Oil Palm Apartheid of European Union Triggers Global Deforestation

The practice of discrimination or apartheid has long ended on Earth. Wold leader that was against apartheid such as Nelson Mandela of South Africa who received full support from European Union has passed away and inherited the new era in South Africa where people can live in harmony without discrimination.

Ironically, the European Union, a group of already wealthy nations, is actually rebuilding the trade politics of discrimination that can be categorized as crop apartheid. European Union policies that prohibit the use of palm biodiesel in the renewable energy policy (Renewable Energy Directives) which will come into force in 2020 are discriminatory trade practices. Why? The reason being the policy only applies to palm biodiesel and does not apply to soybean, sunflower, rapeseed or other vegetable oil biodiesels.

The far-fetched reason being used shows the arrogance of the practice of apartheid. The ban on palm biodiesel in the European Union is linked to a deforestation footprint in producing palm oil even though all countries, sectors and commodities on Earth leave a deforestation footprint.

Matthew’s Research (1983) revealed that ever since the era of world pre-farming until 1980, the width of world’s deforestation alone reached 701 million hectares in which around 653 million hectares or 93 percent of it occured in sub-tropical regions (Europe, North America, Russia, etc) and the remaining 7 percent occured in tropical regions. Sub-tropical agricultural land, cities in Europe, North America, Russia and China are the result of deforestation.

The currently developed regions were once traces of deforestation. The study conducted by European Commission (2013) dercribes that in the period between 1990-2008, the width of global deforestation reached 239 million hectares that spreaded in South America amounting to 33 percent, Africa 31 percent, Southeast Asia 19 percent and other regions 17 percent. The interesting part of this study is that the biggest deforestation amounting to 71 percent was conducted to expand ranch and soybean plantation in South America.

What happens if the EU does apply the Apartheid practice of palm oil? First, there will be an increased rapeseed and sunflower production both in the EU and in other European regions (outside the EU). This means that the area of sunflowers and rapeseeds must be expanded. With rapeseed oil production and sunflowers only around 0.5 ton / ha, to replace 10 million palm oil imports, 20 million hectares of new land for sunflower gardens and rapeseeds is needed. This will mean converting large-scale European forest (deforestation).

If the import of oil palm is to be stopped, it should be replaced with increasing the import of vegetable oil such as soybean oil from South America. If EU prefers changing the import of oil palm with soybean oil or other vegetable oil, then in order to replace the 10 million tons of palm oil will require the expansion of soybean plantation (or other biofuel plants) that amounts to 20 million hectares.. This will mean increasing the conversion of world’s forest (deforestation) that amounts to 20 million hectares wide.

In other words, if the EU practices palm oil apartheid, the EU sponsors even greater deforestation in the world comprising of 20 million hectares land. While if the EU does not do apartheid politics and continues to consume palm oil, there is no need to add deforestation to the world’s forests because oil palm plantations have been producing enough so far. To meet the needs of 10 million tons of palm oil, 2 million hectares of oil palm plantations is sufficient. Therefore, EU decision for the oil embargo is an option that is inferior from an economic and ecological perspectives. Even the choices available are contradictory to the EU’s own goals. EU has embargoed oil palm so that deforestation stops, but it turns out it is actually spurring ever greater deforestation in the world’s forests.

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