Greenpeace activists prevent Sinar Mas palm oil tanker from loading in Indonesia

Greenpeace challenges RSPO to stop green-washing member companies

Press release - 14 November, 2008
Greenpeace today prevented the loading of crude palm oil on the Isola Corallo, a Rotterdam-bound tanker in Dumai, Indonesia's main palm oil export port. Greenpeace is calling upon the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), which meets in Bali next week, to take urgent action against member companies who destroy forests and peatlands.

A Greenpeace activist was locked onto the anchor chain of the Isola Corallo for over 36 hours to stop it from moving. The Greenpeace ship, Esperanza, then occupied the palm oil loading facility this morning 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.

The Sinar Mas group is Indonesia's largest palm oil company, accounting for around 10% of production. Sinar Mas is a key member of the RSPO(1), which this week celebrated the first shipment to Europe of "sustainable palm oil". However, Greenpeace research shows that the "Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil" 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 is also involved with deforestation all over Indonesia, including in Kalimantan and Papua, and has aggressive expansion plans for the future.

"Palm oil buyers must cancel contracts with suppliers who continue deforestation and peat clearance.  A moratorium on deforestation is a prerequisite to any claims of 'sustainable' palm oil," said Bustar Maitar, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Forest Campaigner. "Next week the palm oil industry will come together in Bali for the sixth annual global RSPO meeting. We expect the RSPO to initiate urgent action against companies like Sinar Mas and United Plantations who continue to destroy forests and peatlands."

RSPO certification places rules on plantations that want to become certified, but these do not fully prohibit forest clearance, even on peatlands, which is a key element in combating climate change. In particular, the clearance, drainage, and burning of peatland forests makes Indonesia the third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world(2). In fact, RSPO members are not obliged to change anything in their practices, until they enter the certification process.

"With the current speed of cutting and burning forests, the Indonesian lowland rainforests will have largely disappeared within the next 15 years(3), 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" added Maitar.

Greenpeace is calling on the Indonesian government to implement an immediate moratorium on all forest conversion, including expansion of oil palm plantations, industrial logging, and other drivers of deforestation.

Greenpeace is an independent, global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment, and to promote peace.

Other contacts: Zulfahmi, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Forest Campaigner, (in Pekanbaru)
+62 (0) 812 682 12 14

Bustar Maitar, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Forest Campaigner, (onboard the Esperanza)
+62 (0) 813 44 666 135

Nabiha Shahab, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Media Campaigner, (onboard the Esperanza)
+62 (0) 81314213432

Martin Baker, Communications Coordinator (Asia), Greenpeace International
+62 (0) 8131 5829513 (in Jakarta)

For photo and video please contact Findi Kenandarti
+62 (0) 8161681840

Notes: (1) The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is an association created by organisations related in various chains of the palm oil supply chain. Their objective is to "promote the growth and use of sustainable palm oil through co-operation within the supply chain and open dialogue with its stakeholders."

(2) See, .e.g.: Hooijer, A, M Silvius, H Wösten, H and S Page (2006) PEAT-CO2, Assessment of CO2 emissions from drained peatlands in SE Asia Delft Hydraulics report Q3943 7 December 2006

(3) Nellemann, C, L Miles, BP Kaltenborn, M Virtue, and H Ahlenius (Eds) (2007) The last stand of the orangutan - State of emergency: Illegal logging, fire and palm oil in Indonesia's national parks, United Nations Environment Programme