Palm Oil and its derivatives will be heavily scrutinised as part of new parliamentary plans, which have been outlined in Norway this week.
As a result of the new measures, palm oil will no longer be purchased on behalf of the biofuel industry in Norway from 2020 onward.
The country has been carrying out examinations of palm oil, and its problematic supply chain, for some time, but the decision to eliminate it was decided as part of a ruling made on Monday, December 3rd. The Cerulogy and Rainforest Foundation Norway, a leading environmental consultancy in the country, recently reported that “under current biofuel targets, global demand for palm oil will increase by six times over the next decade.”
The topic of palm oil and the damaging process of harvesting it, which results in habitat loss and deforestation, has become a poignant issue for campaigners over recent years.
The aim of the Norwegian ruling is “to formulate a comprehensive proposal for policies and taxes in the biofuels policy in order to exclude biofuels with high deforestation risk”.
“The Norwegian parliament’s decision sets an important example to other countries and demonstrates the need for a serious reform of the world’s palm oil industry.” – Nils Hermann Ranum, Rainforest Foundation Norway
One additional issue, aside from conservation of wildlife and natural areas, is that of carbon emissions caused by the cultivation and harvesting of palm oil.
Palm oil is used for a multitude of products, making it incredibly difficult to erase from the food chain. A Sustainable Palm Oil certificate is awarded to compliant participants in the scheme, however, some companies may simply rename it as ‘vegetable oil’ or ‘vegetable extract’.
Vigilance is required if palm oil is to be avoided. Online petitions are highlighting brands who use unsustainable, unethically sourced palm oil, and more certifications will certainly lead the way to a more transparent supply chain.
Additionally, whilst the EU has agreed to begin a process to attempt to phase out biofuels linked with deforestation and habitat destruction, it will not be in action until 2030.