The sharp contrast between the pristine rainforest and the area destroyed to make way for palm oil plantations in Indonesia.
A moratorium would buy time, and allow proper regulations to be
put in place that protect the rainforest in years to come.
Unilever's announcement is potentially good news for orang-utans
and for the climate.
Speaking at the May Day Climate Change Summit attended by Prince
Charles and the UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, he also promised
that all of Unilever's palm oil would be sustainably sourced by
2015. Although we've already warned him that promises of
sustainable palm oil will amount to nothing unless Unilever's
suppliers stop trashing Indonesia's rainforests. Now we want to see
some of the other big palm oil buyers, like Nestle and Procter
& Gamble, join with Unilever to create change on the
Only last week, we launched a new campaign asking Unilever, the
company behind some of the world's most famous brands including
Dove, to join us in pushing for a moratorium on rainforest
destruction in Indonesia.
Early morning Monday April 21st, Unilever's workers in the
UK, the Netherlands
were greeted by our very own screeching orang-utans clambering over
their headquarters. The orang-utans aim? To highlight one of the
biggest environmental crimes of our time - the destruction of their
homes for, amongst other things, our beauty products.
The destruction of the world's rainforests and peatlands to make
way for increased palm-oil plantations is driving climate change
and pushing species, such as the orang-utan, to the brink of
extinction. Every time rainforest is trashed, huge amounts of
greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere. The destruction
of rainforests accounts for a fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions
- that's more than all the planes, trains and cars in the
Tens of thousands of people joined in by signing our open letter
to Dove, contacting Unilever directly and spreading the word.
"One big reason Unilever is taking this seriously so quickly is
thanks to all of you who signed our open letter or contacted
Unilever directly - your support is vital," said Tim Birch,
Greenpeace forests campaigner. "To get real on the ground
protection for Indonesia's forests, we need everyone's help to keep
the pressure up - working together we can save these forests, the
orang-utans and the climate".
Palm oil and forest destruction
Rampant expansion of palm oil plantations is the leading cause
of rainforest destruction in Indonesia. Unilever, as the world's
biggest consumer of palm oil, is driving this expansion and as a
result is fuelling rainforest destruction. For every 20 litres of
palm oil produced in Indonesia, one litre ends up in Unilever's
The main problem is that Unilever continues to buy palm oil from
dodgy suppliers who burn rainforest and drain peatlands that are
protected under Indonesian law to clear space for more
plantations. Having lost their homes, orang-utans are forced to
look elsewhere for food and often palm plantations are the nearest
source. It's estimated that over 1600 orang-utans were killed on
palm oil plantations in 2006 alone.
To coincide with the launch of the campaign we published a new
report - '
How Unilever's suppliers are Burning up Borneo' - containing
new evidence from field research carried out by Greenpeace which
showing the devastating effect that the palm oil sector is having
on biodiversity. By mapping out areas controlled by Unilever's
suppliers, the report explains how the companies with direct links
are now clearing the last remaining orang-utan habitats.
So, where now for our campaign? Well, whilst we think Unilever
has made a good first step, we need to keep up the pressure to make
sure that they stop trading with rainforest destroying suppliers
and more importantly that some of the other big companies, like
Nestle and Procter & Gamble get onboard.
They need to act fast - orang-utan numbers have already declined
by 90 percent and time to save the climate is running out. It's
going to take serious and fast action by the big corporate players,
like Unilever, as well as the political clout of governments to
deliver the sorts of changes we need to see. With your help, we'll
continue to keep up the pressure on Unilever and other companies to
make sure we see real action on the ground and an end to rainforest
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