Greenpeace campaign forces Unilever u-turn on palm oil

Press release - 1 May, 2008
Greenpeace today welcomed Unilever’s call for a moratorium on rainforest destruction in Indonesia, that is wiping out orang-utans and devastating the climate.

1st May 2008, Amsterdam - Greenpeace today welcomed Unilever's call for a moratorium on rainforest destruction in Indonesia, that is wiping out orang-utans and devastating the climate.

In a speech delivered in London today, CEO Patrick Cescau supported Greenpeace's demand for a complete halt to the destruction of Indonesia's rainforest and peatlands for palm oil. He also promised that all of Unilever's palm oil would be sustainable by 2015. However, the environmental group warned that without a halt to deforestation, Unilever's efforts to source sustainable palm oil would be doomed to fail.

This decision follows a new Greenpeace campaign exposing how Unilever's suppliers are actively destroying orang-utan habitats and clearing Indonesia's peatlands and rainforests. Destruction of Indonesia's peatland rainforests contributes 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Greenpeace insisted that other big corporate palm oil users and members of the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (including Procter & Gamble, Kraft, and Nestle) now need to join forces with Unilever and insist that palm oil suppliers immediately agree to stop ongoing forest destruction.

Last week Greenpeace volunteers dressed as orang-utans breached security at Unilever's headquarters across Europe to highlight the company's role in rainforest destruction for palm oil.

Reacting to the news, Greenpeace International forest campaigner, Tim Birch said

"Unilever's commitment to sourcing sustainable palm oil will be meaningless unless its suppliers stop trashing Indonesia's rainforests - this is why the moratorium is so important. Every day Unilever keeps buying palm oil from these suppliers, orang-utans are being pushed closer to extinction and climate change continues unabated.

Other companies like Nestle and Procter&Gamble now need to join forces with Unilever to exert real pressure on the ground. Greenpeace will not stop its campaign until there is a complete halt to forest destruction in Indonesia."

VVPR info: Greenpeace International forest campaigner, Tim Birch on 00 44 7801 212 960For comment in Indonesia Arief Wicaksono, Greenpeace South East Asia Forests Political Advisor on 00 62 815 9704400Greenpeace International press desk on 00 31 20 718 2470Greenpeace International photo desk on 00 44 7801 615 889

Notes: PALM OIL – KEY POINTS• Deforestation is one of the main contributors to climate change and is responsible for around one fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than the entire transport sector.• Greenpeace field investigations in April 2008 exposed evidence of Unilever’s direct suppliers destroying orang-utan habitats and clearing peatlands for palm oil production (www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/how-unilever-palm-oil-supplier).• Indonesia’s peatland areas alone are responsible for 4% of Global greenhouse gas emissions – from an area less than 0.1% of the world’s surface.• Indonesia holds the Guinness world record for the fastest rate of deforestation in the world. 2% of the region’s forest cover is lost every year, and the palm oil sector is one of the key drivers of this destruction. • Unilever is the biggest consumer of palm oil in the world – it admits to using 4% of total global production. Unilever uses palm oil to make some of its leading brands such as Dove, Persil and Flora. • Unilever heads up the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil which has been put in charge of making the palm oil sector more sustainable. Despite the fact that the RSPO has existed since 2002, there is still no certified palm oil on the market.• An estimated 1600 orang-utans were killed on palm oil plantations during 2006• Greenpeace is calling for a moratorium – a complete halt – on all new deforestation and peatland conversion in South East Asia for oil palm expansion, and for major players like Unilever, Procter&Gamble and Nestle to stop buying from suppliers that are destroying rainforests and peatlands.