Indonesia is burning the image of sustainable certified biodiesel

UFOP criticises lack of action on the part of the Indonesian government

Berlin, 25st June 2013 – Notwithstanding the international discussion concerning indirect land use changes meanwhile also in conjunction with the biofuel policies of the European Union, the Indonesian government remains inactive in the face of the slash-and-burn threats currently destroying the rainforest.

In view of current news revealing slash-and-burn deforestation on Sumatra, the Union zur Förderung von Oel- und Proteinpflanzen e. V. (UFOP) has come to the opinion that the Indonesian government could not care less about the discussion in regard to sustainability requirements for the use of palm oil in the production of biofuels. The UFOP points out that the Indonesian government already revoked the moratorium with respect to the extension of agricultural land for palm oil production on peat lands in 2009 in the light of the discussion regarding the Renewable Energies Directive. The drainage of these areas is a prerequisite for the cultivation of palm oil plantations. Slash-and-burn methods and the loss of humus associated with this result in a significant CO2 accumulation in the atmosphere. That makes Indonesia the third biggest greenhouse gas emitter after the USA and China.

The UFOP renews its demand that market access to raw material or biofuel imports from countries that both wish to participate in the promotion in the European Union while, at the same time, appearing clearly disinterested in observing the principles for sustainable biomass production anchored in the Renewable Energies and Fuel Quality Directive, be linked to strict requirements or even denied.

It cannot be the case, states the Association,  that European oilseed producers with iLUC factors, i.e. a virtual and scientifically unproven surcharge in the greenhouse gas balance, are to be penalised with palm oil methyl ester being imported in the summer months as a cheaper element to fulfil quotas.

The UFOP urges the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers to introduce a calculation of the iLUC factors relating to the causal agent in the current consultations regarding the Commission’s proposals to change biofuel policies. At the same time, bilateral meetings must be initiated between the EU and the relevant states such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Brazil, while introducing an effective rainforest protection to accompany this. Not a single hectare of rainforest is saved with iLUC factors, stresses the UFOP.

The UFOP points out that the use of palm oil for energy purposes accounts for only around 3 to 5 percent of world production of approx. 51 million tonnes. Biofuel policies could therefore provide important leverage in order to take all forms of use into account, including utilisation in oleochemicals and the food industry.

The inactivity of the Indonesian government also confirms that slash-and-burn deforestation cannot be prevented solely with certification systems and the announcement of iLUC factors. The UFOP therefore regards, in particular, the mineral oil industry as the primary consumer in the obligation. It cannot be the case that biomass is produced under high environmental and social standards in the European Union while, on the other hand, export countries such as Indonesia clearly and systematically dodge these requirements. Consequently, the UFOP calls on the mineral oil industry in particular to initially revert to domestic or European raw material or biodiesel production. Only in this way can it be ensured that biofuels originate from sustainable raw material production for apportionment to the quota obligation.