By the end of 2015 all palm oil used in central government food and catering services will come from environmentally friendly sources. Supermarkets, manufacturers, charities and the WWF will join forces to ensure that all palm oil used in the UK does not contribute to deforestation. With regard to biofuel, less than 0.5% of biofuels sold in the UK are made from palm oil, and palm oil is not used at all in UK biofuel production, however it is well known that unsustainable and irresponsible use of palm oil can have destructive consequences on both the environment and the rights of local peoples.
“The sustainability criteria developed by the DfT are a very good example of targeted policy intervention which effectively regulates the industry and prevents unsustainable and destructive practices” said REA Head of Renewable Transport Clare Wenner. “These criteria have effectively eliminated palm oil from the UK biofuel market, and have helped UK producers achieve greenhouse gas savings of 77% compared to fossil fuels. This is the kind of regulation we need, not the complete U-turn in support for biofuels currently being proposed in Brussels, which, rather than being targeted, is akin to using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. The Commission must adapt its proposals to ensure that it encourages the recycling of profits from the production of crop-based biofuels in innovation for advanced biofuels, rather than simply stopping the industry in its tracks.”
The REA was in Berlin last week to discuss the Commission’s ILUC proposals with other leading European industry groups, and continues to work hard to secure a viable framework for the UK industry, which is poised to deliver green jobs and growth as soon as policy becomes clear and investor confidence returns.
“People want to know that the products they are using are not contributing to deforestation and climate change and many UK businesses are already starting to make changes” said Environment Minister Richard Benyon.
The government’s announcement coincided with the start of the International Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil annual conference which takes place in Singapore from 29-31 October. The government will set up an advice and information service to help UK businesses and government procurers work towards 100% sustainable palm oil which will include a helpline, web pages, newsletters and seminars. Latest figures show that in 2011 the UK imported 450,000 tonnes of palm oil and palm kernel oil.