Save Our Earth : Campaigning to save the Tropical Rainforests

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Campaign Action: Climate Conundrum as Biofuel Threatens Rainforests

Submitted by (Dr Glen Barry)
Started on 08/10/2005
Status: CLOSED

To meet Kyoto protocol commitments, various European and other governments are encouraging the use of biomass as fuel (biofuel) in transport and electricity. Biofuels are mostly carbon neutral, and switching from fossil fuels to biodiesel is promoted as a solution to climate change. Rainforests will be threatened by increased demand for agricultural products to be raised on once forested lands, and by use of forest biomass as a fuel. An unregulated rush to biofuels will lead to more natural rainforest loss and fragmentation, increased pressures upon endangered primary forests, and more monoculture, herbicide laden and genetically modified tree plantations.

Two important tropical crops suitable as biofuels include palm oil, grown mostly in Southeast Asia, and soya oil largely from South America. Both are already amongst the world's major causes of tropical forest destruction and further stimulation of their markets will surely result in massive and irreversible new losses of tropical rainforests and savannas. Largely to meet demand for biofuel, the Indonesian government announced in July 2005 the development of the largest palm oil plantation in the world which will clear the "Heart of Borneo". This will further deteriorate ecosystems that provide habitats for the already endangered Orang Utan and many other species. There exists an opportunity to influence European imports of oil palm in particular, as the European Commission is currently studying the matter. Clearly Europe and world should invest more strongly in energy from wind and sun, not in carelessly creating, stimulating and subsidizing new international palm oil and soya export markets. Western countries must do better than destroying tropical rainforests to meet their Kyoto goals.

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Document last updated on Tuesday 30 August 2011

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