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DIESEL: CAN WE CALL THIS FUEL «GREEN»? Slash-and-burn practices for palm oil cultivation areas are the cause for the release of carbon dioxide. Full view

DIESEL: CAN WE CALL THIS FUEL «GREEN»?

Worldwide palm oil consumption is is growing every year. One of the reasons is the massive biodiesel consumption of the EU. How is the situation in Switzerland?

«biodiesel» – If you hear about it for the first time, you quickly get the feeling that this fuel is a good thing. The global debate on climate change and the related discussion about global oil consumption and the catchphrase of greenhouse gas emissions are driving the consumer’s desire to live more ecologically. Biodiesel is therefore considered to be a «more environmentally friendly» fuel. However in reality it is mixed from various vegetable oils and methanol : In addition to soya, rapeseed and sunflower oil, palm oil is also used.

A study shows that 40% of the palm oil consumtion in the EU is due to biodiesel! This figure has exploded in  the recent years. For the profit of palm oil  huge rainforest areas have been cleared and large quantities of carbon dioxide have been released. The climate change implications due to biodiesel are therefore immense! The study claims  that not using palm oil in biodiesel would  save up to 50% of the total consumption worldwide.

Biodiesel in switzerland
The situation in Switzerland is only marginally comparable to the one in the European Union.
The consumption of biodiesel here  is subject to a number of regulations, which lead to a comparatively low consumption of this fuel.

– The regulations provide that biodiesel is not allowed to be produced at the expense of food production. This means that vegetable oils (such as palm oil) have to be used first as foodstuffs, then as feedstuffs and lastly as fuel. For this reason purified waste oils, instead of palm oil, are often recycled for the production of biodiesel.

– The signature on the Kyoto Protocol obliges Switzerland to reduce CO2 emissions by 50% below the 1990 level by 2030. For this purpose the CO2 law and the CO2 ordinance were passed. These provisions make it for example more difficult to import biodiesel.

– This tightening of regulations on mineral oil taxes since 2008 means that the use of palm oil in biodiesel is expensive for the consumer and therefore there is hardly any demand for it.

Among other things the above mentioned points lead to the fact that hardly any pure biodiesel is available at Swiss filling stations. At many petrol stations, however, mineral oil with a share of approximately 7% biodiesel (no declaration obligation) is sold.

> Further information in the mentioned study
> The effects of palm pil cultivation