Biofuels and Carbon Credits Behind Global Deforestation

Biofuels Boom Spurring Deforestation
By Stephen Leahy

Mar 21 (IPS/IFEJ) – Nearly 40,000 hectares of forest vanish every day, driven by the world’s growing hunger for timber, pulp and paper, and ironically, new biofuels and carbon credits designed to protect the environment.

Sugarcane field Queensland Australia Copyright Renate Leahy 2004The irony here is that the growing eagerness to slow climate change by using biofuels and planting millions of trees for carbon credits has resulted in new major causes of deforestation, say activists. And that is making climate change worse because deforestation puts far more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than the entire world’s fleet of cars, trucks, planes, trains and ships combined.

“Biofuels are rapidly becoming the main cause of deforestation in countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and Brazil,” said Simone Lovera, managing coordinator of the Global Forest Coalition, an environmental NGO based in Asunción, Paraguay.

“We call it ‘deforestation diesel’,” Lovera told IPS.

Oil from African palm trees is considered to be one of the best and cheapest sources of biodiesel and energy companies are investing billions into acquiring or developing oil-palm plantations in developing countries. Vast tracts of forest in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and many other countries have been cleared to grow oil palms.

Oil palm has become the world’s number one fruit crop, well ahead of bananas.

Biodiesel offers many environmental benefits over diesel from petroleum, including reductions in air pollutants, but the enormous global thirst means millions more hectares could be converted into monocultures of oil palm.

For full story see Biofuels Boom Spurring Deforestation

Part of a series on sustainable development for IPS and IFEJ (International Federation of Environmental Journalists)

email: writersteve AT gmail . com for questions, story ideas, etc

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