Target: Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and Prime Minister Enrico Letta
Goal: Stop a biofuel refinery from destroying Indonesian and Malaysian rainforests, including critical wildlife habitat.
Italian oil giant Agip-Eni, which is partially owned by the Italian government, is planning to modify an oil refinery in Venice to process crude palm oil into biofuels. While shifting to biofuels is often promoted as a way to combat climate change and reduce reliance on petroleum, in this case the conversion will do more harm than good. The reason is that palm oil processed in the refinery would come primarily from Indonesia and Malaysia, where some of the world’s last great expanses of tropical rainforests are being destroyed to make room for palm oil plantations. In fact, growing enough palm oil to keep the refinery running at full capacity would require clearing 180,000 hectares of rainforests.
While looking for alternatives to fossil fuel-based energy is a good idea, destroying rainforests to grow palm oil is not an environmentally sound solution. Because forests act as a natural carbon sink, destroying rainforests actually makes climate change even worse, while pushing hundreds of endangered and threatened species closer to the brink of extinction. Orangutans, tigers, and Asian elephants are just a few of the imperiled species that call the Indonesian and Malaysian rainforests home.
For Agip-Eni’s disastrous project to be stopped, the Italian government needs to hear from people around the world that destroying rainforests for palm oil isn’t just an environmental disaster – it’s also jeopardizing Italy’s environmental image, and hurting the European Union’s goal of reducing carbon emissions. Sign the petition below to demand that this misguided project be cancelled.
Dear President Napolitano and Prime Minister Letta,
We, the undersigned, are writing to urge the Italian government to cancel all support for Agip-Eni’s plan to convert a refinery in Venice to process palm oil into biofuels. While shifting away from petroleum-based fuels is a worthy goal, palm oil is not an ethically or environmentally sound alternative. Palm oil plantations displace rainforests in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, resulting in carbon emissions from deforestation that negate any benefits from switching away from petroleum-based oil. On top of that, the expansion of palm oil plantations is threatening endangered species like the orangutan. If we really want to curb climate change and contribute to a healthier environment, palm oil-based biofuels are clearly not the solution.
We worry that Italy’s backing of this project is damaging the European Union’s reputation as a leader on climate change and environmental responsibility. We hope you will act quickly to withdraw the Italian government’s support for the Agip-Eni refinery conversion, and stand up for rainforests and a healthy climate.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Arian Zwegers via Flickr