A new study on greenhouse gas emissions from oil palm plantations has
calculated a more than 50 percent increase in levels of CO2 emissions than
previously thought - and warned that the demand for 'green' biofuels could be
costing the earth.
The study from the University of Leicester was conducted for the International
Council on Clean Transportation, an international think tank that wished to
assess the greenhouse gas emissions associated with biodiesel production.
Biodiesel mandates can increase palm oil demand directly (the European
Biodiesel Board recently reported big increases in biodiesel imported from
Indonesia) and also indirectly, because palm oil is the world's most important
source of vegetable oil and will replace oil from rapeseed or soy in food if
they are instead used to make biodiesel.
The University of Leicester researchers carried out the first comprehensive
literature review of the scale of greenhouse gas emissions from oil palm
plantations on tropical peatland in Southeast Asia. In contrast to previous
work, this study also provides an assessment of the scientific methods used to
derive emissions estimates.
They discovered that many previous studies were based on limited data without
appropriate recognition of uncertainties and that these studies have been used
to formulate current biofuel policies.
The Leicester team established that the scale of greenhouse gas emissions from
oil palm plantations on peat is significantly higher than previously assumed.
They concluded that a value of 86 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per hectare
per year (annualised over 50 years) is the most robust currently available
estimate; this compares with previous estimates of around 50 tonnes of carbon
dioxide (CO2) per hectare per year. CO2 emissions increase further if you are
interested specifically in the short term greenhouse gas implications of palm
oil production - for instance under the EU Renewable Energy Directive which
assesses emissions over 20 years, the corresponding emissions rate would be 106
tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per hectare per year.
The findings have been published as an International White Paper from the
International Council on Clean Transportation.
AplusA-online.de - Source: Environmental Protection