Public protest brings palm kernel and coal climate crimes to Fonterra's door

Press release - November 24, 2009
A human chain of protesters piled sacks labelled ‘Fonterra palm kernel’ and ‘Fonterra coal’ outside Fonterra’s corporate headquarters today in protest of greenhouse gas emissions caused by the dairy giant’s intensive farming practices.

A human chain of protesters piled sacks labelled ‘Fonterra palm kernel’ and ‘Fonterra coal’ outside Fonterra’s corporate headquarters today in protest of greenhouse gas emissions caused by the dairy giant’s intensive farming practices.

This comes the day after Fonterra admits that its palm kernel is not sustainable, only that they are "pushing" for sustainability (1).

"Fonterra knows that their palm kernel comes at the expense of rainforests, orangutans, indigenous peoples and the climate, yet they do it anyway. Now they are trying to down play the issue rather than dealing with it," said Greenpeace New Zealand climate campaigner Simon Boxer.

"Two weeks out from the Copenhagen international climate talks, Fonterra's influence is preventing John Key and the New Zealand Government from reducing emissions."

"We are laying Fonterra's climate crimes at its door. John Key must stand up to Fonterra and bring it under control, rather than allowing them to dictate this country's response to climate change."

"Fonterra is New Zealand's largest greenhouse gas emitter. In addition to increasing on-farm emissions Fonterra's levels of climate pollution are skyrocketing due to the expansion of burning coal for milk processing and its increase of palm kernel imports, produced on land cleared of rainforests".

Fonterra is responsible for around 16 million tonnes of emissions each year (over 20 per cent of New Zealand's total emissions) (2), but this increases to a massive 36 million tonnes when indirect emissions are included such as from palm kernel production (3). This is more than all of New Zealand's transport emissions including aviation plus all electricity generation emissions including Huntly coal power station.

Seventy-six-year Harold Phillips, attending the protest because he doesn't like the path Fonterra has taken said, "I feel compelled to protest. Fonterra's dairy farming nowadays needs a lot of fertiliser, supplementary feed like palm kernel grown on the ashes of far away rainforests. It's farming but not how it used to be. It's a disgrace."

"Fonterra has lobbied the Government heavily so that Kiwi taxpayers have to pick up most of the bill for Fonterra's climate pollution while still increasing their greenhouse gas emissions each year. It's an outrageous situation", said Boxer. "At this point in time we must drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and those who create the pollution should pay."

Today's protest follows Greenpeace action last week that shut down the New Vale coal mine in Southland which supplies Fonterra's Edendale milk processing factory. In August, Greenpeace exposed the links between Fonterra's supplementary palm kernel feed from Indonesia and the devastation of rainforests, including orangutan and Sumatran tiger habitats, contributing to massive climate change. Greenpeace stopped a shipment of palm kernel at Tauranga in September and protested against another shipment into Taranaki in October.

Other contacts: Greenpeace New Zealand Climate Campaigner Simon Boxer 021 905 579 Communications Officer Dean Baigent-Mercer 021 1044 101

Notes: 1 “Fonterra’s procurement policy includes pushing for certification and more sustainable supplies of products and services”, Fonterra media advisory: Greenpeace Protest – Fonterra Centre, 23 November 2009. 2"> plus 1.87 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from Fonterra’s processing and manufacturing processes calculated from Fonterra’s ETS submission; Dairy on farm emissions"> 3 According to data from carbon footprint research of the palm industry rainforest destruction of peat lands for palm plantations gives rise to 96,565 kg of greenhouse gas emissions per hectare per year of production (GHG emissions from palm oil production Literature review and proposals for amendments of RSPO Principles & Criteria, July 2009). According to carbon footprint methodology by a Malaysian Government research agency for industrial development the production of one kg of PKE gives rise to a footprint of up to 18.2 kg of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions (The LCA Approach to Illustrate Palm Oil’s Sustainability Advantage S.S.Chen SIRIM Environmental & Bioprocess Technology Centre, Malaysia. SIRIM Berhad is a wholly-owned company of the Malaysian Government under the Minister of Finance Incorporated). Imports of palm kernel to New Zealand in 2008 were 1.1 million tonnes (Statistics New Zealand).