If, as you read this, you're tucking into a KitKat or dipping into a tube of Pringles, you might be interested to know that these products contain palm oil that is linked to the destruction of forests and peatlands in Indonesia. As our new report "How the palm oil industry is cooking the climate" shows, it's a recipe for disaster.
The sharp contrast between the pristine rainforest and the area destroyed to make way for palm oil plantations in Indonesia.
The manufacturers of these products - Nestlé, Procter &
Gamble, and Unilever - are sourcing their palm oil from suppliers
who aren't picky about where they site their plantations. As the
volunteers at the
Forest Defenders Camp in Sumatra have seen, this includes
tearing up areas of pristine forest then draining and burning the
Indonesia's peatlands act as huge carbon stores so replacing
them with plantations them not only threatens the amazing
biodiversity, including the rare Sumatran tiger, it also releases
huge volumes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. They only
cover 0.1 per cent of the land on Earth, but thanks in part to the
activities of the palm oil industry they contribute 4 per cent to
global emissions. If expansion of the palm oil industry continues
unabated, that figure can only rise.
All this is a little unnerving as the three companies mentioned
above are members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO),
a group of retailers, manufacturers and suppliers who also include
multinational suppliers Cargill and ADM. The aim of the group is to
create clear standards for producing sustainable palm oil but at
present those standards are far too weak to ensure that forests and
peatlands are not destroyed to meet growing demand for palm
We have more information about the problems with
palm oil, and if you still have questions try the
palm oil FAQ. We will be asking retailers and food companies to
stop trading with those suppliers who are trashing the forests and
peatlands of Indonesia, and when that happens we will be asking for
Global problem, Global solution?
What's to be done? The Indonesian government should urgently
introduce a moratorium on forest and peatland destruction, which
will provide a chance to develop long-term solutions and prevent
further emissions from deforestation. And our eyes are fixed firmly
on the UN climate meeting in Bali next month, where the next phase
of the Kyoto Protocol will be discussed. With deforestation
accounting for up to
a fifth of global emissions, including financing for forest
protection as a core part of the plan to tackle climate change is
"At next month's UN climate conference in Bali, political
leaders must wake up to the fact that we need to make deep cuts in
greenhouse gas emissions, and make them fast," said Pat Venditti,
head of Greenpeace International's Forest Campaign. "Protecting
peatlands and other forest areas from destruction is one of the
most simple, cost-effective insurance options against global
The international scientific consensus on climate change is that
avoiding the worst impacts of climate change demands global warming
be kept as far as possible below 2 degrees Celsius. Emissions of
greenhouse gases need to have peaked globally by 2015 and then
begin a rapid decline.
We need governments meeting in Bali to agree to negotiate a new
funding mechanism to protect the world's remaining tropical forests
as a critical component of the next phase of the Kyoto Protocol.
The resulting reductions in emissions from deforestation must be
additional to cuts in emissions from burning fossil fuels.
Read updates from our activists at the Forest Defenders Camp in Indonesia.
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