As global demand for edible oil keeps growing, palm oil has enjoyed unprecedented growth both in consumption and production. Used in everything from chocolate to ice-cream, lipstick to shampoo, palm oil is now the most consumed vegetable oil in the world. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has brought a halt to the palm oil industry’s growth streak as nations enforce lockdown of varying degrees. But 2020 has been far from an uneventful year for the industry. Here are the highlights of palm oil stories from 2020 in Indonesia — by far the world’s biggest producer and exporter of the commodity — ranging from a diplomatic spat, to shady corporate conduct, to corruption and deforestation. Forest cleared to make way for palm oil plantation in Indonesia. Activists are worried that Indonesia’s biodiesel program will lead to wider deforestation for oil palm plantations as the government has estimated it will need to establish 15 million hectares (37 million acres) of new plantations. Image by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay. Indonesia’s biodiesel program   Since 2015, the Indonesian government has subsidized producers of palm oil-based biodiesel to ensure its pump price is competitive with conventional diesel. The subsidy is funded by tariffs on palm oil exports, but a drop in the price of the commodity this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a shortfall that’s forced the government to pony up $195 million from the state budget to cover the subsidy. That figure is only expected to swell over time as the government proceeds with…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer