Activists block tanker carying palm oil

Feature story - 14 November, 2008
Activists have blocked the operations of another tanker bound for Europe stocked with crude palm oil. The tanker, the Isola Corallo, was supposed to load up today but activists onboard the Esperanza moved into its place alongside the harbour and prevented the Corallo from taking on palm oil.

With the current speed of cutting and burning forests, the Indonesian lowland rainforests will have largely disappeared within the next 15 years.

Earlier this week an activist locked onto the anchor chain of the Isola Corallo for over 36 hours and stopped the cargo ship from moving. After the activist was forced to come down, the Esperanza occupied the palm oil loading facility to prevent the Isola Corrallo from loading Sinar Mas palm oil. The Esperanza was finally forced off the berth by Port authority tugs after a seven hour face-off. Read more about the showdown.

Sustainable or Greenwash?

The palm oil the Corallo was due to collect is owned by the Sinar Mas group, Indonesia's largest palm oil company, they account for around 10% of production. Sinar Mas is a key member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, a self-regulated industry body that celebrated the first shipment to Europe of "sustainable palm oil" this week.

Sustainable palm oil sounds great. However, our investigation shows that the RSPO is little more than greenwash. One company receiving RSPO certification - United Plantations, a supplier of Nestlé and Unilever - is involved with deforestation in the vulnerable peatland forests of Kalimantan in Indonesia. Sinar Mas also is involved with deforestation all over Indonesia, including in Kalimantan and Papua and has aggressive expansion plans for the future.

RSPO certification dictates the rules for plantations that want to become certified. However these rules do not fully prohibit forest clearance, even on peatlands, which is a key element in fighting climate change. In particular, the clearance, drainage, and burning of peatland forests makes Indonesia the third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world. Unfortunately, RSPO members are not obliged to change anything in their practices, until they enter the certification process.

Forests for climate

With the current speed of cutting and burning forests, the Indonesian lowland rainforests will have largely disappeared within the next 15 years, the standards of RSPO are insufficient and in its current form the RSPO will not solve the problems of deforestation in South-East Asia. Both industry and government need to take urgent action to protect our forests.

Today's action follows several weeks of activists on the Forests for Climate Tour taking action and bearing witness.Read more about the Esperanza's journey through Indonesia on the ship tour blog.

Follow the Esperanza in Google Earth by downloading this KMZ file, and on Twitter.

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Write to the Indonesian president, demanding an end to the destruction

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