Thursday, 26 February 2009

German group protests Indonesian peatland policy

By Susanne Retka Schill

Biodiesel Web exclusive posted Feb. 25, 2009,

German oilseed and biodiesel promoter, Union for Promoting Oilseeds and Proteinplants (UFOP), is criticizing Indonesia’s decision to drop its moratorium on palm oil production in peat areas and calling for stepped up efforts to certify sustainable biofuels.

“UFOP demands that internationally agreed and accepted certification systems be established as quickly as possible to ensure, at least, by identifying the origin of raw materials, the production of biomass for conversion to biofuel does not add to the release of greenhouse gases in excess of what is normal,” the UFOP said in a statement. “The decision of the Indonesian government confirms that the displacement effects can obviously not be controlled by certification systems. Therefore, talks between the EU and producing countries, such as Indonesia, on the use of land for the production of raw materials should start now.”

In protesting the Indonesia policy change, UFOP recalled the intense debate between the European Council and Parliament over the draining of peatlands prior to adopting the new Renewable Energy Directive. Peatland conversion is considered a prime source of carbon emissions, both in tropical regions where peatlands are drained for oil palm plantings and in Europe where peat soils are drained for farming.

UFOP also called for the petroleum industry as the largest users of biodiesel for blending to recognize its responsibility to ensure only sustainably produced biomass is the basis for biodiesel or hydrogenated vegetable oils used in co-refining. “UFOP is convinced that it cannot be tolerated that raw materials are produced by sustainable methods meeting high ecological and social standards in the European Union whereas exporting countries such as Indonesia are systematically undermining these efforts already now,” the promotional council said. “UFOP calls upon the petrol industry to give preference to indigenous or European Union produced biomass, such as rape seed, because this ensures that biofuels from sustainable biomass production are used.”