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MEPs call for "clampdown" on EU import of unsustainable palm oil

The European Union (EU) should tackle the environmental impacts, such as deforestation and habitat degradation, linked to the unsustainable production of palm oil in particular in South-East Asia, said Environment MEPs in a non-binding report.

European environment MEP's call on the Commission to take measures to phase out the use of vegetable oils that drive deforestation, including palm oil, as a component of biofuels preferably by 2020. They also call for a single certification scheme for palm oil entering the EU market.

European environment MEP’s call on the Commission to take measures to phase out the use of vegetable oils that drive deforestation, including palm oil, as a component of biofuels preferably by 2020. They also call for a single certification scheme for palm oil entering the EU market.

The European Union (EU) should tackle the environmental impacts, such as deforestation and habitat degradation, linked to the unsustainable production of palm oil in particular in South-East Asia, said Environment MEPs in a non-binding report adopted today. Members advocate a phase-out of the use of biofuels derived from “vegetable oils that drive deforestation” by 2020, and a single certification scheme for palm oil entering the EU market.

– We want an open debate with all actors so we can make palm oil production sustainable, without cutting down forests and in compliance with dignified human rights conditions. This is the first EP report on this issue and it is up to the Commission, how they will stand up to it. We cannot ignore the problem of deforestation, which threatens the Global Agreement on Climate Change COP21 and UN Sustainable Development Goals, said Kateřina Konečná (GUE/NGL, CZ) who drafted the report.

MEPs note that 46 percent of total palm oil imported into the EU is used for the production of biofuels, which required the use of about one million hectares of tropical soils. They call on the Commission to take measures to phase out the use of vegetable oils that drive deforestation, including palm oil, as a component of biofuels preferably by 2020.

Single certification scheme for palm oil import

MEPs also note that there are various voluntary certification schemes, such as Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) and Malaysian Palm Oil Certification Council (MPOCC) promoting the sustainable cultivation of palm oil. However, according to MEP’s their “standards are subject to criticism and are confusing” for consumers.

According to “very worrying reports” from Amnesty International and Rainforest Action Network cited by MEPs, a large part of the global production of palm oil is in breach of fundamental human rights and adequate social standards. Child labour is frequently occurring, and there are many land conflicts between local and indigenous communities and palm oil concession holders.

Instead, they advocate a single certification scheme to guarantee that only sustainably produced palm oil enters the EU market and call for the EU to introduce sustainability criteria for palm oil and products containing palm oil entering the EU market. The Commission should “increase the traceability” of palm oil imported into the EU and should consider applying different “customs duty schemes” reflecting more accurately the real costs until the single certification scheme is applied.

The Commission should “increase the traceability” of palm oil imported into the EU and should consider applying different “customs duty schemes” reflecting more accurately the real costs until the single certification scheme is applied. The text was adopted with 56 votes to 1. It will be put to a vote by the full House during the 3-6 April plenary session in Strasbourg.

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