EESC delegates' chronicles from the UN Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa
Today we had our long-prepared side event here in sultry Durban. We really hit the mark with our topic: pure vegetable oil as a source of new regional energy cycles. Our first-class speakers – the president of the German Federal Environmental Agency, Jochen Flasbarth, and Jo Leinen, chair of the European Parliament's Committee on the Environment – made clear that the future lies in the cultivation of vegetable oils and their direct, decentralised processing and exploitation, particularly in customised agro-machinery. And Prof. Pickel from tractor manufacturer John Deere cleared up one misconception: tractors run perfectly well on vegetable oils produced in a decentralised manner. And this approach is good for the climate, biodiversity and the local economy at the same time; it can also create new jobs and sources of income, making an important contribution from agriculture to sustainable development. Alexander Müller, vice-director of the FAO, put the exploitation of pure vegetable oils in a global context. In order to tackle the dramatic global hunger crisis, which in many parts of the world will grow more acute through further population growth and climate change, vegetable oil-based regional energy cycles will be indispensable.
But something else was made clear: biomass such as vegetable oil is certainly renewable, but not available in unlimited quantities. It won't solve all of our energy problems. Contributing to a lively debate, representatives from India, Bangladesh and Singapore made clear that, on the one hand, successful little projects have also begun in their regions, but that, on the other, the new European hunger for energy from renewable sources is creating problems. For where cultivation of energy crops supplants cultivation of food – and examples of this are increasing in number – new problems and injustices emerge. This is an issue that will continue to come up in the EESC.
Schön, dass wir endlich von diesem unqualifizierten Pflanzenöl-bashing weg, hin zur Verwirklichung konstruktiver Lösungen kommen und diese auch wahr genommen werden. Das Scheitern von Durban macht dezentrale Konzepte "von unten" nun noch wichtiger.