The Indonesian Government’s attempt to rescue crude palm oil prices and reduce the cost of importing oil by boosting biofuel subsidies, could be disastrous for Sumatran’s endangered species by encouraging deforestation.
President Joko Widodo’s government has proposed an increase of the biodiesel subsidy to 5,000 rupiah (40 US cents) per litre, from 1,500 rupiah per litre presently, said Dadan Kusdiana, director of bioenergy at the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry. This proposal is included in the Indonesia revised state budget for 2015, which is due to be voted on later this month.
Encouraging the biofuel industry may lead to increased land grabs by giant palm oil companies as they fight to cash in. It is these big corporates that the recently elected president criticised for environmental damage in the investigations of the large scale burning of land that hit the news in recent years. According to a recent article in the Jakarta Globe, environmental campaigners see this as a “big blunder”.
Although certain large palm oil companies are moving towards more sustainable practices and “zero deforestation” policies, there are still many more whose unscrupulous practices have a detrimental effect on the lives of Sumatran tigers, orangutans, elephants and rhinos.
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