On July 30, 2019, environmental NGOs in Japan and abroad that address climate change and forest conservation, including Friends of the Earth Japan, Plantation Watch, and Japan Tropical Forest Action Network (JATAN), have submitted 148,588 signatures asking H.I.S, a major travel agency in Japan to withdraw from its palm oil-fueled biomass power plant business which is under construction in Kakuda City, Miyagi Prefecture.
From overseas, 65 countries such as Germany, France, The United Kingdom, The United States of America, Indonesia and Malaysia have signed this petition. The number of signatures has increased even after submission, and has now exceeded 150,000 signatures.
The petition points out that palm oil is destroying tropical forests and peatlands in the development of oil palm plantations during production, with the high emissions of greenhouse gases through land use, conversion, processing and transportation. In addition, the enormous increase in demand for biomass power generation is also pointed out.
H.I.S. declined the environmental NGO's offer to directly hand in the signatures and to exchange opinions, so the signatures were submitted by post.
Executive director Kanna Mitsuta from Friends of the Earth Japan commented, “Palm oil generation is a threat to biodiversity and climate change as it becomes a pressure to develop tropical forests. We have appealed several times to H.I.S. about these problems. However, construction has started. H.I.S. should respond to the concerns of nearly 150,000 people."
Sayoko Iinuma from Plantation Watch said “The expansion of palm oil-producing oil palm plantations is the biggest threat to tropical forest decline in Southeast Asia. The use of palm oil as fuel for biomass creates new demand which is going to have a big impact."
Director Miyuki Tomari from Biomass Industrial Society Network (BIN) pointed out “The Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) system is made up of the tax from electric power consumers. It does not make sense that they FIT system supports biomass power generation, which produces huge emission-effective gases and is not limited just to palm oil."
According to the research of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), the greenhouse gas emissions generated by palm oil for cultivation, processing and transportation are comparable to LNG even if the emissions of greenhouse gases due to deforestation and peatland development are excluded.
We plan to continue the petition for the time being. We kindly ask for your cooperation.
Petition website (Japanese and English)
Overseas website (Rainforest Rescue):
Reference: What are the problems? Palm oil power generation Q&A (Japanese)
Environmental organizations release joint proposal on biomass power generation (English)
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
Biomass Sustainability Working Group (Japanese)