Indonesian Govt Urged to Keep Pace with Palm Oil Commitments

Press release - September 24, 2014
During New York Climate Summit, Incoming President Urged to Extend Moratorium, Protect Peatlands

Four leading companies in the palm oil industry have today launched a pledge to protect forests and carbon-rich peatlands during the New York Climate Summit. As these companies already have individual No Deforestation policies, the breakthrough of this initiative is the involvement of KADIN, the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce.

Indonesian industry bodies have long fought against protecting forests from ever-expanding plantations. Now, following the growing demand for deforestation-free palm oil, KADIN has seen the benefit of lobbying for a level playing field to reward leading companies. Greenpeace welcomes this initiative and is looking forward together with KADIN to push an ambitious policy agenda to protect Indonesia’s remaining forests and peatlands.

“With this advance, industry leaves President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono lagging behind in terms of policies to protect Indonesian forests,” said Greenpeace Indonesia’s Bustar Maitar. “The onus is now on President SBY during his last weeks in office to take a courageous step to secure his environmental legacy. He can do that by revising the flawed peatlands regulation. The regulation does not deal with existing concessions, and will not provide protection on the scale necessary to halt the greenhouse gas emissions juggernaut that is set in motion when peatlands are drained for plantations.”

Events in New York this week are also turning attention to a burning issue which presents a challenge for incoming president-elect Joko “Jokowi” Widodo. In his first 6 months in office Jokowi faces a decision on the future of a moratorium, put in place by his predecessor, on the allocation of new permits in primary forests and peatlands.

“Greenpeace urges Jokowi to heed the clear signal from leading plantation companies to not only extend but strengthen the moratorium to cover all High Carbon Stock [1] areas identified for protection in existing concessions,” said Bustar. “A legal review of these concessions and the publication of the national One Map land use plan will also be necessary to enable relocation of concessions to low carbon land. The One Map will also provide the guidance needed to ensure good forest governance.”

Three of the new pledge’s signatory companies, Wilmar, GAR and Cargill, are taking steps to ensure that their operations and supply chains no longer contribute to deforestation, peatlands destruction and social conflict. These companies use the High Carbon Stock Approach for the implementation of their commitments, and participate in the HCS Steering Group that was launched last month in Singapore.

The fourth signatory of the pledge however, is part of the RGE Group of companies which are continuing to destroy Indonesian forests for new plantations. While RGE Group’s oil palm plantation company Asian Agri is joining the Pledge and has announced new sustainability policies, the Sukanto Tanoto-owned RGE Group also owns notorious pulp-and paper companies APRIL and Toba Pulp Lestari. On Padang Island, Sumatra, bulldozers are right this moment continuing to clear forests in deep peatlands.

“Greenpeace welcomes the commitment by another big Indonesian palm oil company to stop clearing forests and peat lands, but we regret that the Sukanto Tanoto’s RGE Group has failed to seize this opportunity to address all of the group’s impacts on the rainforests of Indonesia and to commit to support wider forest conservation initiatives,” said Bustar. “If Mr Tanoto was serious about forest protection he would be stopping the bulldozers immediately in Indonesia.”

Greenpeace calls on RGE to immediately implement No Deforestation commitments that apply to all pulp and palm oil businesses that are owned or controlled by the Tanoto family, and to support conservation initiatives on a scale that matches the group’s previous responsibility for deforestation.

Note to editor:

[1] See http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/Press-Centre/Press-Releases/Steering-Group-Established-to-Oversee-the-High-Carbon-Stock-HCS-Approach-for-Implementing--No-Deforestation-Commitments/

Media Contacts:

Bustar Maitar, Global Head of Indonesia Forest Campaign. +6281344666135, 

Igor O’Neill, International Comms, Greenpeace Indonesia Forest Campaign, +628111-923-721,