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The palm oil in biofuels threatens old-growth forest

Stefan Wirsenius and Timothy Searchinger critically examine the indirect effects of large-scale production of biofuels on the possibilities to reduce the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is excellent, as well as to highlight the option to use the forest as a carbon sink.

Swedish organisations, companies, and politicians often have a naive approach based on insufficient knowledge, and the zany choice of the system boundaries. In part, this is a result of the environmental uncritically made common cause with companies and organizations that represent the ”green” special interests.

the Difference in total environmental impact between palm oil and ethanol produced from wheat are much greater than they wish to believe.

the Four Swedish authorities noted in a joint report that there may be reasons to avoid all use of palm oil and the by-product PFAD, since the growing demand for certified palmoljeprodukter contributes to an increase of the production. Best would be if the EU could agree on ban in biofuels as long as produktionsländernas governments do not want to or be able to prevent the continued burning of native forest and new plantings of oil palms. Palm oil and PFAD together constitute about a third of the biofuel used in Sweden.

For fulfilment of EU targets on biofuels should represent at least 14% of the consumption of transport fuels in 2030, member states may receive a maximum of 7 percentage points in the form of biomass from the food and fodder crops. They may set the limit lower than 7% and in addition make a difference between different types of biofuels based on the available knowledge of their indirect effect on land use. The directive mentions in particular that you can set the limit lower for oilseeds such as palm oil. Sweden should take advantage of this opportunity and set the limit for the use of palmoljeprodukter as close to zero as possible. I posted the issue in more detail in a recently released report that also takes up a part of accompanying measures, mainly in respect of taxation.

last summer, gave a taste of what climate change may mean for food production and the consequences can be far worse in the more vulnerable parts of the world. Therefore, should arable land be preserved.

in Addition to the very limited quantities of the residues which Wirsenius and Searchinger mentions that Sweden has the possibility to use the lignin from the pulp mills for the production of a kind of bioråolja out of the ordinary refineries can produce biosyntetisk petrol and diesel. It can eventually cover about a quarter of the current need of transport fuels in Sweden. But in this context it is important to remember that Sweden has around ten times more forest per capita than the average in Europe. In Sweden seems to the understanding of this difference in the potential to use biofuels to be insignificant.

Wirsenius and Searchinger are right in that the transport sector's climate problems in the foundation can only be solved through efficiency measures (including the choice of smaller cars than the swedes run) and electrification. Biofuels can only be a minor addition, and primarily in the aerospace and shipping.

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