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Palm Oil Goes Green: The Journey Towards Net-Zero Emissions and Lower Carbon Footprint

The palm oil industry is one of the contributors to deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions.

According to, data shows that palm oil plantations on peatland contribute between 16.6% and 27.9% of total greenhouse gas emissions from Malaysia and Indonesia. Astonishingly this is between 0.44% and 0.74% of annual global emissions.

However, the industry is working increasingly to reduce its carbon footprint and move towards a net-zero future.

Net zero is a term used to describe the balance between the amount of greenhouse gases emitted and the amount removed from the atmosphere. This means reaching a point where emissions are offset by removing the same amount of carbon dioxide equivalent from the atmosphere. This can be achieved in several ways, including carbon capture and storage, reforestation, renewable energy, and carbon trading.

Carbon footprint is the process of measuring the number of greenhouse gases emitted by an organization or industry. It calculates the total amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emitted during a product or service's production, processing and transportation. Carbon footprint is essential for measuring an organization's or industry's impact on the environment and identifying opportunities to reduce emissions.

Carbon footprint is very important for the palm oil industry to identify the primary sources of emissions and implement strategies to reduce them.

According to Efeca Briefing Note January 2022, the main contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in the palm oil industry is land use change (particularly in oil palm grown on peat soils, drainage of peat soils is responsible for 52% of emissions in the life cycle of oil palm grown on peatland plantations). Other emissions sources contribute to the carbon footprint of palm oil, including agricultural inputs, processing, and wastewater generation from palm oil mill effluent.

One way to reduce emissions in the palm oil industry is to implement sustainable practices such as:

  • prohibiting the development of palm plantations on peatland, as drainage of peat soils is a significant source of emissions,

  • establishing free fire policies,

  • improving soil health by minimizing the use of fertilizers and pesticides,

  • enforcing reforestation programs and,

  • utilizing renewable energy sources in processing and transportation.

In order to ensure that these sustainable practices are correctly implemented in the palm oil industry, certification programs are put in place. These programs certify that the industry meets specific standards for sustainable production. By obtaining certification, the industry can demonstrate its commitment to sustainability and responsible land use. One of the palm oil certifications is Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). RSPO is an organization whose purpose is to promote sustainable palm oil production through certification and sustainability standards. RSPO-certified palm oil is produced with less greenhouse gas emissions and less environmental damage than non-certified palm oil.

According to, another way to reduce emissions in the palm oil industry is through the use of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. CCS technology captures carbon emitted from industrial processes and stores it underground, preventing it from being released into the atmosphere. Using CCS technology in the palm oil industry will significantly reduce emissions and help achieve net zero emissions. On the other hand, many experts stated that the use of CCS is expensive and sometimes classified as commercial development. The only way to do this is by using renewable energy, as Greg Bourne stated below in a Climate Council article:

In summary, the palm oil industry significantly impacts the environment and reducing carbon emissions is essential to mitigating climate change. Implementing sustainable practices and certification programs such as RSPO and using CCS technology are some strategies that help reduce emissions and achieve net zero emissions in the palm oil industry. Still, the CCS is classified as a not viable climate solution since it is digging up and burning fossil fuels. The palm oil industry can be crucial in mitigating climate change and promoting environmental sustainability by working towards a net-zero future. 

Peterson can be your trusted partner in navigating the complex and evolving landscape of sustainability standards by assisting your business in achieving palm oil certification like RSPO, ISPO, MSPO etc., and also Net-Zero carbon certification including PAS 2060, ISO 14064-1, ISO 14064-2, UER, Plan Vivo, ISO 14001, and ISO 50001. Our team of experts has extensive experience in providing environmental management solutions. With Peterson, you can demonstrate your commitment to being a sustainable palm oil industry, reducing your carbon footprint and improving operational efficiency. Contact Peterson today at


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