Indonesian Palm Oil Plantation Expansion to Emit More Greenhouse Gases Than Canada by 2020

palm oil photo

Another measurement of the massive greenhouse gas emissions from the expansion of palm oil plantations in Indonesia, expansion that often occurs at the expense of carbon-storing rainforest: A new study in Nature Climate Change projects that by 2020, palm oil plantations will emit over 558 million metric tons of CO2—more than all the emissions from fossil fuels burned in Canada.

In 2010 alone land clearance in Kalimantan (the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo) emitted CO2 equivalent to 28 million cars. Since 1990 palm oil plantation expansion has been responsible for 60% of forest loss in Kalimantan, an area the size of all of Hawaii.

The researchers say that as of 2010 about 80% of land leased for palm oil plantations has yet to be planted. This land occupies an area slightly smaller than Greece, with most leases taking up parcels the land the size of the island of Manhattan. Should all of these leases be planted, over one-third of all of Kalimantan's lowland will be converted to palm oil plantation.

Read the research: Nature Climate Change

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