Palm oil jet fuel stopped!

Photomontage: an aircraft engine in front of a torched rainforest An insane idea: using palm oil for jet fuel (© katueng/Fotolia)

Oct 17, 2017

Member countries of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) have rejected the organization's scheme to use millions of tons of palm oil as “green” jet fuel. A broad coalition of environmental activists helped expose the aviation industry’s plans for “carbon-neutral growth” as pure PR.

25 countries convened by the ICAO rejected the 2050 Vision on Sustainable Aviation Fuels proposed by the organization’s secretariat at the ICAO conference in Mexico. The proposal to use vast amounts of biofuels – 5 million tons in 2025, 128 million tons in 2040 and 285 million tons in 2050 – has thus been shelved.

Numerous international environmental and development organizations, including Rainforest Rescue, published an open letter to the members of the ICAO calling on them to reject the biofuel plans of the aviation industry.

 Rainforest Rescue’s petition, Don’t trash the rainforest for “green” jet fuel, was signed by more than 180,000 people.

The technologies, production facilities and raw materials needed to produce jet fuel from potential sources such as algae, wood and other cellulosic raw materials that the scheme would require are simply not available. The most likely option would therefore be palm oil. Realizing the ICAO’s proposal would have meant increasing worldwide palm oil production five-fold by 2050, with the attendant destruction of rainforests for oil palm plantations and land grabbing from smallholders and indigenous people.

The vast monocultures that the cultivation of raw materials for biofuel production require would be a disaster for biodiversity and ecosystems such as rainforests. It is also highly doubtful that biofuels would have any net positive effect on the climate.

The ICAO's resolution states that the sustainability of alternative aviation fuels is of paramount importance to the international aviation industry's efforts to reduce its CO2 emissions. However, the most important step in that direction would be for the industry to roll back its plans for further growth. The only thing that will truly help the environment is less air travel.

We are going to keep our aviation biofuels petition online until the issue of biofuels is completely off the table.

Further information:

Biofuelwatch, October 2017: Aviation biofuels: How ICAO and industry plans for 'sustainable alternative aviation fuels’ could lead to planes flying on palm oil

Transport & Environment, October 14, 2017: Countries reject plan for aviation biofuels targets