Stop the ROCs
How your fuel bills are driving deforestation
One of the main causes of deforestation in Indonesia,
and the greatest threat to orangutans in the wild, is
the conversion of forests to oil palm plantations. As more and more forests fall, other critically endangered species, including Sumatran elephants, tigers and rhinos, are also put at risk.
Such 'development' is usually followed by increased levels of hunting, poaching, human-wildlife conflict, illegal logging, forest fires, and human rights abuses. Tropical forests are crucial carbon sinks, so losing these habitats would be catastrophic in terms of the global fight to prevent dangerous climate change.
Yet, shockingly, on 6th March 2013 the UK government voted to offer subsidies to power stations to burn biofuels - including palm oil - to generate electricity. And what's more, this is being funded through our fuel bills!
These subsidies, called Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs) are the government's way of supporting renewable energy technologies, as part of plans to reduce the country's greenhouse gas emissions. Nobody would deny that we need more investment in renewables, but, as well as supporting clean technologies such as wind farms, ROCs also finance electricity generation from the burning of bioliquids such as palm oil.
On top of the threat that this increase in demand for palm oil poses to tropical forests and biodiversity, burning palm oil as a fuel has been shown to actually lead to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions!
ROCs will support the burning of up to 500,000 tonnes of bioliquids per year. A large proportion of this is likely to be palm oil, as it is by far the cheapest vegetable oil. This target equates to 110,000 hectares of oil palm plantations, and could result in the doubling of the amount of palm oil imported into the UK each year. The subsidies will be made available from 1st April 2013.