Monday, 5 May 2008

Unilever palm oil policy wins fans

Good to see this being reported in Indonesia and good work done by Greenpeace, which I hope all of us will support and build on; it's the best news out of Indonesia in a long time. Hardi and COP have some related media activity scheduled for this week - more about this later.

Unilever palm oil policy wins fans

Monday, May 5, 2008

Adianto P. Simamora , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta Mon, 05/05/2008 National

Environmental group Greenpeace has echoed calls by consumer goods giant Unilever to impose a moratorium on deforestation in Indonesia in support for the company's pledge to purchase only certified sustainable palm oil.

Greenpeace also urged the country's palm oil plantations to use sustainable forest management methods and stop expanding into peatland forests.

"Unilever's calls for a moratorium on forest destruction in Indonesia should become an entry point for the government to stop the deforestation process," Greenpeace Southeast Asia political advisor Arif Wicaksono told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.

"The government has to take action to reverse deforestation by initiating a moratorium on logging and forest conversion."

Unilever has committed to using only palm oil from certified sustainable sources from the second half of this year.

The company said it would ensure the palm oil it used in Europe was also certified as sustainable by 2012.

"Now we need to take the next step," Unilever chief executive Patrick Cescau said in a statement in London on Thursday.

"Suppliers need to move to meet the criteria, by getting certified both the palm oil from their own plantations and the palm oil they buy from elsewhere."

Unilever is the world's biggest consumer of palm oil, which it uses in leading brands such as Dove, Persil and Flora.

The company's decision came after a Greenpeace campaign revealed Unilever's suppliers are actively destroying orangutan habitat and clearing Indonesia's peatlands and rain forests.
According to Greenpeace, destruction of peatland rain forests contributes 4 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Greenhouse gas emissions are considered the main contributor to climate change.
The environmental group also said about 1,600 orangutans were killed on palm oil plantations during 2006.

Arif said companies using palm oil and members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) should join forces with Unilever to stop ongoing forest destruction in Indonesia.
The RSPO is an initiative of an association of palm oil producers to promote the growth and use of sustainable palm oil.

"Even though the RSPO has existed since 2002, there is still no certified palm oil on the market," Greenpeace said.

Agriculture Minister Anton Apriyantono ordered governors to stop awarding new permits for the palm oil industry in peatlands last year. The order was issued as Indonesia hosted the climate change conference in Bali, which directed all countries to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

A 2006 report from Wetlands International found damage to Indonesia's peatlands resulted in 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, making the country the world's third largest emitter after the United States and China.

"But we have seen no changes since the minister's order. Many regents still grant permits to dig in peatland forests," Arif said.

"Greenpeace is not calling for an end to the palm oil industry but it is calling for an end to forest destruction."