Greenpeace activists removed but continue calls to ban palm kernel imports

Press release - September 16, 2009
Greenpeace activists removed by police from blockading a shipment of palm kernel animal feed at Tauranga port say their actions have highlighted Fonterra’s climate crime and are continuing their calls to John Key to force the multinational to stop future imports.

Greenpeace activists block a shipment of palm kernel animal feed from Indonesia, entering Tauranga Port and destined for Fonterra dairy farms. They are calling on John Key to halt imports of the product due to its impact on climate change and address intensive dairy farming in New Zealand. XX activists have boarded the East Ambition, several kilometers from Tauranga port, and have locked themselves to the vessel and its cargo cranes to prevent the ship unloading when it berths.

The East Ambition, from Indonesia, was boarded at 0900 today by 14 activists who chained themselves to the ship and its cargo cranes. Police used a massive crane and heavy cutting equipment to remove the activists 14 hours after they boarded the 170 metre ship carrying palm kernel expeller (PKE) destined for Fonterra dairy farms.

One of the activists, Jo McVeagh, said the production and use of palm kernel animal feed was having a major impact on climate change.

"This ship's cargo has contributed up to 364,000 tonnes of carbon emissions. That's the same as the emissions from 127,000 cars over a year (1). John Key hasn't taken steps to stop this climate crime which is why we stopped the shipment today."

Greenpeace New Zealand climate campaigner Simon Boxer said the purpose of the action was to highlight how Fonterra's activities were impacting the climate, rainforests indigenous peoples overseas and endangered species.

"John Key's advisors need to do their homework; palm kernel animal feed directly contributes to rainforest destruction in Indonesia and Malaysia," said Boxer.

"Fonterra is New Zealand's biggest greenhouse gas emitter and is increasing the country's emissions and contributing to the global problem due to its intensification of dairy farming in this country. Fonterra must change its intensive farming practices which forces farmers to provide more and more milk at the expense of the climate and the environment."

PKE is used as a supplementary feed for New Zealand's increasing dairy herd. Last year New Zealand imported 1.1 million tonnes of the product, valued at around $300 million, which was one quarter of the world's production.

Fonterra's half-owned subsidiary, RD1, has a joint venture with Wilmar International (2), which is the world's largest trader of palm oil's and kernel. It has a documented reputation for rainforest destruction, illegal burning and creating social conflicts over community lands. (3)

Last week the World Bank froze new funding to Wilmar International and all other palm companies pending a review into environmental and social sustainability practices of the sector.

"Fonterra can no longer claim ignorance of what Wilmar and the palm industry is doing to supply palm based animal feed to New Zealand and has no choice but to stop all imports immediately," concluded Boxer.

Greenpeace is also calling on the Indonesian Government to implement an immediate moratorium on forest and peatland destruction for the sake of climate stability, biodiversity and to protect the livelihoods of forest dependent peoples. 

Other contacts: Simon Boxer, Greenpeace New Zealand climate campaigner, 021 905 579 Suzette Jackson, Greenpeace New Zealand communications manager, 021 614899

VVPR info: Phil Crawford, Greenpeace New Zealand communications and media, 021 22 99 594

Notes: (1) Based on average car driving 14,000 km per year (http://labelling.fuelsaver.govt.nz) and the average car emitting 203.8g CO2/km in 2009 (Press release by The Minister for Transport, 28 August, 2009) giving an average annual emissions of 2.853 tonnes of CO2/year. (2) RD1 Press release, June 2008. (3) A 2007 report by Friends of the Earth Netherlands, Kontak Rakyat Borneo and Lembaga Gemawan exposed Wilmar’s involvement in rainforest destruction, in ignoring national laws and the rights of communities and in forest fires in Sambas District, Kalimantan.

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