Palm Oil Phase-Out Will Make Deforestation Wide and Pollution/Emission Higher
Various attempts have been made by the European Union to hostile and inhibit the trade of palm oil in the EU countries. These efforts, in the form of a palm oil black campaign and policies, are made by the European Union. One of their policy issued by the European Union Commission regarding palm oil and its derivative products (especially biodiesel) by the EU Commission is contained in RED II-ILUC. In this policy, palm oil is classified as a high risk Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC). The implication of this policy is use change risk will be drastically reduced since 2020 and must be eliminated (zero percent) by 2030.
This policy also the European Commission considers that the negative impact arising from the indirect conversion of forest land into land for biodiesel feedstock is considered a “sin” for oil palm plants and palm oil producers must be held responsible for this. The policy is considered to discriminate with the obligation to phase-out palm oil in the EU biodiesel industry.
To fight discrimination against palm oil by the European Commission, the Indonesian government filed a lawsuit to the WTO. Currently, the lawsuit is still ongoing, but the Indonesian government is optimistic that it can win the lawsuit because the RED II ILUC policy is considered to be contrary to the attitude of the EU which always encourages free trade. With this victory in this lawsuit, it is expected to change EU policy by eliminating the status of palm oil as a high risk ILUC.
However, we need to know the paradigm contained in the EU policy, such as whether it is true that replacing palm oil to other vegetable oils or the phase out of palm oil is a solution that is pro-environmental or will cause more environmental damage.
FAO’s study (2013) found the fact that to produce one ton of soybean oil and rapeseed oil, inputs are used in the form of fertilizers (nitrogen and phosphate), pesticides/herbicides and energy which is greater than the use of inputs to produce one ton of palm oil. Along with the use of a lot of inputs, the production of soybean oil and rapeseed oil will also produce more output in the form of pollution/residue from the use of production inputs that are wasted to water/GHG emissions to the air compared to palm oil. This study also conclude that soybean oil and rapeseed oil producing are more wasteful in input use and polluting than palm oil. In other words, palm oil production is ecofriendly.
And then, the study become a basic to simulation of replacing palm oil as a scenario of phase out contained in the policy of RED II ILUC. Simulation result show that changing palm oil to soybean oil requires a larger additional input and will also have an impact on additional output in the form of residues and emissions resulting from soybean oil production. Additional pollution/residual production input to water or soil due to the replacement of palm oil into soybean oil are nitrogen of 81 million kilograms, phosphate of 63 million kilograms and pesticides of 67.8 million kilograms. Meanwhile, additional GHG emissions into the air are Nox of 10.5 million kilograms, SO2 of 5.4 million kilograms and CO2 of 17.7 million kilograms. In addition, the impact of substituting palm oil for soybean oil also increases global deforestation of 5.96 million hectares in producing and exporting countries, especially South America.
Likewise, replacing palm oil into rapeseed oil requires additional input, although it is not as large as the input used to produce soybean oil so that the additional residue and emissions are not as large as soybean oil. Additional pollution/residual production input to water or soil due to the replacement of palm oil into rapeseed oil are nitrogen of 15 million kilograms, phosphate of 33 million kilograms and pesticides of 25.8 million kilograms. Meanwhile, additional GHG emissions into the air are Nox of 900 thousand kilograms, SO2 of 300 thousand kilograms and CO2 of 5.7 million kilograms. The replacement of palm oil into rapeseed oil also has an impact on increasing global deforestation of 3.64 million hectares in rapeseed oil producing and exporting countries such as European countries.
The increase in pollution, emissions and deforestation due to the replacement of palm oil into soybean oil and rapesed oil is impact of palm oil phase-out due to implemented Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) as stated in the EU RED II policy. This means that the aims and objectives of the EU RED II policy to reduce ILUC emissions are in contrast to the impact resulting from replacing palm oil, namely increasing pollution, emissions and deforestation. In other words, the EU RED II policy by replacing palm oil has actually resulted in even more environmental damage in various countries in the world.
Based on this study, it indicates that the RED II ILUC policy by phasing-out palm oil, is not solely in the context of saving deforestation and biodiversity, but is considered a form of protection taken by the EU Commission to protect rapeseed oil (which is the main vegetable oil which produced by these countries) in competition with palm oil in the EU feedstock (biodiesel feedstock) market. Given that although the main feedstock in the EU biodiesel industry is rapeseed oil, its use rate has decreased. In contrast, the use of palm oil by the EU biodiesel industry has increased. This is because business actors prefer palm oil because of its cheaper price so that it is financially more profitable for them to use palm oil as a raw material for biodiesel.
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