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Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth Netherlands) and Walhi (Friends of the Earth Indonesia) have just published a new report:
Biokerosene: Take-off in the wrong direction
Trends and consequences of the rapid development of aviation biofuels, as shown by the impacts of jatropha cultivation on local people in Central Java
Foreword by Berry Nahdian Forqan, Executive Director of Walhi:
In January 2012, Lufthansa said they were very satisfied with their six-month trial of biokerosene, `Burn Fair', which had gone smoothly. The use of biokerosene made
from jatropha and other oils was celebrated as a technical and environmental success.
Not a single word was said about the Javanese farmers and workers, who have
converted some of their land from food to fuel crops, in return for ridiculously low
payments. For them, the introduction of jatropha has led to a fall in income, conflict
As Lufthansa calls for biokerosene production to be expanded to a commercial scale,
it looks once again as though the lifeblood of Indonesia will be tapped for the benefit
of wealthier people in Europe and elsewhere. Faced with rising fuel prices and the changing climate, the aviation industry is looking for a license to grow. They claim that in future large quantities of biofuels will be able to replace kerosene from fossil fuel. They claim that flying on biofuels will substantially reduce emissions. Plans have been drawn up to switch from fossil kerosene to biokerosene, while continuing to increase levels of air traffic.
But the idea that using biofuels for aviation on a large scale can be green is a dangerous myth:
Growing crops for biofuels such as biokerosene needs land and this comes at the cost of food production. Like fossil fuel, biokerosene emits high levels of greenhouse gases, particularly during flight at high altitudes. Pushing the use of biofuels will make the global food and climate crises worse. The only solution to the problem is to reduce air traffic, foremost in Europe. This
might not be a welcome message for the aviation industry or for frequent fliers, but it is a blessing for poorer people in the South who suffer twice: from the effects of climate change and from the loss of valuable land which is used to grow fuel instead of food.
We hope that this report will inspire policy makers, business people and consumers alike to look for sustainable alternatives to air travel and by cutting the amount of miles they spend up in the air to contribute to a world that is both more just and sustainable.