Environmental NGOs across Europe have launched a new initiative urging the European Commission to phase out palm oil in biodiesel by 1 February 2019. Sixty-nine per cent of Europeans are in favour of this.
According to the organization Transport & Environment, the vast majority of Europeans are unaware that they are putting palm oil in their tanks when filling up with biodiesel.
In an Ipsos poll of 4,500 Europeans conducted in nine countries, 82 per cent responded that they did not know this biodiesel has palm oil added to it. When asked how they feel about this, 69 per cent responded that they would support measures to end policy support and subsidies for palm oil in biodiesel in Europe. Only 14 per cent are against such measures, and 16 per cent are undecided.
Opposition to burning palm oil in cars and trucks is strongest in Italy and Hungary (75 per cent), followed by France (71 per cent), the United Kingdom (69 per cent) and Poland (69 per cent). Even in Germany, which came last in the Ipsos poll, 64 per cent of respondents said they would support ending subsidizes for palm oil.
It is against this backdrop of opposition to palm oil that an international coalition of environmental NGOs in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands has now launched a campaign to urge the European Commission to phase out palm oil in biodiesel in a delegated act by 1 February 2019. #NotInMyTank plans to hold public events and will culminate in a ‘European day of action’ across several cities.
Giorgio Zampetti, executive director of the Italian NGO Legambiente, called it “an unbearable paradox” that Europeans want cleaner fuels to save the environment, but instead have palm oil, which destroys forests, feeding their diesel cars. “We need advanced biofuels, produced from waste, in the context of an economy that is ‘circular’,” he said.
Palm oil in biodiesel in Europe is driving deforestation and peatland drainage in Southeast Asia. Last year, 51 per cent of the palm oil used in Europe ended up in the tanks of cars and trucks, making drivers the top consumers of palm oil in Europe.
Image credit: David Gilbert/Rainforest Action Network via Flickr