Indonesia, Malaysia to defend palm oil from EU 'discriminatory' ban
The South Asian largest palm oil producers will work together to protect one of their economic lifelines.
After Europe set palm oil as one of the factors contributing to deforestation earlier in December, the two largest exporters of the product have agreed to cooperate in fighting the new threat targeting their economy's key component.
Indonesia and Malaysia provide over 85% of the global market's demand for palm oil, as millions of small-scale farmers depend on planting the commodity to make a living.
On December 6, the EU agreed to pass a new regulation banning the import of goods and products considered to contribute to deforestation.
Read more: Finland facing massive EU fine over deforestation
Among banned products are palm oil, cattle, soy, coffee, cocoa, timber, and rubber - unless companies prove that their products are deforestation-free.
Companies also have to prove "precise geographical information on farmland" where the commodities were sourced, and that the product was not grown after December 2020 on land considered to be "deforested".
Indonesian President Joko Widodo, following a meeting with the Prime Minister of Malaysia Anwar Ibrahim, stated on Monday that his country will work with Malaysia to promote the product through the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries.
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The European steps come despite both South Asian countries having strict regulations to protect and maintain their forests.
The next step involves EU members formally adopting the regulation before it can enter into force.
As for traders, they will have 18 months to implement the rules.
When the law is adopted, all EU states will have to stop imports that are believed to be responsible for deforestation.
Read more: US to potentially amend 'green subsidies' to appease EU: John Kerry
The EU's decision is part of a larger plan to cut the union's carbon footprint.
However, the bloc's main challenge is proving that the commodity is not breaching the new regulation.
Providing technical proof will result in extra costs for small-land farmers, highlighted the Malaysian Palm Oil Board, as EU importers would have to undergo strict due diligence over the source of the palm oil.
Malaysia strongly criticized the EU's proposal when it was first announced in 2018, dubbing it as "crop apartheid".
The EU has been set to target palm oil, mostly used as biofuel, for several years now.
Rapeseed oil produced in Europe dominates the biofuel production industry, however, the bloc excluded it from the regulatory crackdown, while the EU insists its proposed ban on palm oil is based on its contribution to deforestation.
“EU has classified palm oil feedstock as having a high risk to indirect land-use change (ILUC), compared to other vegetable oils like rapeseed and sunflower which are considered as a low-risk feedstock,” a recently conducted study on the impact of the EU ban on these commodities said.
Read more: UK greenlights first coal mine in 30 years
Following the EU vote last December, the chairman of the European Parliament's environment committee called the decision "radical".
"This is a first in the world!" said Pascal Canfin in a press release.
"It's the coffee we have for breakfast, the chocolate we eat, the coal in our barbecues, the paper in our books. This is radical," he added.
Europe blackmails countries for carbon emissions, exempts itself
According to the European Statistical Office in a report released in June of 2022, carbon dioxide emissions coming from the use of fossil energy resources in European Union states had increased by 6.3% in 2021.
"In 2021, when most of the COVID-19 containment measures were lifted by the EU Member States, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuel combustion in the EU (mainly oil and oil products, natural gas, coal, and peat) increased by 6.3% compared with the previous year. CO2 emissions from energy use are a major contributor to global warming and account for some 75% of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions in the EU," the office said in a statement.
Read more: "Irreversible damages" caused by US' emissions of greenhouse gases
According to Eurostat, the CO2 increase is due to the increasing use of solid fossil fuels, which accounted for over 50% of the increase. Liquid fossil fuels accounted for over 29% of the increase, while natural gas accounted for 21%.
In another incident where the EU revealed the true nature of its foreign policy regarding the global climate, the EU Parliament passed a bill in July of 2022 that made it possible to label fossil gas and nuclear power as "green" in the Commission's taxonomy, provoking an outcry from all European political groups.
The Parliament adopted the European Commission's proposal first published on 2022 New Year's Eve. The Greens opposed it, and so did the Social Democrats (S&D), the radical left (GUE), some liberals (RE), and Christian Democrats (PPE). Going against the positions expressed by scientists, the majority of MEPs approved the greenwashing operation proposed by the European Commission in a 328-278 vote, with 33 lawmakers abstaining.
Opponents of this taxonomy call it "greenwashing". The gas, when burning, emits significant amounts of CO2. As for nuclear power, it is free of CO2 but generates waste for which no lasting solution exists.
This classification seems surreal, but its scope must be put into perspective. The taxonomy comes with conditions that do not make it an eternal law. It is only valid for a transitional period ending in 2045. Gas and nuclear will only then be sustainable if new technologies are introduced. As for gas, it will have to be substituted for coal.
Coal might be back in the European Union
EU Spokesperson for Climate Action and Energy Tim McPhie said earlier in November that EU member states would have to go for more intensive use of coal over the coming few winters to ensure energy security.
"There are a number of member states that… they have announced that in the short term they will be needed to resort to coal to ensure energy security in Europe," he added, noting that this measure might be extended for several winters ahead.