Greenpeace challenges RSPO to stop green-washing member companies

prevents Sinar Mas palm oil tanker from loading at Dumai

Feature story - November 14, 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)(1), which meets in Bali next week, to take urgent action against member companies who destroy forests and peatlands.

Tugs are deployed by the Port authorities of Dumai to keep the Greenpeace ship MY Esperanza from blocking the tanker ‘Isola Corallo’ from loading it’s consignment of 29,000 metric tonnes of crude palm oil for the Sinar Mas company destination Rotterdam. Greenpeace is campaigning to save Indonesia’s precious rainforests and peatlands for the stability of the global climate, the sake of biodiversity, and the welfare of forest-dependent people. The Greenpeace ship Esperanza is in Dumai Port to protest the ongoing destruction of forests and peat lands in Indonesia by large corporations for palm oil plantations, pulp, paper plantations and other commodities.

A Greenpeace activist was locked onto the anchor chain of the Isola Corallo for over 36 hours to stop it from moving. Greenpeace ship, Esperanza, then occupied the palm oil loading facility this morning to prevent Isola Corrallo from loading Sinar Mas palm oil. The Esperanza was finally forced off the berth by Port authority tugs after a 7-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, 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" (RSPO) 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.

(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

Act Now!

Take Action To Protect Our Forest and Save Our Climate!

Support us!

Yes! I want to help save the environment by joining Greenpeace today. I want to take part in the movement to defend our planet.