Norway bans biofuel from palm oil to fight deforestation

Palm oil is used in virtually anything, from food to make-up industry, and the rapid expansion of palm plantations comes at the expense of tropical ecosystems, native populations, land degradation and carbon emissions.

Tropical forests are annually burned down to be replaced by palm farms in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, which produce more than 80% of the global supply of palm oil. EU and EU-Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries receive 12% of Malaysian palm oil exports, and a portion of this is used as substitute for crude oil in the production of biofuel.

Image credit: Greenpeace UK

In December 2018, the Norwegian parliament voted for a ban on palm-oil based biofuels. Starting from 2020, the government is expected to impose taxes and policies to exclude biofuels linked to deforestation risk.

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While the Norwegian market accounts for less than 1% of the total palm oil exports, it sets an example towards market-based deforestation combatting policies. The EU has also decided to ban the use of palm oil in motor fuels starting from 2021.

Malaysia pledged to implement policies to ensure the sustainability of palm oil production and supply chain, however measures should also be taken to stop further expansion of palm plantations.

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