Australia is contributing directly to the widespread destruction of tropical rainforests in Indonesia and Malaysia by importing millions of mt of taxpayer-subsidised bio-diesel made from palm oil, the Australian reports.
Imports of the fuel are rising, undermining the Government's $200 million commitment to reduce deforestation in the region -- a problem that globally contributes to 20% of the world's carbon emissions. Without action, the problem will only get worse, with demand for bio-diesel imports likely to rise sharply when NSW legislates to introduce Australia's first bio-diesel mandate – 2% this year, rising to 5% when sufficient supplies become available. But the Government is likely to come under pressure to follow the lead of other Western nations in banning imports of palm oil-based bio-diesel. Bio-diesel manufacturers in Australia use primarily tallow from abattoirs and recycled cooking oil. (27 January 2009)