“The potential use of palm oil as biodiesel has focused debate on the emissions caused by the conversion of land to oil palm plantation and the subsequent steps in oil palm production,” said Suseno Budidarsono from the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF-SEA) opening a one-day workshop on the 5th of August in Jakarta to present the results of ICRAF’s pilot study on carbon footprints from palm oil production in Indonesia.
New minimum standards on emission reduction effects of biofuels are emerging and exporting countries, such as Indonesia, need to understand the calculations involved.
The pilot study on oil palm in two sites in Sumatra and Kalimantan found that only palm oil produced through conversion from shrub and grassland areas, with aboveground carbon stock less than 40 tons per hectare, can meet the emerging standards.
Dr Meine van Noordwijk, ICRAF Global Science Advisor leading ICRAF researchers during the pilot put an emphasis on another significant output.
“The primary significance of the study is, I believe, that we now have a simple method that can be widely accepted as basis for such calculations.”
Meine applauded the more pro-active parts of the industry starting to pay attention.
“There will be ways for ‘best practice’ to show that parts of the palm oil industry have a better track record than the ‘average’, so that they can escape from the negative overall public image of oil palm, and meet the standards in transparent ways.”
The method, among others putting emphasis on the use of time averaged carbon counting, will be further developed and applied at approximately 30 palm oil plantations in 10 provinces in a research project to end in 2011 under the support of the Netherlands Government.
Suseno, to take the lead, explained that the pilot study was made possible through collaboration with the Indonesian Palm Oil Commission (IPOC), Dewan Minyak Sawit Indonesia, and Pusat Penelitian Kelapa Sawit.
Carbon Footprint of Indonesian Palm Oil Production: a Pilot Study
Biofuel Emission Reduction Estimator Scheme (BERES): Land use history, current production system and technical emission factors
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