Too bad for the planet: to please Total, but also to Malaysia and Indonesia, the Minister authorizes the import of 300.000 tons per year of this decried product.
It has certainly become a little too easy to be ironic on the rostrum of snakes, which Nicolas Hulot, Minister of Ecological Transition, has been giving for a year. But this one is too big to let pass, it's a boa. Wednesday, with the green light of the minister, the prefecture of Bouches-du-Rhone authorized the Total group to operate a biorefinery on its site of Mède, near the pond of Berre. As of this summer, Total will import at least 300.000 tons of palm oil per year, which represents an increase in French imports of this 36% product.
In July 2017, presenting his climate plan, Nicolas Hulot proposed to "close the window of opportunity that allows to incorporate palm oil in fuels". But as soon as he was appointed, the minister quickly had to backtrack.
A monstrous deforestation
Palm oil has many qualities: it is easy to cultivate, and therefore inexpensive; it is a very stable product, resistant to heat and oxidation; it is easy to "work" in an industrial process. But as we know, it's a horror. Not so much for health, although its saturated fats are not a panacea. To extract it, one indulges in Indonesia and Malaysia (90% of the production) to a monstrous deforestation, in order to plant palm oil.
However, who says deforestation says massacre of the last orangutans and gibbons, destruction of biodiversity, extremely polluting burning, expropriations of villages ... But also aggravation of global warming. Because, as Nicolas Hulot recalled before he was a minister, "deforestation is responsible for 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions". According to a study commissioned in 2016 by the European Commission, palm oil is three times more harmful in terms of greenhouse effects than fossil fuels.
The proportions of this palm oil industry are gigantic. It's not just about adding a few grams to Nutella: palm oil makes up a quarter of all the oil produced in the world. Crisps with mayonnaise, this vegetable fat is present in 80% of industrialized food products and 20% of beauty products. It is used mainly for the fuel industry: in France, 75% of imported palm oil ends up in vehicle tanks.
Nicolas Hulot's decision seems incomprehensible. It is contrary to the interests of French rapeseed producers. It is contrary to the interests of the planet - and there is no "planet B", to paraphrase Emmanuel Macron who swears to have made the fight against global warming his priority. It is contrary to the opinion of the European Parliament, which in January voted to abolish the use of palm oil in fuel by 2021. Finally, it is contrary to what the minister himself thinks in the depths of himself. Asked about BFMTV-RMC, he tried to justify himself by explaining that it was transitory, that he had negotiated with Patrick Pouyané, the boss of Total, so that the share of palm oil is limited and reduced each year to used oils ... But not enough to calm ecological organizations.
Pleasing Total, Indonesia and Malaysia
Why this decision? Two explanations. The first is an effective lobbying of Total, which seeks to save the site of Mède. Patrick Pouyané, the boss, is a fan of Emmanuel Macron: he may have been director of the cabinet of François Fillon, he supported the opponent of the latter during his campaign and he can not stop praising this president which, he says, makes France make "a leap towards modernity". Macron, on the other hand, regards Total as one of the most strategic groups in France.
Second explanation, even more cynical: France sells arms and planes to Indonesia and Malaysia. And these countries threaten not to buy these machines if Paris harmed their exports. To torpedo a French palm oil tax project, Indonesia, in 2016, had threatened not to order Airbus A400M military transport. And according to the "New Factory", Malaysia is doing the same today: it threatens to no longer buy 18 Rafale in discussion.
After the European Parliament voted in favor of banning palm oil in fuels in January, France had already indicated that it would oppose it. It confirms today its very little focus "Make the Planet Great again", to quote the ambitious slogan of Emmanuel Macron. The "window of opportunity" evoked in 2017 Nicolas Hulot remains, alas, wide open and its hinges well oiled.
This confirms the Macron method, the establishment of N.Hulot served as an ecological screen, and with the release of ballast on secondary issues (abandonment of the airport project of Notre Dame des Landes, closing of Fessenheim) the principle remains the same: continue in the worst ...