European Union (EU) lawmakers are increasingly
convinced that Malaysia is on the same path as the EU on the
sustainability of palm oil production, but would need more scientific
data to support Malaysia’s case.
Dan Jorgensen, who is the vice-chair of the environment, public health
and food safety committee in the European Parliament, has promised to
bring Malaysia’s case on its discrimination versus other oils in the
Renewable Energy Directive (RED).
“We don’t want any
discrimination at all of the palm oil sector, and we promised the
industry here to help have discussions with the EU on this,” he said.
Jorgensen, who was in Malaysia last week with two other Members of the
European Parliament (MEPs) Martin J. Callanan and Ole K. Christensen,
were impressed with the work undertaken by the government and the palm
oil industry and the sustainability efforts.
don’t know how efficient an oil it (palm oil) is. I wasn’t aware myself
how much oil you can get per hectare compared with other oils – in that
way it is discriminated against,” he added.
Oil palms on the average produce 2.5 times more oil per ha than
According to the RED which will come into force in
December this year, biofuels must have greenhouse gas savings of at
least 35 per cent and according to EU’s calculation, the use of palm
oil-based biodiesel failed the requirement as it achieved only 19 per
“We promise to look into the discrimination (claim) and,
if there is, we’ll do anything in our powers to change it. The numbers
would need to be accurate and based on scientific data,” said Jorgensen.
A social democrat MEP who hails from Denmark, Jorgensen said the EU is
committed to the sustainability criteria as it helps mitigate problems
of greenhouse gases, climate change, global warming and also
“We’re happy to hear that the industry
acknowledges and respects it. They have been discussing how it can
become more competitive on the sustainability criteria.”
Jorgensen also suggested that the palm oil industry considers making
entrapment of methane gas mandatory to increase the energy efficiency of
Palm oil mills are currently encouraged to trap
methane gas from palm oil mill effluent.
“We are convinced
that the industry has been doing a lot and we expect it will proceed to
become more sustainable because palm oil is important for biofuel as
well as oil for food,” he said.
The parliamentarians recognised
that palm oil has been the largest contributor of wealth in the country
and lends bigger potential compared to the other edible oils.
Christensen also lauded the Malaysian government and the industry for
their achievements in bringing the people out of the poverty bracket and
also providing employment, especially in the Felda smallholder schemes.
“Palm oil is not a bad thing as is being perceived by many people in
Europe. We are gratified that Malaysia has strict laws in place to make
sure no more rainforests are destroyed and expansion is on agriculture
land,” said Callanan.
Callanan also does not expect Malaysia to
be affected by the RED in the short term as the use of palm oil for
biofuel is still very small.
Malaysia’s ambassador to the EU,
Hussein Haniff, who also attended the meeting in Kuala Lumpur, said more
outreach programmes were necessary to enable the EU lawmakers to be
convinced that Malaysia is not clearing rainforests to grow oil palm.
There is also the tendency to lump both Malaysia and Indonesia, the
top two producers of palm oil, together.
“We want an equal
playing field and they are willing to take up on the verification of
scientific data. From what we know, they have outdated data.
“In the process of review, if they find the default value is not 19 per
cent, then it will be good for us to be on par with the other oils,”
Source : Business Times by Rupa Damodaran