Palm Oil Industry Help the World to Reduce Impact of Global Warming and Climate Change

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The dominant black campaign theme used by NGOs is the linking between oil palm plantation and palm oil industry are always blamed as the main contributors to the causes of increasing of Greenhouse Gasses (GHG) emision so due to global warming and global climate change. The accusation thrown by the anti-palm NGO is a black campaign to damage the image of palm oil in the eyes of consumers.

Based on the data, the accusation was proven to be false news. Olivier (2020) revealed that the largest global GHG emission concentrations were CO2 emissions and it’s origin from fossil fuel (coal, gas and fuel) production and consumption. The lies which are repeated and widely publicized by the NGOs, so reputed and accepted as truths become popular methods used by transnational and domestic NGOs. In fact, palm oil industry are able to present solutions to reduce GHG emissions so as to minimize the impacts arising from global warming and global climate change.

Same with other plants, oil palm is also a green plant that has role as as the “lungs” of the ecosystem, due to  the ability to photosynthesize by absorbing carbon dioxide from the earth’s atmosphere and producing oxygen to the earth’s atmosphere. Henson’s research in 1999, revealed that each ha of oil palm plantation absorbs a net 64.5 tons of carbon dioxide each year and produces about 18.7 tons of oxygen. Meanwhile, a forest’s net absorption amounts to about 42.4 tons of carbon dioxide each year and it produces about 7.1 tons of oxygen. This showed that oil palm plantation is superior to forests in the function of absorb carbon dioxide and produced oxygen.

According to Anicetus Wihardjaka, a researcher from the Indonesian Agricultural Environment Research Institute said that in the plantation sector, the contribution of emission gas absorption would be very real if abandoned areas could be planted with productive plants such as oil palm, rubber or sugar cane. If this is done, the effectiveness of the absorption of greenhouse gases will be even higher.

Besides, re-absorbing carbon dioxide as the main source of earth’s GHG emissions, the oil palm industry is also able to contribute to reducing or saving emissions through the provision of palm oil biofuels as sustainable energy and low carbon emissions. The oil palm industry is able to produce first generation biofuel energy  from palm oil, second generation of biofuel energy from oil palm biomass, and third generation of biofuel energy from POME.

Oil palm biofuel used as fossil energy alternative, which is as main source of carbon emission. Biodiesel (FAME) is one of the oil palm biofuel has been used  energy that has been developed and used by the people of Indonesia and other countries. Based on a study by the Eur-Lex (2009), revealed that palm oil biodiesel can saving about 62 percent of emissions lower than fossil fuel emissions. The capability of palm oil biodiesel to saving emissiins is higher than other vegetable biodiesel such as rapeseed biodiesel (45 percent), soy biodiesel (40 percent) and sunflower biodiesel (58 percent). Many scientific studies conducted by experts also show the ability to saving emissions by palm biodiesel ranging from 40-71 percent.

Calculation from Secretariat General National Energy Council (2019) showed that the use of biodiesel as an alternative to the use of fossil diesel in Indonesia has also been proven to be able to reduce GHG emissions. The implementation of B20 policy in Indonesia is able to reduce GHG emissions by 5.61 million tons of O2 eq and it is estimated can reduce of GHG emissions by 14.25 million tons of O2 eq will be achieved when the implementation of the B30 in 2020.

As the innovation of Katalis Merah Putih, Indonesia Government also preparing the development of palm oil based biohydricarbon or greenfuel namely green diesel, green gasoline and green avtur, which has ability to subsitute tha use of fossil energy. This showed that Indonesia’s has strong effort to contribute to greater reduction in GHG emissions.

Besides producing first generation biofuel energy, oil palm plantations also produce second generation energy namely bioethanol, biopellet, biogas/bio-electricity, biobara. This second generation energy is considered more sustainable and it is able to minimize the fuel-food trade-off. This energy is produced from the processing of biomass or palm dry matter in the form of empty fruit bunches, shells and fruit fibers, stems and midribs.

The palm oil industry also presents third generation biofuel energy as an alternative energy with higher sustainable degree and low emissions through the use of POME. Palm Oil Mill Effluent (POME) is liquid waste from palm oil processing, which is also a main source of emissions at the plantation and processing (PKS). The processing of POME can generated biogas/bioelectricity and algae biodiesel.

The uniqueness of  the biofuel from oil palm that is able to be produced jointly and does not replace each other (trade-off). The huge potential for renewable energy alternatives and low emissions produced in the form of first, second and third generation, showed the large contribution of the palm oil industry to saving and reducing GHG emissions. So that it is expected to minimize global warming and climate change.

Tema kampanye negatif yang dominan diusung para LSM anti sawit adalah pengkaitan perkebunan sawit dan industri sawit yang dituduh sebagai penyebab utama dari meningkatnya emisi Gas Rumah Kaca (GRK) sehingga menyebabkan pemanasan global dan perubahan iklim global. Tuduhan LSM anti sawit tersebut bertujuan untuk merusak citra minyak sawit di mata konsumen.

Berdasarkan data, tuduhan tersebut terbukti berita bohong. Olivier (2020) mengungkapkan bahwa konsentrasi emisi GRK terbesar di atmosfer bumi adalah emisi CO2, dan sebagian besar emisi karbon tersebut berasal dari produksi dan konsumsi energi fosil (batu bara, gas bumi dan minyak fosil). Kebohongan yang disampaikan oleh LSM anti sawit secara berulang kali dan dipublikasikan secara meluas sehingga dianggap dan diterima sebagai suatu kebenaran menjadi cara-cara yang populer di-tempuh LSM transnasional maupun domestik. Faktanya, kebun sawit mampu menghadirkan solusi untuk mengurangi emisi GRK sehingga dapat meminimalisir dampak yang ditimbulkan dari pemanasan global dan perubahan iklim global.

Sama seperti tumbuhan lainnya, kelapa sawit juga merupakan tumbuhan hijau yang berperan sebagai “paru-paru” ekosistem karena memiliki kemampuan berfotosintesis dengan menyerap karbon dioksida dari atmosfer bumi dan menghasilkan oksigen ke atmosfer bumi. Penelitian Henson (1999) menyebutkan bahwa secara netto satu hektar kebun sawit mampu menyerap 64.5 ton karbon dioksida dan memproduksi 18.7 ton oksigen setiap tahunnya. Sementara itu, satu hektar hutan secara netto hanya mampu menyerap sekitar 42.4 ton karbon dioksida dan menghasilkan oksigen sekitar 7.1 ton. Hal ini menunjukkan bahwa perkebunan kelapa sawit lebih unggul daripada hutan dalam fungsi penyerapan karbon dioksida dari atmosfer bumi dan produksi oksigen.

Menurut Anicetus Wihardjaka, peneliti dari Balai Penelitian Lingkungan Pertanian mengatakan bahwa dalam sektor perkebunan, kontribusi penyerapan gas emisi akan sangat nyata jika areal-areal terlantar dapat ditanami dengan tanaman produktif seperti kelapa sawit, karet atau tebu. Jika hal tersebut dilakukan maka efektivitas penyerapan gas rumah kaca pun akan lebih tinggi lagi.

Selain menyerap kembali karbon dioksida sebagai sumber utama emisi GRK bumi, industri sawit juga mampu berkontribusi untuk menurunkan atau menghemat emisi melalui penyediaan biofuel sawit sebagai energi berkelanjutan dan rendah emisi karbon. Industri sawit mampu menghasilkan energi biofuel generasi pertama (biodiesel dan greenfuel) dari minyak sawit, energi biofuel generasi kedua (biopremium/biogasoline/bioethanol, biopelet, biogas/biolistrik, biobara) dari biomassa sawit, dan energi biofuel generasi ketiga (biogas/biolistrik dan biodiesel algae) dari POME.

Biofuel sawit digunakan sebagai altenatif energi fosil yang selama ini menjadi sumber GRK utama. Biodiesel (FAME) adalah salah sati biofuel sawit yang telah dikembangkan di digunakan baik di Indonesia maupun seluruh dunia. Berdasarkan kajian Eur-Lex (2009), mengungkapkan biodiesel sawit mampu menghemat emisi sekitar 62 persen lebih rendah dibandingkan dengan emisi yang dihasilkan dari fosil. Kemampuan biodiesel sawit tersebut juga lebih tinggi dibandingkan biodiesel nabati lain seperti biodiesel rapeseed (45 persen), biodiesel kedelai (40 persen), dan biodiesel bunga matahari (58 persen). Banyak kajian ilmiah yang dilakukan para ahli juga menunjukkan kemampuan penghematan emisi oleh biodiesel sawit  berkisar sebesar 40-71 persen.

Perhitungan Secretariat General National Energy Council (2019) menunjukkan bahwa penggunaan biodiesel sebagai alternatif penggunaan solar/diesel fosil di Indonesia juga terbukti mampu menurunkan emisi GRK. Kebijakan B20 yang diterapkan Indonesia mampu menurunkan emisi GRK sebanyak 5.61 juta ton O2 eq dan diperkirakan penurunan emisi GRK sebesar 14.25 juta ton O2 eq akan tercapai seiring dengan implementasi kebijakan B30.

Seiring ditemukannya Katalis Merah Putih, Pemerintah Indonesia juga sedang menyiapkan pengembangan biohidrokarbon atau greenfuel berbasis sawit yaitu green diesel, green gasoline dan green avtur yang dapat mensubsitusi penggunaan energi fosil. Hal ini menunjukkan upaya Indonesia untuk turut berkontribusi terhadap penurunan emisi GRK semakin besar.

Selain menghasilkan energi biofuel generasi pertama, kebun sawit juga menghasilkan energi generasi kedua. Energi generasi kedua ini dianggap lebih berkelanjutan dan mampu meminimalisir trade-off fuel-food. Energi ini dihasilkan dari pengolahan biomassa atau bahan kering sawit berupa tandan kosong, cangkang dan serat buah, batang dan pelepah.

Industri minyak sawit juga kembali menghadirkan energi biofuel generasi ketiga sebagai alternatif energi dengan derajat sustainable yang lebih tinggi dan rendah emisi yakni melalui pemanfaatan POME. Palm Oil Mill Effluent (POME) merupakan limbah cair dari pengolahan kelapa sawit yang dikenal juga sebagai sumber emisi utama pada tingkat perkebunan dan pengolahan (PKS). Pengolahan POME dapat menghasilkan biogas/biolistrik dan biodiesel algae.

Uniknya biofuel yang mampu dihasilkan oleh industri sawit tersebut, diproduksi secara bersama (joint product) dan tidak saling menggantikan (tradeoff). Besarnya potensi alternatif energi terbarukan dan rendah emisi yang dihasilkan baik berupa generasi pertama, kedua dan ketiga, menunjukkan besarnya kontribusi industri sawit dalam menghemat dan menurunkan emisi GRK sehingga diharapkan dapat meminimalisir pemanasan global dan perubahan iklim yang terjadi.

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