Bangkok, Thailand – Consumer goods companies Unilever, Mondelez, Nestle, and Procter & Gamble (P&G), and top palm oil traders including Wilmar are buying palm oil from producers linked to thousands of fire hotspots in Indonesia this year, according to new analysis by Greenpeace International. The companies are even buying from individual palm oil concessions under public investigation for illegal fires.

Unilever, Mondelez, Nestle, and P&G are each linked to up to 10,000 fire hotspots, as they buy from palm oil producer groups with the highest numbers of fire hotpots in 2019. The palm oil traders Wilmar, Cargill, Musim Mas, and Golden-Agri Resources (GAR) have extensive links to this year’s fires in Indonesia and together supply more than three-quarters of global palm oil.[1] The new analysis shows extensive overlap among these companies and the palm oil producer groups with the largest burned areas in 2015-2018.

“Companies have created a facade of sustainability. But the reality is that they source from the very worst offenders across the board. The companies responsible for the fires and those who financially benefit from them should be held accountable for these environmental atrocities and the devastating health impacts caused by the fires,” said Annisa Rahmawati, Senior Forest Campaigner at Greenpeace Indonesia.

According to reports, more than 900,000 people in Indonesia have suffered acute respiratory infections due to the smoke haze from this year’s fires,[2] and nearly 10 million children are at risk of lifelong physical and cognitive damages due to air pollution.[3] Between 1 January to 22 October 2019, the fires released an estimated 465 megatonnes of CO2, which is close to the UK’s total annual greenhouse gas emissions.[4] 

The new findings come as companies gather for the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) meetings in Thailand. This body certifies palm oil as sustainable and “no burning” is a key criteria. Yet more than two-thirds of the producer groups linked to recurrent fires and all of the traders and consumer companies analysed by Greenpeace are RSPO members, some even board members.[5] 

Global companies have made commitments to stop deforestation by 2020, but instead, forest loss has accelerated, and commodity-driven deforestation is the highest driver.[6] Greenpeace recently stepped back from a process with Unilever, Mondelez and Wilmar to create a monitoring platform for Indonesian palm oil due to their repeated failures to take the necessary action to achieve zero deforestation. 

Governments around the world have yet to take serious actions against companies or goods linked to the fires.[7] Greenpeace is calling for the companies responsible for and profiting from the fires to be held accountable.[8] 


Full report can be accessed here

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[1] Traders’ market share is according to the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), based on 2015 data.

[2] According to Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), as cited in Tempo.

[3] According to UNICEF, as cited in France24.

[4] Emissions from Indonesia’s forest fires are based on the Global Fire Emissions Database (GFED). UK annual emissions based on the most recent 2014 data from Climate Watch. Many fires are also within the last remaining habitat of critically endangered orangutans and other vulnerable species.

[5] The producer groups linked to recurrent fires are defined as those linked to more than 250 fire hotspots in 2019 and/or those linked to the largest burned areas in 2015-2018. Under RSPO rules, a group should be a member at a level which covers all of its palm oil operations, therefore a group’s operations are here considered RSPO-linked where any part of the group is currently an RSPO member. Greenpeace analysis found that RSPO members are linked to the majority of fires in Indonesia today. The meeting does not have fires on its agenda, according to the RSPO event website

[6] According to the New York Declaration on Forests (NYDF) Progress Assessment. More details about companies’ failed deforestation commitments can also be found in Greenpeace USA’s recent briefing.

[7] For example, the Indonesian government has not seriously penalised palm oil companies responsible for the largest burned areas in recent years, according to Greenpeace Indonesia analysis. Furthermore, Singaporean and Malaysian governments have also not sanctioned companies, despite the fact that half of the palm oil producers responsible for Indonesia’s 2019 fire hotspots are based in these countries. 

[8] For example, Greenpeace is calling on the European Union to pass new laws to ensure that all products, including palm oil, sold on the European market are free from deforestation and related human rights abuses.


Hikmat Soeriatanuwijaya, Media Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Jakarta, +62 819 888 829, [email protected]

Reykia Fick, Global Communications Lead – Forests, Greenpeace Canada, Ottawa +1-819-918-0470, [email protected] 

Greenpeace International Press Desk, +31 (0)20 718 2470 (available 24 hours), [email protected]

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