In tropical areas, palm oil contributes to an estimated 5% of tropical deforestation. Much of the expansion of palm oil harvesting occurs on land that was previously used for growing crops like coffee or rubber. Roughly half of all household items in the US are products that contain palm oil, from shampoo and cleaning solutions to food. According to the WWF, 300 football fields of rainforest are cleared hourly in Southeast Asia for palm oil. It’s expected to reach the B50 stage, a 50:50 blend, by 2025. “Move one step back, and then fix the management, raw material and production. Palm oil is the most widely traded vegetable oil on the planet, according to a study published on NCBI. It dated the clearing to between Jan. 11 and Feb. 24 this year. That moratorium,  imposed by President Joko Widodo in September 2018, is due to expire in September 2021. “So in my opinion, it can be guaranteed that the palm oil produced to become fuel [is sustainable] because it has to go through the [certification] procedure,” Sigit said. “Can [we] say which land the current biodiesel get its palm oil from? It's worth noting that the RSPO does have oil palm producers as stakeholders — though it has environmental organizations as stakeholders as well, in an effort to produce palm oil in both a lucrative and sustainable way. Here's Why It's So Important. And sustainability audits will not reveal labor issues. 2 producer. The corporate drivers of deforestation not only have massive influence over how their suppliers produce palm oil, soy, cocoa, pulp, paper, timber and beef, but also over each other. Do your own research on the RSPO (and other sustainable palm oil certification groups) before trusting their advice, since everyone has different comfort levels when it comes to supporting controversial industries. We aim to achieve this by using a robust engagement and evaluation process for measuring the progress of the major First Importers of palm oil into international markets. “The potential for renewable energy in Indonesia is not only from biodiesel, but also solar and wind,” Ricky said. Sigit Hargiyanto, the head of the biofuel department at the energy ministry, played down concerns that the biodiesel program would run out of palm oil. Eco-Anxiety Is Inspiring People to Make Changes in Their Lives, What Is the Paris Agreement? According to the WWF, humans have clear-cut 17 percent of the Amazon rainforest over the past five decades. Of the palm oil planted on deforested land, not all forest was primary forest before clearing. Yes — as mentioned above, palm oil typically comes from oil palm trees, known as Elaeis guineensis trees. Mongabay Series: Indonesian Forests, Indonesian Palm Oil. The deforestation was first detected in March 2020 by U.S.-based campaign organization Mighty Earth, which found 221 hectares (546 acres) of forest cleared in the concession of PT Medcopapua Hijau Selaras (MPHS), a subsidiary of the Jakarta-based Capitol Group. Palm Oil Deforestation Like GMO corn and soy, palm oil is produced on a massive scale of an estimated 50 million tons a year (about 30% of all vegetable oil), and has oozed its way into almost everything we use. Mongabay is a U.S.-based non-profit conservation and environmental science news platform. Because the palm oil industry has a stake in the RSPO, I take the organization's endorsements with a grain of salt. Today, the food giant still cannot document the source of almost a third of the palm oil it uses. “We have never heard complaints ... that the use of palm oil materials causes greater financial risk,” a … Some palm plantations were established in lands that were previously forested, but the real share of deforestation caused by palm oil plantations peaked in … Palm oil, aka palm kernel oil, is a type of vegetable oil, similar to canola oil, soybean oil, or grapeseed oil. Traction Asia researchers attribute this gap to the government’s failure to account for the inefficiency of oil palm plantations when setting its biodiesel targets. “If we don’t, there’s a likelihood for land conversion. Palm oil stakeholders, from sourcing organizations to environmental groups, have seen little progress in stemming deforestation, despite sustainability certifications in the palm oil market for more than a decade. Palm oil is used in everything from processed foods (such as ice cream, margarine, and cookies) to makeup to personal hygiene products (like shampoo and soap) to laundry detergent to biodiesel to animal feed, according to the WWF. Arkian Suryadarma, a forest campaigner at Greenpeace Indonesia, said it’s highly likely the biodiesel program will lead to deforestation. Every day, Mongabay reporters bring you news from nature’s frontline. “If all the focus is on biodiesel, then that’s a pity. According to WWF, a few ingredients that are sometimes (but not always) derived from palm oil include: Do you avoid buying products containing palm oil? But to do that, the total planted area of oil palms will have to be at least 22.7 million hectares (56 million acres), according to the new study by the University of Indonesia’s Institute for Economic and Social Research (LPEM UI). By 2000 they have been almost entirely cleared in Sulawesi , and predicted to disappear within few years in … Palm oil production is said to have been responsible for about 8% of the world's deforestation between 1990 and 2008. From January to October 2019, it again doubled the replanted area, to 68,427 hectares (169,086 acres), but hit just 38% of its target. The program is meant to both ease Indonesia’s dependence on crude oil imports and make the shift to so-called biofuel, which the government touts as a cleaner alternative to conventional fossil-fuel diesel. That’s why it’s very wrong if biodiesel is categorized as a renewable energy.”. The deforestation of a peat swamp forest for palm oil production in Indonesia. “This will create a deficit. The government is rolling out the program in stages, blending progressively higher concentrations of palm oil-derived biodiesel into conventional diesel. As a pretty easy first step, you can abstain from buying products that explicitly contain palm oil; you can also choose to support companies that state their products are certified palm oil-free; and finally, because palm oil is difficult to 100 percent avoid, you can work to lower the impact of your diet and purchases in other ways — for example, buy vegan, cruelty-free, and locally-made food and products whenever possible. The balance of about $55 million will come from biodiesel producers through an increase in export tariffs, effective May 1 next year. If the government were to maintain the program at B30 through 2025, or even lower the blend to B20, the need for new oil palm plantations wouldn’t be as great — 338,880 to 5.25 million hectares (837,400 to 13 million acres) — but would still entail a significant amount of deforestation. JAKARTA — An Indonesian government program to phase out diesel for an alternative made from palm oil could spur massive deforestation for palm plantations spanning an area a fifth the size of Borneo. This results in deforestation, destroying habitats of wild animals native to rainforests — namely, orangutans (as well as other primates, rhinos, elephants and tigers, according to the BBC). These oil crops were initially imported to South-East Asia over 100 years ago for ornamental reasons. Deforestation for palm oil has led countries to restrict imports of the edible oil, while labour concerns has seen the US block some Malaysian palm oil products. Palm oil is primarily harvested from palm trees that grow in rainforests — and as explained by Rainforest Rescue, developers often bulldoze or set fire to land in rainforests to make room for more palm oil plantations. The money will go toward subsidizing biodiesel prices at the pump. Palm oil is the most widely traded vegetable oil globally, with demand projected to increase substantially in the future. The conversion to date, and future expansion, threatens biodiversity and increases greenhouse gas emissions. Since its establishment in 2015 until 2019, the fund collected 47.2 trillion rupiah ($3.3 billion) in revenue, and gave 71% of it back to biodiesel producers — and less than 5% to small farmers for the replanting program. If that’s the case, then biodiesel will be much less friendly to the environment than diesel based on its emission that we count from the life-cycle analysis.”. While high yielding crops are generally pretty sustainable, that is not true in the case of palm oil. Palm oil is technically vegan, since it is completely plant-based and does not come from the body of animals. Contributing to only 2.3% of global deforestation, palm oil as a crop is not the biggest driver. Variations in global market prices of palm oil are closely linked to deforestation in areas which are geo-climatically best suited for growing oil palm and they amplify the importance of the political cycle. RSPO has developed a standard for sustainable #palmoil production, which includes:no #deforestationno fireno #childlabourWatch the video below and RT to demand #sustainablepalmoil pic.twitter.com/mh7K4IIezn. Not all Mars’ palm oil suppliers are yet deforestation-free throughout their entire operations, said Parkin, but they must be looking to achieve this within “a couple of years”. Dryness? Indonesia’s Palm Oil Association today questioned the CDP findings and said firms had adhered to domestic industry standards. As mentioned above, developers often torch and bulldoze areas of biodiverse rainforests to create palm oil plantations. He said it would ultimately be better for the government to scale back its ambitious biodiesel target to give itself time to improve productivity and sustainability in the industry. He also said deforestation fears were overblown, given that the palm oil used in biodiesel production must be certified sustainable, and that there’s a moratorium currently in place on issuing permits for new plantations. Additionally, numerous common label ingredients are derived from palm oil, but it's hard to tell based on the name. The crash in oil prices earlier this year forced the government to allocate a $195 million stimulus for the biodiesel program from the state budget. That’s why RAN follows the supply chain to influence the big brands you see on grocery store shelves. Some brands claim their products are made with sustainably-harvested palm oil — but considering how flawed the industry is, is that really possible? He also said deforestation fears were overblown, given that the palm oil used in biodiesel production must be certified sustainable, and that there’s a moratorium currently in place on issuing permits for new plantations. If this can be answered, I’m sure there’s not going to be a debate.”. This results in deforestation, destroying habitats of wild animals native to rainforests — namely, orangutans (as well as other primates, rhinos, elephants and tigers, according to the BBC). But the replanting program has consistently fallen short of its targets. “If we don’t export [palm oil] to them, then we can just use it for ourselves,” he said. One of the primary organizations that certifies sustainable palm oil is the non-profit Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). “There’s no need to be shy” about reducing the target, Ricky said. At this rate, Ricky said, it would be more feasible for the government to abandon the replanting program and start establishing new plantations with the higher-yield trees — a move that would threaten the country’s remaining carbon-rich rainforests. The organization only certifies products that use palm oil that does not directly cause deforestation, fires, and child labor. Banner image: Forest cleared to make way for palm oil plantation in Indonesia. Deforestation is one of the major sustainability challenges for the agri- and aquaculture sector. Sigit said there was a smear campaign underway against palm oil in the European Union and the U.S., two of Indonesia’s biggest export markets. While estimates vary, Indonesia lost about 289,000 acres of forest to palm oil production every year between 1995 and 2015, according to a 2017 study. He said the government expected palm oil exports to decline in the coming years, allowing for greater domestic supply of the commodity, including for the biodiesel program. That’s something the government must address to ensure truly sustainable palm oil production, he said. “Even if we keep replanting [existing plantations], we need a total of 3.8 million hectares [9.4 million acres],” he said. “That’s why there needs to be serious mitigation to hold back land expansion.”. “We’re not against biodiesel, but we don’t agree with biodiesel that’s not sustainable, not transparent and not traceable,” Ricky said. Palm oil and deforestation Palm plantations are reputed to be a major factor of deforestation. The organization adds that palm oil (including palm oil derivatives) can be found in nearly 50 percent of the packaged products in supermarkets. So, new tactics have come into use. However, because primates are often directly hurt by the palm oil industry, many vegans and environmentalists do their best to avoid palm oil — even though that is sometimes impossible, considering how many ingredients sneakily contain palm oil. “Soy and oil palm are major deforestation drivers, with over half a million hectares of rainforest, peatland and savannahs destroyed each year for the expansion of these crops,” writes Nutreco in a report outlining the new sourcing policy . Deforestation for palm oil has led countries to restrict imports of the edible oil, while labour concerns has seen the U.S. block some Malaysian palm oil products. Avoiding palm oil entirely is extremely difficult. Ricky also suggested the government broaden its focus to developing and scaling up other forms of renewable energy. Image by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay. If it’s too high, such as B40 or even B100, then it’s going to be difficult to fix [the industry].”. Although this is a lower projection than the ministry’s, it still represents an area two-thirds the size of Indonesia’s Java Island. If the palm oil industry is not an industry you'd like to support, there are a few tricks that may help you avoid palm oil (for the most part). Does Palm Oil Cause Deforestation? In 2010, Nestlé gave itself ten years to switch to 100% deforestation-free palm oil. If you try your best to shop ethically and sustainably, you've probably seen products that boast they are "palm oil-free" or claim that their palm oil was sustainably harvested. Almost all oil palm grows in areas that were once tropical moist forests, some of them quite recently. Indonesia's Palm Oil Association on Thursday questioned the CDP findings and said firms had adhered to domestic industry standards. Another study, by Traction Asia, warns that the low productivity of existing plantations and ambitious target of the biodiesel program could see demand outstrip supply by 2023. In 2019, Nestlé recorded over 1,000 cases of deforestation daily. Palm oil has become quite controversial over the past few years, as more and more people have learned about the industry, how it impacts the environment, and how it hurts primates. For one thing, some products that may contain palm oil are not required to list their ingredients, such as laundry detergent and biodiesel. #plantbased #GoVegan #vganghttps://t.co/8mFzTgv7Bk. Check out this piece by Amnesty International to learn about labor in the palm oil industry, and why sustainable palm oil claims are not always legitimate. “The biodiesel program is clearly not a solution for the country’s fiscal state and will worsen the implementation of Indonesia’s climate commitment because it is oriented toward deforestation and new land clearing in forest areas. This process releases the greenhouse gas CO2 into the atmosphere, all the while destroying animal habitats. So do its elephants, Activists in Malaysia call on road planners to learn the lessons of history, Road-paving project threatens a wildlife-rich reserve in Indonesia’s Papua. However, despite such widespread perceptions, palm plantations are responsible for only 3% of global deforestation. FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. Shara Ticku, founder of C16 Biosciences, one of the biotech firms pioneering a synthetic alternative, said in a statement that “over the past 30 years, 50% of palm oil plantation growth has come at the hands of deforestation of tropical forests and peatland”. In Indonesia and Malaysia, deforestation peaked decades ago and was already decreasing before palm oil started to take off. Read on for answers to some of the Internet's most-asked questions about palm oil, which should help you make an informed decision about whether it's something you want to continue consuming. The government has long sought to boost plantations’ productivity through a replanting program, replacing aging oil palms with higher-yielding varieties. 1 cause of orangutan extinction. Deforestation for palm oil has led countries to restrict imports of the edible oil, while labour concerns has seen the U.S. block some Malaysian palm oil products. An area of natural forest the size of 1,500 football fields has been cleared since January in an oil palm concession in Indonesia’s easternmost region of Papua by a company that ultimately supplies major traders and global brands. Especially since the government says it wants to develop electric vehicles. As the WWF explains, there are two types of palm oil: crude palm oil, which comes from squeezing the fleshy fruit; and palm kernel oil, which comes from crushing the kernel (aka stone) in the center of the fruit. Palm oil is the most commonly consumed vegetable oil in the world and can be found in around half of the packaged goods in supermarkets globally, ranging from staples (such as bread and noodles) via cosmetics (shampoo and lipsticks) to luxuries (ice cream and dessert). Actor Harrison Ford travels to Indonesia to learn why demand for palm oil in everyday products at the grocery store is driving massive deforestation. He also pointed to President Widodo’s recent courting of electric vehicle maker Tesla, in which he advertised Indonesia, with its rich deposits of nickel, as a potential global hub for the production of electric vehicles. 80 percent of that destruction is for cattle ranching (raising cows for meat and dairy), and the remaining 20 percent is to grow (and then cut down) trees to produce palm oil, paper products, wood, and more. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Found in everything from shampoo to donuts, palm oil is now the most common vegetable oil in the world—and also one of the world's leading deforestation drivers. Deforestation for palm oil has led countries to restrict imports of the edible oil, while labour concerns has seen the US block some Malaysian palm oil products. Palm oil leads to deforestation (Stock) In the past 16 years, the quest for palm oil has led to the death of an estimated 100,000 orangutans, according to research. According to Orangutan Foundation International, palm oil is the No. That's likely because it is one of the cheapest oils available, and it produces a high yield. For decades, palm oil production has been a driver of deforestation in tropical rainforests in countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia. Here’s Everything You Need to Know, Yes, You Can Rescue a Hypoallergenic Dog — 6 Tips for Adopting, Not Shopping, Eco-Friendly Gifts to Keep Things Zero Waste This Holiday Season, What Is Organic Farming? It is impossible to know if some ingredients are palm oil-derived, other ingredients and products do not disclose their ingredients, and restaurants may cook with palm oil. Palm oil is one of the most efficient and widely used vegetable oil that comes from the fruit of oil palm trees. The biodiesel transition program, the world’s most ambitious, will require 15 million hectares (37 million acres) of new oil palm plantations, according to Arifin Tasrif, the minister for energy and mines. Palm trees grow best in humid, tropical climates, and the trees grown and cut down for palm oil primarily grow in Southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa. If you value this objective and impact-driven journalism, please consider becoming a sustaining member. As mentioned above, developers often torch and bulldoze areas of biodiverse rainforests to create palm oil plantations. That moratorium,  imposed by President Joko Widodo in September 2018, is due to expire in September 2021. The total needed to keep the biodiesel program afloat is $250 million. Palm Oil Giant Wilmar Unfazed as Watchdogs Cry Foul over Papua Deforestation. “Unfortunately, the government only focuses on setting the target with no clear road map,” said Traction Asia research manager Ricky Amukti. Demand for palm oil has become increasingly controversial due to the commodity's role in driving deforestation, particularly in south-east Asia, including through devastating forest fires which in 2015 produced more carbon emissions that the entire daily emissions of the U.S. This biodiesel program was initially created to absorb excess crude palm oil production, but unfortunately it has become a boomerang as the [biodiesel blend] target kept being increased. In 2018, it more than doubled the replanted area, to 33,842 hectares (83,625 acres), but this represented just 18% of its much higher target that year. Indonesia's lowland tropical forests, the richest in timber resources and biodiversity, are most at risk. In fact, more than 80 percent of the world's palm oil grows in Malaysia and Indonesia (which are both located in Southeast Asia), according to Gro Intelligence. Much of the palm oil expansion is on land that was previous cropland such as coffee or rubber, especially in Latin America, Sumatra and peninsular Malaysia. A key reason the replanting program has fallen short is because its funding, raised through mandatory export tariffs slapped on palm oil companies, has largely gone toward subsidizing biodiesel production and sales, to make the fuel more competitive with conventional diesel. “That’s only to meet the need [for palm oil-derived biofuel] until 2025,” said Alin Halimatussadiah, the LPEM UI head. Speaking at a parliamentary hearing last month, he said that was how much new palm oil production would be needed to replace current oil consumption of a million barrels a day. 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Beef may pose a greater deforestation risk than other commodities such as palm oil and timber thanks to “extremely poor” efforts to trace where cattle are reared, according to a new report. “The biodiesel program needs lands for new oil palm plantations which could lead to massive deforestation,” he said. In 2017, the government was only able to replant 14,790 hectares (36,550 acres) of old plantations, or 71% of its target. He also noted that sustainability standards are routinely flouted within the palm oil industry in Indonesia due to a lack of transparency and traceability. The Palm Oil Transparency Coalition (POTC) is formed of businesses working together in a pre-competitive coalition to remove deforestation and exploitation from the palm oil production sector. A newly published study puts the figure of new plantations to supply the program at 9.3 million hectares (23 million acres). There are also many reports of the palm oil industry exploiting laborers and using child labour. The program is currently at the B30 stage, which means the diesel sold at the pump contains a 30% blend of palm oil-derived biodiesel. Our EIN or tax ID is 45-3714703. When news of the Amazon rainforest fires shook the world in August 2019, many people were shocked to find out the main causes of the fires. It comes from the fleshy fruit of palm trees — specifically, oil palm trees, aka the Elaeis guineensis tree, according to the WWF. Now, huge swathes of oil palm trees dominate the tropical landscape of South-East Asia, especially Indonesia and Malaysia, which make up over 85% of the global supply of palm oil. The export tariffs are collected by the state palm oil fund, known by its Indonesian acronym BPDP-KS. Additionally, oil palm plays a crucial role in driving deforestation dynamics. What was initially an oversupply will become a deficit.”. You may have also noticed some strong opinions on palm oil in the environmentalist community: some people refuse to eat any food or buy any cosmetics made with palm oil, while others will only buy "sustainable" palm oil, while others who are not bothered by palm oil at all. on palm oil and deforestation of rainforests (2016/2222(INI)) The European Parliament, – having regard to the 2015-2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), – having regard to the Paris Agreement reached at the 21st Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21), Traction Asia’s Ricky said that while it’s true palm oil exports might decline or be capped, consumption of palm oil for food and consumer products is expected to keep growing, and thus the risk of a deficit is still there. 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