Belgium is set to ban biofuels made from soy and palm oil from next year over concerns about deforestation.
The country’s Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Zakia Khattabi said: “These fuels have little or no advantage over conventional fossil fuels from a climate point of view, but lead to deforestation, loss of biodiversity and even human rights violations.
“We know from studies that at least half of those palm oil plantations have been planted on land that has recently been deforested.”
Khattabi said consumption of palm oil-based biodiesel in Belgium increased tenfold between 2019 and 2020 to 231 million liters, a volume that requires a land area of “more than 100,000 football fields.”
Belgium joins Denmark, France, and the Netherlands as other European nations that have barred palm oil-based biodiesel due the crop’s association with large-scale conversion of native forests and peatlands for industrial plantations in Malaysia and Indonesia.
The two countries are taking legal action against the EU over its plans to restrict palm oil-based biofuls.
Soy-based biodiesel will be banned from the Belgian transport market in 2023. Soy has emerged as a significant driver of deforestation in the Amazon and Chaco forests in South America over the past 30 years.
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