Sinar Mas: Climate killer

Feature Story - 2009-05-25
What have soap and shampoos got to do with climate change? Well Sinar Mas, produces so much carbon dioxide chopping up forests to grow palm oil in one tiny province of Indonesia that it is on a par with the emissions of an entire European country.

Deforestation is one of the key causes of climate change.

A new report by Greenpeace has worked out that by clearing and burning peatland rainforests for palm oil and paper plantations in Riau province, Indonesian conglomerate Sinar Mas has released 113 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, about two thirds of that produced by the whole of Belgium in 2005.

Palm oil is used to make soaps, shampoos, food additives and biofuel.

Peatlands, lying under tropical rainforests, are rich in carbon deposits.

When they are burned to make way for palm oil or paper plantations huge amounts of carbon dioxide are released.

Deforestation is a "ticking time bomb for climate change," says Bustar Maitar, Forest campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia who is in Beijing to tell the Chinese media about this crisis.

Why China?

Well not only is China one of the most vulnerable countries when it comes to the devastating effects of climate change it is one of Sinar Mas' biggest palm oil customers.

And it's not only in Riau that Sinar Mas is wreaking destruction.

Sinar Mas Group's cutting, burning and the expansion of palm oil plantations is also a serious threat to forests and indigenous peoples in Papua Province's Lereh region.

The Group's activities also threaten the fragile ecosystem of Danau Sentarum National Park in West Kalimantan, a site that is listed in the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance.

Kalimantan is the home of the endangered Orangutan.

Sinar Mas itself says it has plans to enlarge its palm oil plantations by 1.3 million hectares in Papua and Kalimantan.

That's what it says publicly, but behind the scenes Greenpeace has found out that Sinar Mas' plans are much much bigger than that.

In Papua alone, it has its eye on developing 2.8 million hectares of palm oil plantations.

Greenpeace wants Sinar Mas to stop forest destruction immediately.

It is perfectly possible to increase the productivity of existing palm oil plantations.

There is no need to further clear Indonesia's precious forests.

Such destruction is not only killing the rainforest, destroying the home of endangered animals like the orangutan but also killing the climate and killing all our futures.

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