Palm oil is the world’s most commonly used vegetable oil. After beef and soya, palm oil is the third largest agricultural cause of deforestation. Global production has more than doubled since 1990, reaching 64.5 million tonnes in 2016/2017.
The EU Renewable Energy Directive (2009), which encouraged greater use of biofuels, has been an important driver of EU imports in recent years. Some of the additional palm oil coming into the EU has gone directly into biofuel, but more commonly palm oil imports have filled gaps left by increased use of locally produced rapeseed oil as a biofuel feedstock.
The EU has made a commitment to end its role in deforestation by 2020. This will remain an impossible goal while policies and practices encourage rising demand for palm oil, with little concern about the deforestation or human rights violations generated by its production.
Fern is calling for an EU Action Plan to ensure imports of forest-risk commodities are legally sourced and ecologically viable.
This briefing note, the first in a series, focuses on Palm Oil.