Individual countries, regional authorities (like the EU) and international conventions should establish legislation and ensure credible certification to curtail imports of products from vulnerable peatland areas. For biofuels there should be a biofuel certification scheme with criteria that involve a full carbon account and that exclude biofuels produced in naturally carbon rich areas such as peatlands and forested (or recently deforested) areas. In addition, criteria must take account of impacts on globally important biodiversity, competition for land and water with food production, land rights, etcetera.
Remove perverse incentives
Current governmental subsidies and mandatory targets to stimulate green energy and fuels have caused a huge increase in palm oil imports from South-east Asia, thus the conversion and drainage of former peatland forests. Bio-fuels like palm oil should not qualify as “green energy” until effective and credible certification schemes are in established use, excluding palm oil derived from peatlands.
Improve practices existing plantations on peat
For plantations that already exist on peat, the sector should be forced or stimulated to apply best practices. After the lifecycle of the current palm oil tree stock the palm oil production on peat should be ended and restoration should be guaranteed afterwards by setting aside funds. Options or creating CO2 neutral enterprises could be the balancing of ongoing CO2 emissions from plantations on peat by compensatory rehabilitation measures for degraded peatlands elsewhere and stringent protection measures of remaining peat swamp forests.
During the lifecycle of the current palm plantation drainage should not go deeper than 60 centimetres. But even with best practices applied, palm oil is still worse in terms of green house gas emissions than fossil fuels. Hence, even then, no green label and supportive legislation should be applied.
One of the CKPP consortium members, Wetlands International, is a member of the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) with the aim to contribute to socially and ecologically sustainable palm oil.
See for more information:
- 24-07-08: Sciencexpress: Land Clearing and the Biofuel Carbon Debt
- 26-11-07: Press release: RSPO criteria need to go further
- 31-10-07: Press release: Netherlands exclude palm oil from support
- 25-09-07: Press release: EU risks fuelling climate change with biofuel target