Greenpeace PKE action continues in Port Taranaki

Press release - February 5, 2011
Saturday February 5 2011 New Plymouth: Four Greenpeace activists remain inside the cranes on the palm kernel bulk carrier MV Great Motion. One of the five Greenpeace activists who boarded the ship has been removed, and placed under arrest, after five and a half hours on the anchor chain.

The ship is now alongside its berth, where it was due to unload 10,000 tonnes of palm kernel from Indonesia at 10.30am Saturday.

Greenpeace’s action was carried out to call on the Government to put a stop to Fonterra’s soaring use of palm kernel (also know as palm kernel expeller), which is typically grown on land cleared of rainforest and destroyed peatlands, and so which has massive climate impacts.

David Carter’s reported comments today that the palm industry was not associated with deforestation is misinformed and completely contradicted earlier comments by Bill English, who, speaking in as Deputy Prime Minister, acknowledged that the palm industry did impact the environment and that the Government did not deny that.

Deforestation due to the palm and pulp and paper industries is one of the main reasons Indonesia is the third biggest greenhouse gas emitter on the planet.

“The Government has to accept the facts, and act now to protect New Zealand’s clean green brand and the climate, but instead they are sticking their heads in the sand” Argent says.

“Palm kernel is helping drive climate change. And we know that climate change will lead to more extreme weather, like droughts. Agriculture Minister David Carter said in December that droughts in New Zealand were “a clear demonstration of the effects of climate change” and advised farmers to be prepared. "I think we'll see more of these events, not less of them, in the future (1)," he said. Therefore the use of palm kernel is something that needs to be stopped.

“The answer to the problem of needing supplementary feeds is the deindustrialization of Fonterra’s farming system. In the meantime, locally grown feeds such as maize silage can be used to transition to alternatives that are safer for New Zealand’s clean green image.

“Using palm kernel is undermining this country's international clean green reputation, because of its impact on the climate, and rainforests. The Government is now failing in its duties by refusing to take Fonterra to task over its escalating palm kernel use and its industrial dairying technique which is so damaging to the climate,” says Greenpeace NZ Climate Campaigner Nathan Argent.

Palm kernel shipments are literally lining up to come into the country – with a total of three shipments through Port Taranaki this week alone – a cargo of 31,000 tonnes.

“Fonterra’s reported statement that its palm kernel supply will be sustainable by 2014 is of course an admission that its palm kernel supply is almost completely unsustainable today. Another three years of importing unsustainable palm kernel passes on real costs to our climate, tropical rainforests and New Zealand’s clean green brand,” Argent says.

“Fonterra’s assertion is nothing more than a very cheap attempt at greenwashing.

“Only six per cent of the global production of palm products is grown according to the standards of the industry body, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, which are not strong enough,” Argent says.

Reported claims by Fonterra that palm kernel is mainly used in drought are also false. The rapid industrialisation of dairying in New Zealand, driven by Fonterra, is the real culprit, as it relies on supplementary feeds like palm kernel. Since Fonterra was established in 2001, imports of palm kernel expeller have soared from virtually zero (1,554 tonnes in 2000) to a record high of almost 1.4 million tonnes in 2010, according to Statistics New Zealand.

Feeding stock on pasture, using locally grown emergency alternatives to palm kernel (such as maize silage), and moving from the current industrial farming model to low impact practices, are the best options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and protecting our international brand.


For more details, or for an interview with a Greenpeace campaigner, call Jay Harkness, Greenpeace NZ Media and Communications Officer, on 021 495 219.