The European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) approved this morning a set of recommendations to the European Commission for the responsible cultivation of palm oil and the phasing out of its use for biofuels.

The report had been prepared by GUE/NGL MEP Kateřina Konečná, focussing on the extensive use of palm oil in food, cosmetics and biofuels – with resulting deforestation, loss of natural habitats and greenhouse gas emissions.

Commenting on the outcome, Konečná said that there was broad consensus in the Committee in supporting her report:

“All shadows expressed a significant willingness to make this a priority issue and were able to work constructively to make the recommendations strong, I am very grateful for their support.”

The Czech MEP highlighted the main aspects of her report:

“Biofuels are the sticking point as 46 per cent of the palm oil imported to the EU is intended for energy production. Indonesia is losing its precious rainforests to feed our addiction and at the end, we will all be losers.”

“According to scientific studies, biodiesel from palm oil has three times the amount of emissions of conventional diesel. We therefore call on the Commission to phase out the use of palm oil as a component of biodiesel by 2020,” Konečná urged.

“The issue of palm oil is very complex and has several ramifications. It is not just about the environment but includes issues of development, forced labour, indigenous rights, social problems, soil erosion and so on. Large multinationals play a big role in fostering these problems and they must take responsibility.”

But rather than looking for scapegoats, the GUE/NGL rapporteur was keen on trying to find solutions:  

“We would like to create an open debate for all actors involved in the production, distribution and consumption of palm oil and its derivatives in order to find answers to the problem of sustainable palm oil production. The protection of our forests and human rights are at stake.”

“This is why we involved NGOs, representatives of the sectors and the main certification body – the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil – in the development of the report. This is a truly balanced and practical report with strong recommendations that we want to see the Commission pursue.”

On 6th September 2016, GUE/NGL hosted at the European Parliament a discussion with stakeholders on the “threats of palm oil production.” The event report and key conclusions can be found here.

“We cannot ignore the problem of deforestation and indigenous rights since it threatens the Paris Agreement (COP21) and UN Sustainable Development Goals. The approval of this report in the Committee is only the beginning of a long road,” the Czech MEP concluded. 

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