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Millions of people running small-time oil palm plantations will suffer if the European Parliament goes ahead with “unfair” measures that could curb palm oil use, the world’s two largest palm oil producers said on Wednesday. In April, the European Parliament backed a call for greater vetting of palm and other vegetable oils used in biofuels to prevent the European Union’s renewable transport targets for post-2020 leading to deforestation. Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak and Indonesian President Joko Widodo said the resolution by the European Parliament singles out palm oil, even as the production of other vegetable oils has “shown to contribute to the deforestation”. They said restricting market access for palm oil would also work against the United Nations’ goal of eradicating poverty and raising income levels. “Any discriminatory measures arising from the Resolution will not only be seen as unfair practices to trade but will also affect the livelihood of millions of palm smallholders in Indonesia and Malaysia,” the two leaders said in a joint statement. This is the first time top leaders from both the countries have weighed in on the issue.
Najib and Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, had met in the Malaysian state of Kuching for the 12th annual consultation between both countries. The European Parliament’s resolution calls for a single Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) scheme for Europe-bound palm and other vegetable oil exports to ensure they are produced in an environmentally sustainable way. EU lawmakers said the move was a bid for a wider discussion on the issues after environmental groups such as Greenpeace warned of harmful impact on climate mitigation and biodiversity. While the report is not binding, EU lawmakers are now reviewing and proposing amendments to EU draft targets on biofuels, which will then go before the European Commission and member states.