calculations show that degraded peatlands in South East produce carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to almost 8% of the total global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels.
To ensure environmental sustainability, the conversion and drainage of former peatland forests for the production of palm oil should be stopped. Instead, the energy sector should invest in restoration of peatland areas and should work with a clear certification scheme.
More information on our activities to protect Indonesian peatlands:
Or contact: Alex Kaat
Communication Manager Wetlands International
tel: +31 6 5060 1917
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