28 February 2019
The Guardian's article details the meteoric rise of palm oil as a global commodity since the mid-1900s, including its more recent role as a source of biofuel.
The 1997 European Commission report called for an increase in the percentage of total energy consumption from renewable sources, later citing the environmental benefits of biofuels for transport. In 2009, the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) was passed, which included a 10% target for the share of transport fuels coming from biofuels by 2020. These policies led to a massive increase in the production and use of palm oil with EU palm oil imports rising 15% the year after the RED, and 19% the following year as biofuel use tripled in the EU between 2011 and 2014.
More recent efforts to introduce sustainability criteria and certification have proved difficult to implement, and the EU’s policy is now about to change with RED II expected to ban the use of palm oil.