Lufthansa has recently been using biokerosene made from jatropha, an inedible plant. The jatropha used for Lufthansa’s test flights comes from Indonesia. The small farmers in central Java who grow the jatropha are suffering. And flying on biokerosene isn’t good for the environment either, despite Lufthansa’s claims that it is, according to Milieudefensie’s recently published report, ‘Biokerosene: Takeoff in the wrong direction’.
The Indonesian government and the Dutch company Waterland promised the sky to the farmers and agricultural workers, calling the jatropha plant the ‘money tree’. But the farmers haven’t gotten richer – in fact they’re poorer than ever. Growing jatropha for Lufthansa and other companies, they’ve seen their incomes take a nosedive. The farmers now only earn half or a third of what they used to earn. Moreover, they now have to buy food at the market more often–food that they used to grow themselves.
Lufthansa began testing biokerosene last year. The airline flew four times a day between Hamburg and Frankfurt on a mix of regular kerosene and biokerosene. In the meantime, Lufthansa has stopped the test flights, citing problems with the supply of sufficient raw materials. Nevertheless Lufthansa is calling the trial a success. In the future they intend to work with producers in the South on getting higher yields. Lufthansa is already indicating that some of the fuel will come from Indonesia.
Write to Joachim Buse, Lufthansa’s Vice President for Aviation Biofuel. Ask him to stop using Jatropha from the Waterland company and not to use biokerosene for commercial flights.
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