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Finland proposes loophole in EU renewables legislation on peatlands

09-Dec-2008

Huge areas of the world’s peatlands will be opened up for biofuel production if Finland and Sweden succeed in opening up a new loophole in EU legislation.

What - 95% of peatland will be unprotected from biofuels development,
risking huge carbon emissions

Who – Finland and Sweden backed by French Presidency

When – final meeting this afternoon of EU decision makers (Trialogue)

Finland, backed by Sweden propose at the final stage of negotiations about the new renewable energy directive that only undrained peatlands should qualify for protection from biofuels development. However, 95% of the relevant peatland areas have already been drained to some extent. Increased drainage for biofuel production will result in massive additional releases of greenhouse gases. As huge carbon stores, peatlands should be excluded from any such cultivation.

The Renewable Energy Directive sets targets for renewable transport fuels use including biofuels yet it is essential that these result in savings not greater emissions of carbon.

Facts:

  • 95% of Indonesian, Malaysia and also Finish and Swedish peatlands are already drained to some extent and would thus be unprotected
  • Peatlands are the most important areas for biofuel expansion in these countries.
  • Peatlands are huge carbon stores. The drained peatlands cover less than 0.5% of the global land surface but are responsible for over 11% of global emissions.
  • These should be restored instead of more drained for biofuel production like palm oil or wood.
  • Biofuel production will lead to further, deeper drainage, causing huge additional emissions.
  • Palm oil for instance demands drainage of more than 60 cm, leading to emissions of 60-100 ton CO2/ha/yr
  • 50% of all new palm oil plantations are on peatlands (Malaysia, Indonesia)
  • Per hectare around 3-5 ton palm oil is produced, making this ‘biofuel’ up to 9 times more polluting compared to conventional fuels.

More information:
Wetlands International
Alex.kaat@wetlands.org
+31 6 50601917

Note to editors:
Proposed criterion in the EU renewable energy directive:
"15.4a (new). Biofuels and other bioliquids taken into account for the purposes referred to in paragraph 1 shall not be made from raw material obtained from land that was peatland in January 2008, unless it is proven that the cultivation and harvesting of this raw material does not involve drainage of the soil."

Finland supported by Sweden are now jeopardising this proposed EU law by inserting the two words "previously undrained" in the text just before the word "soil".

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