Discriminatory policies against palm oil have long been by palm oil producing countries. It is obvious that the marketing ploys used by some companies are pure acts of discrimination against palm oil which are directed to consumers. These unacceptable smear campaigns have been echoed in policies and regulations by governments and regional organization such as the European Union. For that reason, as part of the advocacy campaign using facts and science, CPOPC launched a public complaint in July 2021 on the Commission Consultation on Sustainable biofuels, bio liquids and biomass fuels (https://bit.ly/feedbackCPOPC) urging the European Commission to stand on the right side of history on sustainable energy.
This was done to challenge the anti-palm oil position of energy companies like TotalEnergies. In its reply to a letter sent by the CPOPC Secretariat, Total Energies acknowledged that it would stop the use of palm oil by 2023.
The Secretariat underscored that “…TotalEnergies is no longer concerned about sustainable supply chains for palm oil, nor the successful efforts of our member governments to mitigate CO2 emissions by addressing deforestation and wildfire, nor the economic and social benefits to the rural population; nor of the general importance of palm oil to the concerned economies in Asia, Africa and Latin America.”
In its response, TotalEnergies recognized the strong efforts from palm oil producing countries to produce sustainable palm oil products and that it diligently screens purchased palm oils for its La Mède refinery but that they continue to receive pressure from groups opposed to the use of palm oil in France. Total Energies added that the company’s decision is based on the decision of the French Parliament to withdraw tax incentives for palm oil as a biofuel feedstock.
Objective readers would recognize the contradictory position of TotalEnergies which recognized that its palm oil is sourced sustainably but has not provided similar assurances of environmental quality for its substitutes.
In addition, for TotalEnergies to suggest that the company’s use of Used Cooking Oil (UCO) and animal fats as alternative feedstocks will be sustainable is equally indefensible. There is no doubt that animal agriculture is a major contributor to climate change and that there would not be enough animal fats to produce sustainable energy if the science-based fact to reduce animal agriculture is adopted globally to fight climate change. TotalEnergies has yet to provide explanations on how its use of UCO is more sustainable than palm-based biofuels.
The CPOPC Secretariat expresses its deep displeasure towards TotalEnergies in preying upon palm oil by making a public statement against palm oil when it is obvious that substitutes are not proven to be more sustainable. The CPOPC Secretariat is of the view that a company has no right to cast shadows over the credibility of an entire agricultural sector for short-term political and economic gain. Excluding palm oil is indeed a regression from the genuine interests of palm oil producing countries and the millions of smallholders of the Global South to meet the UN SDGs.