Stop the use of palm oil as a biodiesel in Europe!

In the wake of the biofuels boom, there has been a rush to chop down rainforests to make way for palm oil plantations. The UN has stated that the growth in such plantations is now the main cause of rainforest destruction in Malaysia and Indonesia [1].

In further alarming developments, the European Commission and some EU member states hope to redefine palm oil plantations as "forests," according to a recently leaked document from the EU executive. By doing so, a change from forest to oil palm plantation would not per se constitute a breach of the EU sustainability criterion for biofuel production.

This Care2 Petition aims to get as many people as possible to sign the petition against the EU Commission classifying palm oil plantations as "forests" and forcing unsustainable biodiesel from palm oil on EU countries.

[1] The last stand of the Orangutan, United Nations Environment Program, 2007.
We the undersigned have been alarmed by a draft commission communication that has classified palm oil monoculture plantations as "forests" in order that biodiesel from palm oil plantations can meet EU biofuels sustainability criteria.

The draft document states that "a change from forest to oil palm plantation would not per se constitute a breach of the criterion because palm oil plantations can be defined as continuously forested areas." This is a notably flawed contention as real rainforests in the biggest palm oil-producing countries of Malaysia and Indonesia are rich in rare wildlife and medicinal plants and perform critical ecosystem services. Significantly, about 90 per cent of a real forests flora and fauna are lost when the land is converted to monoculture plantations. 

Furthermore, transforming ecosystems into monocultural palm oil plantations contributes heavily to climate change. Rainforests are clear-cut and burned, and carbon-rich peat swamps are drained and burned. Deforestation accounts for a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions and is the primary reason that Indonesia and Brazil are now the world's third and fourth largest greenhouse gas polluters.

Before any targets for biodiesel consumption within the EU are set in place, there is an urgent need to implement sustainable land-use policies in the countries where palm oil is produced in order to reduce the risk of land with recognised high conservation value or high carbon stocks being converted to grow biofuel feedstock. There is the further need of the acceptance of concrete rules under the WTO of obligatory sustainable biofuel certification that takes stock of net greenhouse gas balance, biodiversity protection and protection of the local environment.

President, we urge you to ensure the amendment of this draft communication and to commit to a moratorium on the use of palm oil as a biodiesel within the EU to guarantee that unsustainable palm oil production does not contribute to the EU's renewable energy targets.
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