Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Biofuel Demand Leading to Human Rights Abuses, Report Claims.

Biofuel Demand Leading to Human Rights Abuses, Report Claims. By Jessica Aldred, London Guardian, February 12, 2008. "EU politicians should reject targets for expanding the use of biofuels because the demand for palm oil is leading to human rights abuses in Indonesia, a coalition of international environmental groups claimed today. A new report, published by Friends of the Earth [of the UK] and indigenous rights groups LifeMosaic and Sawit Watch, said that increasing demands for palm oil for food and biofuels was causing millions of hectares of forests to be cleared for plantations and destroying the livelihoods of indigenous peoples. The report, Losing Ground (PDF 108 pp) said many of the 60-90 million people in Indonesia who depend on the forests are losing their land to the palm oil companies... 'The unsustainable expansion of Indonesia's palm oil industry is leaving many indigenous communities without land, water or adequate livelihoods. Previously self-sufficient communities find themselves in debt or struggling to afford education and food. Traditional customs and culture are being damaged alongside Indonesia's forests and wildlife,' the report reads. It claims that oil palm companies often use violent tactics as they move in to convert the land to plantations... The alleged human rights abuses come after several recent reports have highlighted the environmental problems caused by the conversion of land for farming palm oil. Last week a study by the University of Minnesota and Nature Conservancy, published in Science, found that the carbon lost through the clearance of forests, peat lands or even grasslands far outweighs the greenhouse gas savings that can come from biofuels. Conversion of land for corn, sugarcane, palm oil or soybeans released 17 to 420 times more carbon than the annual savings from replacing fossil fuels with bioethanol or biodiesel, the researchers said."

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