Offener Brief

Palm oil plantations for biofuel production threaten tropical rainforest in Kalimantan

Open Letter

October 13, 2005

Francois Lamoureux Director-General Directorate-General Energy and Transport European Commission Dear. Mr. Lamoureux,


New Oil Palm Plantation in Kalimantan

Photo: Nordin, Save Our Borneo

I am writing to express my concern about using palm oil and soya biomass as biofuels. To fulfill the demand for biofuel, large areas of tropical rainforests are currently already converted into plantations, with the effect, that lowland rainforest, especially in Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo, are cut down. Considering geological and ecological conditions in Borneo, in only a few years Borneo will become a desert where palm oil plantations would have difficulties to grow. I am aware that the Directorate-General of Energy and Transport under your leadership is currently deciding to what extent tropical palm oil will be supported as a biofuel within Europe. Please ensure you do not support its expansion as an energy source in Europe. I agree that dramatic climate change necessitates an embrace of renewable energy, and biofuel is an important and immediately available alternative energy. However, we simply can not grow enough biomass to meet current and continued energy demands, without destroying more natural habitat and diverting food from the poor. Given oil palm and soya’s impacts upon tropical biodiversity and ecosystems, their large scale use is not sustainable development. An unregulated rush to biofuels will lead to more natural rainforest loss and fragmentation, increased pressures upon endangered primary forests, and more monoculture, herbicide laden and genetically modified tree plantations. Largely to meet the demand for biofuel, the Indonesian government announced in July 2005 the development of the largest palm oil plantation in the world which will clear the „Heart of Borneo“, the vast areas of tropical rain forest found in Kalimantan. This will further deteriorate ecosystems which provide habitat to the already endangered Orang Utan, as well as many other species, including human. It makes no sense to pursue modest improvements in climate change at the expense of the World’s rainforests. The use of vegetable waste and regionally produced biomass is more appropriate. Europe and the world would be better off in pursuing energy conservation and truly renewable energy sources as the basis for their climate change and energy policies. Please ensure that your directorate supports increased investment in energy from wind and sun and does not carelessly create, stimulate and subsidize new international palm oil and soya export markets. Western countries must do better than destroying tropical rainforests to meet their Kyoto goals.

With Concern,

Marianne Klute

Watch Indonesia!

cc: Other European Commission Officials You can find and sign a similar protest email to support the campaign against soya and oil palm plantations for biofuels and the destruction of the rainforest

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