Norway’s use of bio fuel is a disaster to the rain forest
The use of bio fuel on Norwegian roads increases dramatically. Good for the climate, the authorities believe. Many would rather see regular diesel being used, says the Rain forest Foundation.
On Friday figures where releaed that Norwegian road traffic used 659 million litres of bio fuel in 2017. That is 236 million litres more than the year before.
That means the Norwegian Parliament’s goal that biofuels should account for 20 per cent of fuel on Norwegian roads is within reach.
The increase from 2016 to 2017 reduces climate emissions by 600,000 metric ton of CO₂ equivalents according to the Norwegian Environment Directorate. Director Ellen Hambro states that the use of what is called advanced bio fuel, second generation bio fuel or HVO is increasing in particular.
This is why they consider it a disaster for the rain forest
The development doesn’t lead to applause from the Rain forest Fund. A total of 317 million litres of bio fuel, far more than the increase from 2016 to 2017, is based on palm oil, according to the Fund.
Use of av palm oil is very controversial. Huge areas of rain forest are cut down and burned annually in order to plant palm oil trees. Palm oil production is the main reason for the destruction of the rain forest in Southeast Asia according to the Rain forest Fund. Several political parties have tried to put a halt to diesel from palm oil being used in Norway.
– This is a disaster for the rainforest and leads to greater greenhouse gas emissions than if we had used fossil diesel, says policy and campaign leader in the Rainforest Foundation, Nils Hermann Ranum.
Palm oil was the most widely used raw material in 2017 and now accounts for almost half of all bio fuel. According to Ranum, the effect of increased demand for palm oil in Norway is that 220 square kilometers of rainforest is destroyed, which corresponds to half of Oslo’s area.
Totally destroys the focus on bio fuel
Contrary to the directorate’s claim of reductions in climate gas emissions, the Rain forest Fund claims that the emissions are skyrocketing.
– Compared to fossil fuels, emissions have increased by 15 per cent from transport on Norwegian roads. That corresponds to 1.5 million metric ton of CO₂ equivalents, says Nils Hermann Ranum, who goes on to say that it would be more climate-friendly to fill the tank with fuel made from oil pumped up from the NCS.
The critique of the developments is as strong in the environmental foundation Zero, the sole major environmental institution in Norway that has supported the decision on bio fuel.
– The amount of palm oil completely destroys the entire focus on bio fuel, says Responsible for Transport in Zero, Kari Asheim, in a press release.
Places the responsibility with these petrol stations
Palm oil diesel is a climate bomb – it results in increased emissions because we experience rainforest destruction as part of the deal. The Parliament decided almost a year ago that we should ban it from public procurement, and investigate other means to get rid of it, but nothing has happened, says Asheim in Zero.
Zero and Rain forest Fund applauds the fuel chains UnoX and Circle K, which maintain that they do not sell diesel made from palm oil, which the competitors Esso and Shell do.
Supplier rejects contributing to deforestation
One of the major suppliers of bio fuel is St1, which supplies fuel to Shell stations. Marketing and Communications Manager Sigrid Louise G. Philippart writes in an e-mail that they have quality assurance procedures in place that guarantee that the fuel they sell does not contribute to deforestation.
– Our customers can be completely confident that the bio fuel they fill the tank at our stations is certified in accordance with EU sustainability criteria and requirements by the Norwegian authorities. The proportion of bio fuel derived from palm oil is sustainable and traceable back to individual plantations, and does not contribute to deforestation, writes Philippart.
Amazingly, palm oil is not banned
Long-standing leader of the Norwegian Nature Conservation Union and presently parliamentary representative for SV, Lars Haltbrekken, hits out against the bio fuel figures:
– It’s amazing that the Government has not managed to ban palm oil from bio fuel in Norway. On the contrary, the opposite has happened, the use of palm oil has increased sharply. Demand for palm oil from Indonesia is an important reason for the destruction of rain forests there. It is high time that the resolutions made by the Parliament are implemented and ensure that the climate policy is not soaked in palm oil and rain forest destruction, says Haltbrekken.
The Minister for Environment and Climate responds
The criticism especially affects Climate and Environmental Minister Ola Elvestuen (Liberals).
Elvestuen believes that in the short- and medium- term bio fuel is necessary, pointing to that all bio fuels that are sold in Norway comply with requirements of sustainability.
– There are obviously serious dilemmas connected to the use of bio fuel, and we must intensify our efforts to make it as sustainable as possible. But using bio fuel rather than fossil diesel reduces emissions in Norway by 1.5 million ton of CO2, he says to Aftenposten.
– But does not Norwegian demand for bio fuel indirectly lead to deforestation?
– That is definitely something that we and I take seriously.M Even when you count on the uncertainity you have to consider, the bio fuel effort in Norway provides a positive global climate impact of 150,000 ton reduced CO2 emissions. D That is as well as it can be calculated using the figures that the EU bases their estimates on, he says.
© Aftenposten / #Norway Today