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Flying on biofuels will lead to land grabbing and deforestation

The aviation industry wants to massively switch to biofuels. That seems to be environmentally friendly, say environmental organisations, but in reality, it will lead to more palm oil plantations and more land grabbing, deforestation and rights abuses.

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The aviation industry is faced with a rapidly growing klimaatafdruk. Between 1990 and 2014 alone, increased the emissions by 87 percent, and the peak is not yet in sight: the industry wants the number of passengers in the next twenty years to double. A emissions at the same pace grow is at odds with the climate of Paris. Airlines are therefore looking for ways to help their klimaatimago to improve.

Biofuels: not so harmless as they seem

In a visietekst slide the International civil aviation organization (ICAO) biofuels as a solution to the front. The sector wants, by 2040 a third of the fuel consumption from biofuels – 2050 and even the half. The sector would at than 286 million tonnes of biofuel per year – more than three times the current world production.

But biofuels are much less innocent than they seem, 96 organisations from all over the world in a letter to the UN. The ICAO has it about biofuel based on algae, keukenolie and waste, but from a review of the available technologies shows that, in practice, especially for palm oil will amount, the cheapest and easiest to produce variant. Other crops on such a large scale production is not technically or economically possible.

Problems

The organizations argue that palm oil plantations are already very controversial. “Biofuels are already responsible for large-scale deforestation, land grabbing, human rights abuses and food insecurity,” says Mary Louise Formerly of the Global Forest Coalition. “Planes filling up with biofuels would have the same impact, still increasing, and, moreover, have no effect on the fight against climate change.”

The organizations stress that there are alternative ways should be found to that digit pressing as the world climate change below two degrees wants to keep, as agreed at the climate summit in Paris.

“The airline industry wants us to believe that they become greener, while in reality the klimaatuitstoot dramatic increases in the next decades,” says Julia Christian of European environmental group Fern. “The solution that they suggest is that more biofuels – palm oil – and that accelerates the destruction of the rainforests on earth.”

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