JOURNAL MONITOR EDITION 9 : PALM OIL INDUSTRY AS PART OF THE GLOBAL WARMING AND CLIMATE CHANGE SOLUTION
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Indonesia’s oil palm plantations and palm oil industry are always blamed as the main contributors to global warming and global climate change. The accusation thrown by the anti-palm oil NGOs is a black campaign to damage the image of palm oil in global consumers. Based on existing data, the allegations proved hoax news. In fact, oil palm plantations are able to present solutions to reduce GHG emissions so it can minimize the impacts arising from global warming and global climate change.
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. 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.
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 (biodiesel and greenfuel) from palm oil, second generation of biofuel energy (bioethanol, biopellet, biogas/bio-electricity, biobara) from oil palm biomass, and third generation of biofuel energy (biogas/biolistrik and algae biodiesel) 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 Euro 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, soy biodiesel and sunflower biodiesel. Many scientific studies conducted by experts also show the ability to saving emissions by palm biodiesel ranging from 40-71 percent
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.