EU calls for ban on vegetable oils in biofuel
By Brian Collett—The EU is on course to ban vegetable oils, including palm oil, in all biofuel.
Members of the European Parliament have called for the ban on the grounds that vegetable oil farming has destroyed vital ecological areas, violated human rights and hiked food prices.
Altogether 97 per cent of members backed a resolution demanding a phase-out by 2020. The measure now requires the European Commission’s approval.
The EU favoured vegetable oil-based biofuel as a petroleum alternative a decade ago.
Its stance shifted after reports that vegetable oil farming had caused rampant deforestation and the loss of a million hectares, or about 4,000 square miles, of tropical soil in countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia.
Worker exploitation and child labour have been linked to the clearing work and the farming, and some destroyed forests were the habitat of endangered animal species.
One study calculated that the net result, including the disappearance of peatlands and forests, was that biodiesel from vegetable-based oils on average produced 80 per cent more emissions than fossil fuels.
In the US some opponents have made the case that using land for fuel crops has raised the price of food and animal feed.
Ironically, opposition in the US has created a common cause for environmental critics of fuel crops and oil companies represented by the American Petroleum Institute.