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MEPs call for clampdown on imports of unsustainable palm oil and use in biofuel

Deforestation in Malaysia for oil palm plantations

Press Release

Thursday 13 Apr 2017

Good News from Strasbourg. MEPs call for clampdown on imports of unsustainable palm oil. To counter the impact of unsustainable palm oil production, such as deforestation and habitat degradation, particularly in South-East Asia, the EU should introduce a single certification scheme for palm oil entering the EU market and phase out the use of vegetable oils that drive deforestation by 2020, say MEPs in a resolution voted on Tuesday, 4th April.

MEPs note that 46% of the palm oil imported by the EU is used to produce biofuels, requiring the use of about one million hectares of tropical soils. They call on the Commission to take measures to phase out the use of vegetable oils that drive deforestation, including palm oil, as a component of biofuels, preferably by 2020.

“This is Parliament’s first resolution on this issue and it is up to the Commission how it acts upon it. But we cannot ignore the problem of deforestation, which threatens the Global Agreement on Climate Change COP21 and UN Sustainable Development Goals”

They call on the Commission to take measures to phase out the use of vegetable oils that drive deforestation, including palm oil, as a component of biofuels, preferably by 2020.

Single certification scheme

MEPs note that various voluntary certification schemes promote the sustainable cultivation of palm oil. However, their standards are open to criticism and are confusing for consumers, they say. They advocate a single certification scheme to guarantee that only sustainably produced palm oil enters the EU market.

They also call on the EU to introduce sustainability criteria for palm oil and products containing palm oil entering the EU market. The Commission should improve the traceability of palm oil imported into the EU and should consider applying different customs duty schemes that reflect real costs more accurately until the single certification scheme takes effect.

MEPs also stress that a large part of the global production of palm oil is in breach of fundamental human rights and adequate social standards. It frequently uses child labour, and there are many land conflicts between local and indigenous communities and palm oil concession holders.

Notes

Sommer Report on Food Labelling 2010 – This report covered many aspects of food labelling, and also includes an example of a major piece of new legislation introduced by Nessa Childers. This ensured that palm oil, which is present in 40% of our food products, must now be labelled. The initiative was backed by the majority in the parliament and is now European law. This labelling allows NGOs to raise awareness among European consumers of the negative environmental and social effects of the deforestation and massive palm tree plantations in Asia.