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Jakarta — Commenting on today’s launch of the ‘RSPO Next’ scheme, Greenpeace Indonesia forest campaigner Ratri Kusumohartono said ‘Next’s’ optional undertakings fell far short of satisfying mounting demands for a deforestation-free palm oil industry. 
“RSPO’s ‘Next’ scheme is a failed upgrade. RSPO Next won’t halt deforestation nor save peatlands from drainage, yet these are the two biggest environmental problems the palm oil industry faces,” Ratri said in Jakarta.“The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil is struggling to respond to criticism that it fails to provide an answer to continuing forest destruction for palm oil. It seems the RSPO has recognised the urgent need for the sort of commitments made by the Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG). Sadly, instead of adopting the POIG charter wholesale, it has created a weak new standard and made it purely optional for RSPO membership.” 
The critical issue that the industry-dominated RSPO needs to address is how it defines ‘No Deforestation’. Instead of going with a strong, proven methodology such as the High Carbon Stock Approach  it has compromised with a ‘net carbon’ approach. In practice this means that companies can continue to clear forests as long as they compensate for carbon losses with carbon stored in their palm plantations or elsewhere in the concession. This is not what No Deforestation means to Greenpeace, or to other NGOs and company members of the HCS Approach Steering Group, nor to the traders and consumer companies that have committed to stop buying palm oil linked to deforestation.
Years after progressive companies pledged to do so, RSPO now has optional guidelines prohibiting new development on peatlands. However, as Indonesia’s 2015 fire crisis revealed, stopping new peat clearance is not enough to prevent fires from taking hold across the millions of hectares of peatlands already drained for plantations. The only solution is to re-wet and restore peatland landscapes impacted by company operations — but the RSPO Next scheme does not require this.
“The RSPO, which should be setting the bar high on environmental standards, is playing catch-up with Indonesian regulations, which not only ban new peat clearance but demand restoration of burnt areas and efforts to re-wet damaged peatlands. However, we are encouraged by the RSPO Next requirement that member companies enforce its guidelines at an organization-wide level, as this encourages greater responsibility across the supply chain,” Ratri said.
Notes to the Editor:
 Established in 2013, the Palm Oil Innovation Group (http://poig.org/) of progressive palm companies – supported by Greenpeace together with other NGOs – has developed a benchmark for socially and environmentally responsible palm oil production, including higher standards for many areas including human rights and labor. Critically, independent third-party verification of standard is a requirement.
 The HCS Approach is a methodology that distinguishes forest areas for protection from degraded lands with low carbon and biodiversity values that may be developed. It puts No Deforestation into practice. See http://highcarbonstock.org/
Ratri Kusumohartono, Greenpeace Indonesia Forest Campaigner
Igor O’Neill, International Media for Greenpeace Indonesia Forest Campaign
M: +62 811 1923 721