Stop Biofuelling Deforestation: How your fuel bills are subsidising deforestation - and what you can do about it! | Sumatran Orangutan Society | January 2012
Demand for agricultural land is at the heart of the mass destruction of the world's forests. The main cause of forest loss in Indonesia, and the greatest threat to the continued survival of orangutans in the wild, is the conversion of forests to oil palm plantations.
Orangutans share their forest home with countless other critically endangered species, including Sumatran tigers, elephants, and rhinos. Agricultural expansion is also linked to other causes of biodiversity decline including hunting, poaching, human-wildlife conflict, illegal logging, and forest fires. Tropical forests are also crucial carbon sinks, so losing these habitats would be catastrophic in terms of the global fight to prevent dangerous climate change.
Yet, shockingly, the UK government is considering offering subsidies to power stations to burn biofuels - including palm oil - for heat and power. And what's more, this is being funded through our fuel bills!
These subsidies, called Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) are the government's way of supporting renewable energy technologies, as part of plans to reduce the country's greenhouse gas emissions. Nobody would deny that we need more investment in renewables, but, as well as supporting clean technologies such as wind farms, ROCs also finance electricity generation from the burning of bioliquids such as palm oil.
On top of the threat that this increase in demand for fuel crops poses to tropical forests and biodiversity,some biofuels have been shown to actually lead to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions!