Friday, February 19, 2010
A surreal argument for biofuels
The corruption of science joins well with political expediency. I say put the interests of people first but don't hide your intentions. A leaked paper has set out the idea that palm oil plantations can be considered 'forests' – and the EU seems to be buying it
A hut in Riau, Indonesia, where palm oil plantations are a major cause of deforestation. Photograph: Ahmad Zamroni/Getty Images
Could destroying the rainforests make good environmental sense? This barmy idea is set out, albeit less explicitly, in a paper on biofuels under discussion by senior Brussels officials.
Even though palm oil plantations are a major source of tropical deforestation – and hence a major contributor to climate change – the leaked paper suggests that such plantations can often be deemed as ecologically sustainable. And if that isn't puzzling enough, it also indicates that forests that have been chopped down to make way for biofuel plantations can still be considered as forests.
Not since René Magritte completed the "This is not a pipe" painting has something as surreal been produced in the Belgian capital. Yet unlike Magritte's work, this paper – known in Brussels parlance as a "communication" – could soon be taken literally across Europe. It is intended to guide EU governments as they formulate strategies on how to power one-tenth of all cars, vans and trucks with biofuels by 2020. Read more.