The social and environmental impacts of EU palmoil policies
The rising demand within the EU for agricultural commodities such as palm oil has serious impacts on the main producing countries of South-East Asia in which tropical forests must give way to growing palm-oil plantations. Besides the deforestation, which leads to a great loss of natural habitats and endangered species, palm oil production also affects (due to the release of CO2) the climate and triggers social and economic conflicts.
As the third largest market for palm oil, the EU carries a global responsibility in addressing these impacts. A European Parliament report from 2017 shows some alarming figures about the EU´s import of products that are often the result of illegal deforestation: around half of the area of forests cleared illegally was used for palm oil production for the EU market.
How can the EU ensure that its energy and trade legislation does not cause unintended impacts on deforestation, and includes better social and ecological safeguards in producer countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia? What policy instruments should or could be used to prevent the use of palm oil and other vegetable oils as biofuel feedstock?
Currently the EU is in the process of revising its rules on renewable energy, including the sustainability criteria it applies to biofuels. As a part of this process, the European Parliament voted last month to end incentives for the use of palm oil biodiesel in the EU. Will the vote of the EU Parliament also lead eventually to a legal ban of palm oil? Should the EU apply stricter standards in its policy and trade instruments, for example anti-deforestation provisions or reforms to customs duties?
Sascha Müller-Kraenner (CEO DUH) and Radostina Primova (hbs) will welcome you and present NGO views of the subject fill you in the upcoming EU policy process. The discussion will then start with the presentation of a report commissioned by DUH and WWF on how the EU Renewable Energy Directive and its biofuel provisions could be reformed on a member states level.
The major challenges addressed by the report will be illustrated by a case study commissioned by the Heinrich Boell Stiftung on the impact of EU biofuel policies on the Indonesian palm oil sector and its social and environmental implications. The study explores the relevant legal landscape in Indonesia as it relates to the industry, which has had a long history of being criticised for human rights violations and deforestation, and to the increasing global demand for palm oil and the desire for jobs in rural areas.
The presentations will be followed by an interactive discussion with EU policy-makers, industry representatives, civil society and think tanks.
Venue: Press Club Brussels Europe, Rue Froissart 95, 1000 Bruxelles
Time: 9:00 - 9:30 am – registration and breakfast
9:30 - 11:00 am – presentation of reports and discussion
- Uwe Fritsche, International Institute for Sustainable Analyses (IINAS), author of the study “No Palm Oil for Biofuels - Policy recommendations for a ban on using palm oil for producing biofuels”
- Sisilia Nurmala Dewi, co-author of the Case Study of Palm Oil for Biofuels in Indonesia “The Road from Paris to Sustainable Development: Effectively Integrating Human Rights and Gender Equality into all EU Climate Action”
- Jo Leinen, Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, EP (tbc)
- Representative of Indonesian Government (tbc)
- Anke Schulmeister, WWF EPO
Sascha Müller-Kraenner (CEO DUH) and Radostina Primova (hbs EU)