EU timeline for phasing out palm oil in biofuels is disastrous

"We believe the EU decision is a step in the right direction, but react strongly to what we believe is an unacceptably slow transition away from palm oil and the associated massive forest loss in Indonesia and Malaysia. We also have grave concerns for the human rights violations that often accompany palm oil production", says RFN spokesperson Nils Hermann Ranum.

RFN: transition away from palm oil and the associated massive forest loss in Indonesia and Malaysia "unacceptably slow".

After an all- night session, the EU reached a compromise regarding the EU’s renewable energy policy on 14 May. A central element of the agreement is that palm oil-based biofuels will be phased out by 2030.

Nils Hermann Ranum, head of policy and campaign department of Rainforest Foundation Norway (RFN), said:
“The EU has understood that palm oil is unsuitable as fuel in cars. This is a step forward. However, the EU has given itself 12 years to phase out this destructive fuel, which is totally unacceptable. A lot of rainforest will be destroyed by the palm oil industry in the intervening 12 years. It beggars belief that the EU will now continue using palm oil based fuels and contribute to this destruction until 2030.”

A recent report (Report: Driving Deforestation) by RFN and Cerulogy show that should the current and proposed targets for future consumption of biofuels be implemented without strong measures against using palm oil feedstock, biofuel driven demand for palm oil in 2030 could be more than six times higher than today – a total of up to 67 million tonnes. This would exceed today’s total global production of palm oil.

“Biofuel policies around the world are driving deforestation and increased greenhouse gas emissions, and are a social and environmental disaster. Our calculations show that 4.5 mill ha of rainforests and peat land, equal to the size of the Netherlands, may be destroyed due to biofuel policies until 2030. This would result in 7 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions over the next 20 years”, said Ranum.


In producing countries, the reaction of Indonesian NGOs is also a disappointed one.

Franky Samperante, Director of the Indonesian NGO Pusaka, said:
“We would have preferred that the EU follow the vote of the Parliament to phase out palm oil from renewable energy targets in 2021 and not wait until 2030. The EU decision will not push Indonesia to make the necessary changes in its palm oil industry which 236 community leaders and smallholders have asked for in a recent joint open letter, namely that it must not lead to human rights violations for indigenous peoples, smallholders, farmers and local communities.”

In May 2018 hundreds of Indonesian leaders of indigenous communities, farmers’ unions, smallholder organizations, human rights groups and environmental NGOs signed an open letter to the EU Presidency, Europe’s Heads of State and the President of the Republic of Indonesia against the use of palm oil in biofuels.

For further quotes, background or contacts:
Nils Hermann Ranum, Head of policy and campaign department