Agrofuels and oil palm plantations

The promotion of agrofuels as a form of renewable energy is proving to be one of the European Union’s biggest policy mistakes.

EU agrofuels policies are aggravating climate change. They have become a key driver of forest and biodiversity loss, land-grabs and conflicts, and human rights abuses in producer countries such as Indonesia. Increasingly, agricultural land needed to produce food is being reallocated to grow crops for agrofuels to fuel cars rather than to feed hungry people. [more]

Down to Earth No.79, November 2008


Indonesian organisations have circulated the following information about the impact of the global credit crunch and falling palm oil prices on peasant farmers in the province Jambi, Sumatra. Translation from the Indonesian by DTE.


Since palm oil became 'the golden crop' around the year 2000, the European market for this commodity has grown year on year, not only to satisfy demand from the food and cosmetics industries, but also as an alternative energy source to fossil fuels.

Down to Earth No.76-77, May 2008


Indonesian agrofuel,1 producers are putting operations on hold as high demand drives up prices.

Since the Indonesian government issued its agrofuels policy in 2006, 22 companies have been set up to produce these alternative fuels.

Down to Earth No.76-77, May 2008


The UK government and the European Union are pressing ahead with policies to increase agrofuel* use for energy - despite evidence of serious harm to the climate and communities - due to concerns about climate change, rising prices of fossil fuels and energy security.1

Down to Earth No.76-77 May 2008

Communities in West Kalimantan, supported by national and international NGOs, have taken the unprecedented step of challenging the environmentally and socially damaging impacts of the world's largest palm oil company, using the World Bank Group's official complaints procedure.

Down to Earth No.75, November 2007


Evidence from local and international NGOs about the impacts of large-scale oil palm plantations on the environment and communities has made some buyers and parliamentarians in Europe realise that palm oil is not the 'green', sustainable product the industry claims.

Down to Earth No. 74, August 2007


The Jambi-based NGO, SETARA, which focuses on issues related to livelihoods, energy, natural resources and foreign investment, distributed a position paper on Indonesia's palm oil supplies in May. It was headed with a quote from Cuba's former leader, Fidel Castro, that the use of food crops to produce fuels would cause rising prices and hunger for millions of people in developing countries.