Greenpeace Report Details How U.S. Companies’ Use of Palm Oil Fuels Deforestation, Global Warming

July 6, 2010

A month before world leaders gather in Bali to decide next steps to combat global warming, Greenpeace today released a report detailing the role played by growing demand for palm oil in Indonesian peat forest destruction and global warming. Many companies, including ADM, Unilever, Cargill, Procter & Gamble, Dove soap, Nestlé, Kraft and Burger King, are driving the demand for palm oil used in food and cosmetics products such as Pringles, KitKat candy, Oreo cookies, and Philadelphia Cream Cheese. The Indonesian peatlands, unique tropical forests whose dense soil can be burned to produce energy and are being destroyed to make way for palm oil plantations, are some of the world’s great carbon sinks and their destruction already accounts for four percent of annual global emissions.

The Greenpeace report, “Cooking the Climate,” shows how
companies are driving peatland destruction in the Indonesian
province of Riau on the island of Sumatra, home to 25 percent of
the country’s palm oil plantations. There are plans to expand the
area under concession by more than 11,000 square miles, which would
deforest and cover half the province with plantations. This would
have devastating consequences for Riau’s peatlands, which have
already been seriously degraded by industrial development and store
a massive 14.6 billion tons of carbon, roughly one year’s global
greenhouse gas emissions.

Research conducted by Greenpeace from its Forest Defenders Camp
in Riau documents how a major Indonesian palm oil producer is
engaging in the large-scale, illegal destruction of peatland in
flagrant violation of an Indonesian presidential order and national
forestry regulations.  Palm oil from peatland destruction is fed
into the supply chain for global brands such as Pringles and
KitKat. Major multinational companies are all named in the report
for turning a blind eye to peatland destruction for cheap vegetable
oil.

“This investigation shows that a handful of international
corporations are ultimately responsible for slashing and burning
Indonesia’s peatland forests for food, fuel and laundry detergent,”
said Emmy Hafild, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia. 
“Some of the best known brands in the world are literally cooking
the climate.”

The report also exposes the reality behind palm oil’s use as a
“biofuel.” In fact, replacing forests and peatlands with palm oil
plantations releases more carbon dioxide than is saved by burning
biofuels in place of diesel.  Forest destruction is responsible for
about one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions.

“At next month’s UN climate conference in Bali, political
leaders must wake up to the fact that we need to make deep cuts in
greenhouse gas emissions- and make them fast,” said Rolf Skar,
Greenpeace forests campaigner. “Protecting peatlands and other
forest areas from destruction is one of the most simple,
cost-effective insurance options against global warming.”

VVPR info: steve.smith@wdc.greenpeace.org

Notes: The full report can be found at: http://www.greenpeace.org/cookingtheclimate

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