Malaysia to join EU panel on indirect land use change


Malaysia has agreed to nominate experts to sit in the European Commission’s Expert Panel on Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) that could impact the future use of palm oil as part of the biofuel mix within the European Renewable Energy Directive (RED) II.

Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok (picture) said the initiative by the European Commission would allow cross consultation with palm oil producers, including Malaysian palm oil experts, on various key scientific principles under ILUC.

“This consultation process is important as we do not want our palm oil to be discriminated upon,” she said in a statement yesterday.

The ILUC is generally not supported by industry and academic experts since the principles upon which it is based are fraught with unproven assumptions.

“Indeed, the very basis of defining the concept of ILUC has not been universally verified, even within the European Union (EU).

“Malaysia’s concern is that this could determine the future use of palm oil as part of the EU’s RED II mandate despite the uncertainty surrounding ILUC,” she said.

Kok added that an expert panel from the European Commission would visit Malaysia end-October to hold discussions with Malaysian experts on the issue.

The minister also said it is extremely important for the EU expert panel to get a firsthand account of Malaysian palm oil cultivation and processing practices so they could appreciate the complexity of various operations executed to produce sustainable palm oil.

She said the move is positive in light of concerns that EU might use ILUC criteria to justify phasing out or restricting palm oil in the RED II mandate.

“Malaysia is willing to listen and actively participate in any debate on ILUC. However, we stress that this should not be lopsided against palm oil and even other crops.

“If the criteria that define ILUC are not based on well-accepted scientific principles, Malaysia will use various international fora and trade negotiations to secure a just outcome for our palm oil exports,” she assured.

Meanwhile, Kok said Malaysia and Indonesia, as producer nations that depend on palm oil for a healthy GDP and founding members of the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries, aim to not only strengthen the council’s membership to enrol other palm oil producers but also use it to address the challenges in Europe.

She also said the Malaysian government would continue to engage and hold dialogues with various institutions in the EU to address concerns over palm oil.