Norway’s use of palm oil biodiesel sees 70% drop

Norway’s palm oil biodiesel consumption has seen a 70% drop from 2017 to 2018, according to figures from the Norwegian Environment Agency (NEA) released on 3 May.

The country consumed 93M litres of palm oil-based biodiesel in 2018, compared to 317M litres in 2017, a reduction of 224M litres.

“It is a big win for rainforests and the climate when we stop burning palm oil for fuel,” said Nils Hermann Ranum, head of Rainforest Foundation Norway (RFN)’s drivers of deforestation programme. “To combat climate change and stop the burning of the world’s rainforests, we need solutions that deliver.”

RFN said that Europe had seen an aggressive growth in demand for palm oil, which had been stimulated by policies to increase the consumption of renewable energy in transportation and driven by the expansion of Indonesian and Malaysian oil palm plantations.

In 2017, a total of around 4bn litres of palm oil was used for biofuel in the EU.

RFN said debate on the land use and climate change impacts of palm oil-based biofuel had led to a number of policy shifts.

In October 2018, the Norwegian government announced that a biofuel blending mandate for the aviation industry would be imposed from 2020.

In December the same year, Norway became the first country to exclude biofuels based on high deforestation risk feedstocks (such as palm oil) from 2020. The details of regulatory measures were due to be presented in October 2019.

The EU had also passed legislation to eliminate the use of such biofuels, but this would entail a gradual phase out by 2030, RFN said.

Addtionally, four of Norway’s five major fuel retailers had voluntarily discontinued the sale of palm oil-based biofuel.

RFN said the NEA’s figures also showed that Norway had increased its advanced biofuels usage by almost 40% to 190M litres.