Here’s a video first published by Greenpeace in Germany on Facebook. Here’s a screenshot:
An area half the size of Paris, which used to look like this in Irian Jaya, the Indonesian province once known as West Papua:
A New Scientist article by Michael Le Page tells us, it’s not just for food, it is also for the cars of Europe:
Under European rules… 10 per cent of transport energy is supposed to come from renewable sources by 2020. To meet this target, countries are blending biofuels like palm-oil biodiesel with conventional fuels.
Here’s their shock image:
Europe imports 7 million tonnes of palm oil annually, half of which goes to biofuel. Worldwide 65 million tonnes are produced, 20 per cent of which goes to biofuel. This is the foreshadowed high biofuel use scenario:
And here are the implications for CO2 emissions:
Those graphs were adapted from a Norwegian report Driving deforestation.
Palm oil produces five times more oil per hectare than rapeseed. However, it produces much higher CO2 emissions, so it would be better to use five acres of disused agricultural land for rapeseed.
Using palm-oil biodiesel triples emissions versus burning fossil fuels, based on figures compiled for the EU.
- This shocking figure isn’t only from burning the fuel, but also from the burning of rainforests to grow oil palm, which releases lots of carbon. What’s more, there are vast stores of peat under many rainforests, which when drained decompose and can release carbon for decades.
The European parliament has voted to end subsidies for palm-oil biodiesel from 2020, but the vote has no force. It is not clear what is going to happen.
When a food commodity is used for fuel the price of the food rises. There is also the destruction of habitat to be considered, not least the orangutan, which exist in the wild only in Borneo and Sumatra, provinces of Malaysia and Indonesia. These two countries between them produce 90 per cent of the world’s palm oil.
Obviously it would be vastly better for the environment to use electric cars. Indeed solar energy would produce vastly more energy from the same area than palm oil. Photosynthesis is a marvel of nature, but is unbelievably inefficient
Meanwhile Indonesia is already using palm oil to mix with aviation fuel, and has a research program to use more. This could be an even bigger driver of deforestation than biofuels used for road transport.