Munich, 5. July 2013 – the environmental protection organization greenpeace wants to use 15 diesel fuel samples from hamburg, munich and berlin to show that the proportion of palm oil in the fuel has tripled since 2011. Conservationists want to draw attention to the fact that the government-imposed biofuel quota is leading to the depletion of the rainforest.
The disadvantage of oil from the earth’s sunbelt, apart from its long transport distances, is the creation of new plantations. This means the destruction of native forests and the release of co2 and methane from the peaty soil, which is out of all proportion to the co2 savings from biofuels. In addition, slash-and-burn fires, such as those that caused catastrophic air pollution in southeast asia in late june, are occurring. Hundreds of the fires that have dangerously affected air quality in sumatra, singapore and parts of malaysia were and are located in licensed oil palm growing areas, according to greenpeace.
Only slash and burn for oil palm is undisputed
Gesche jurgens, greenpeace’s forestry expert, explains the increased proportion of tropical oils in fuel as a capacity bottleneck: "rapeseed cultivation in this country is not sufficient to produce enough plant oil for food production and the prescribed biofuel quantities". When the biofuel quota was introduced in 2007, the legislature had ared that the certification of biofuels would mean that only oils grown on former fallow land or from sustainable cultivation would be used. A greenhouse gas saving of at least 35 per cent must be proven compared with fossil fuels.
The association of biofuel producers points out that the proportion identified as palm oil comes largely from the recycling of coconut oil and palm oil from deep-frying and frying. In addition, their percentage is higher in summer because the admixture of such oils is prohibited in winter due to the risk of saponification. Vdb executive director elmar baumann said: "greenpeace completely overlooks the fact that used cooking oil – for example, used frying fat – is also recorded as palm oil in the laboratory". Which, of course, doesn’t change the fact that it may be tropical plant oil that has bypassed the sustainability regulations and ended up in the tank.