Friday , July 30 2021

In France, sus in soy and palm oil

A few months later, the government adopted the National Strategy for Combating Deforestation (SNDI) on Wednesday. Declared by Nicolas Hulot during the presentation of the "climate plan" in July 2017 and initially announced for March 2018, This is officially aimed at "Elimination of deforestation by 2030 caused by imports of unsustainable forests or agricultural products", such as palm oil from Southeast Asia, soya genetically modified from Latin America to feed our animals or cocoa from Africa. All anecdotes: in 1990-2015, the total area of ​​forests decreased by 129 million hectares, which is twice as much as in France. This deforestation accounts for around 11% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the world and has catastrophic consequences for biodiversity. According to calculations published last week by the non-governmental organization Envol Vert, the consumption habits of the French (meat, eggs, skin, agrofuels, cocoa, rubber …) each year lead to mass deforestation, equivalent to a territory as large as Brittany,

Non-binding measures

"This decision [d’adopter une SNDI] it is very important because we intend to close the window, which gave the opportunity to include palm oil for biofuels ", in July 2017, he insisted on the former minister of ecological transformation and solidarity. Chance for joy: over 75% of 900,000 tonnes of palm oil consumed in France are currently used to propel vehicles, but only remain in pastes, biscuits or cosmetics. Will this window close with this SNDI? Nothing is less certain.

Firstly because most of the 17 funds published on Wednesday are only incular and non-binding. The goal is to bring every actor (producing countries, companies, investors, consumers) to modify his behavior to reduce its impact on the forest. The first step is agricultural materials, which contribute the most to imported deforestation (soybean, palm oil, beef and by-products, cocoa, rubber, wood and wood products) are targeted, but other products can be added in the context of future revisions of SNDI (maize, rapeseed, shrimps, cotton, coffee, sugar cane, mining products …).

How does the state intend to encourage all these actors to turn away from these resources? Exploiting the leverage effect of development aid: The French Development Agency (AFD) will spend 60 million euros per year on "Projects contributing to sustainable management, combating deforestation and reforestation" in exporting countries. creating "National anti-deforestation platform bringing together companies, NGOs and public authorities", whose mission will develop "New label" zero deforestation "to help consumers make choices".

Palm oil in our engines

The state will also make that "Promotion of alternatives for the import of vegetable protein [essentiellement le soja, ndlr] potentially as a result of deforestation " and intends to set an example by adopting a zero-felling policy by 2022, for example in ministries. For Clément Sénéchal, running the "Greenpeace Climate and Forests" campaign, there is no account: SNDI "It is based only on the good will of private entities, while those who have committed" zero deforestation "have not been able to stop them so far and will not be able to stop deforestation by 2020. It emphasizes the role of certificates that until now they were completely ineffective and ineffective. ".

This applies in particular to palm oil, of which 51% of European imports were burned in 2017. In engines of passenger cars or trucks. The RSPO certificate ("Round table for sustainable palm oil") does not prohibit the destruction of forests on peat soils or so-called "secondary" forests, indicate NGOs. However, the use of certified palm oil as "sustainable" is precisely the argument of the government that justified the granting of green light in May to the "biorefinery" Total in La Mède (Bouches-du-Rhone), which carburises palm oil to produce 500,000 tonnes of biodiesel per year.

Above all, the real problem is elsewhere. "Even after certification, a huge amount of palm oil, which will be converted into agrofuels, will have a domino effect: it will deflate new surfaces to continue to meet the global demand for palm oil food," he explained in May economist Alain Karsenty from the Center for International Cooperation in the Field of Agricultural Research for Development (CIRAD). A phenomenon recognized by the European Commission under the name "indirect land use change" (Casi), whose scientist wants to integrate with calculating the carbon footprint of agrofuels. If so, "Those based on palm oil would have the worst carbon footprint on the market" with those based on soy.

"Total cheats his world, claiming that he will only use sustainable palm oil, because its emergence on the market will necessarily result in the" Casi "effectKlemens Senechal abounds. What's more, neither Total nor the government are transparent to future Total suppliers. However, this is the basis for companies that are involved in the sustainable production of palm oil. In short, there is no sustainable first-generation agrofuels, it is smoky. "

"contradictions "

The participant of the Greenpeace campaign is no longer convinced of the SNDI's disposition regarding agrofuels, "In line with the new Renewable Energy Directive, France will limit the inclusion of biofuels from high-risk raw materials indirectly to deforestation, in line with the criteria set by the European Commission in February 2019," to their total elimination in 2030 ". There is no indication, however, that the Commission – like France, which exerts pressure, including those producing palm oil, such as Malaysia and Indonesia – will adopt very strict criteria in this area.

In the case of Clément Sénéchal, about the first generation of agrofuels (obtained from food crops), the government "It pretends to stick to the new European directive on renewable energy, which intends to release harmful biofuels until 2023. Apart from the fact that it now gives Member States the option of unilaterally terminating this extremely industrial technology that is harmful to the climate. it would no longer support fiscal first-generation biofuels and would prohibit the production of palm oil from diesel fuel, as in the Total refinery in La Mède "Instead, the executive turned to parliamentarians in October to maintain tax exemption for palm oil in fuel … in favor of Total.

According to the image of the "master of the Earth", which Emmanuel Macron intends to hand over the Hexagon to the international arena, the government insists that with the help of SNDI "The first initiative of this type", "France wants to play the role of a driver" in Europe and around the world in the fight against imported deforestation. "Unfortunately, on this subject, as in the case of others, the government is full of contradictions and is unable to do anything that could harm the interests of the industries that are part of the problem", Slice of Klemens Sénéchal. For him, the authorization granted to Total "Importing 550,000 tonnes of palm oil per year to La Mede will certainly have more impact on tropical forests than SNDI. Private profits from the environment, business as usual."

Coralie Schaub

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