Monday, October 24, 2011

Sustainability in Aviation Fuel: Palm Oil is Part of the Solution

For many years, the aviation industry has been criticized for its high carbon GHG emission. Of the total global emissions, 56 % comes from burning of fossil fuels and 17 % from agriculture. The aviation industry alone contributes 649,000,000 tonnes of GHG emission annually which represents 2 to 3 % of the total globally! The Boeing Company and other aviation industry operators held a Forum in Kuala Lumpur recently to explore new sources of renewable biofuels for the aviation industry.

In comparison, calculations reveal that emissions from the oil palm industry are indeed very small. The world oil palm area of 14 million hectares is only 0.25% of global agricultural land. Therefore, the GHG emission from the oil palm industry is 0.25% x 17% or 0.04% of the total global GHG emission. At the country level, Malaysia’s oil palm cultivated area of 4.85 million hectares represents 34.6% of the world’s oil palm cultivated area and hence its GHG footprint is 34.6% x 0.04 % or 0.014% of the global GHG emission. Even doubling the cultivated area for oil palm in Malaysia would see a negligible increase of its GHG footprint to 0.028% of global emission.