Sep 24, 2009
Borneo's forests, wildlife and people are at an elevated risk due to Europe's increasing use of biofuels.
New research released by Friends of the Earth shows for the first time the extent of damage being caused by the European Union’s increasing use of biofuels.
The research focuses on the massive expansion of palm oil in the Indonesian district of Ketapang and reports on the deforestation, illegal operations and social conflicts caused by the growing demand for palm oil in Europe.
The report follows last week’s announcement by the World Bank to cease funding palm oil projects.
The research conducted in Ketapang, a large district in West Kalimantan, Indonesia, investigates how demand for palm oil for energy is leading to an expansion of palm oil crops, and whether so-called sustainability schemes prevent illegal operations, deforestation, climate emissions and social conflicts. It concludes that:
- In the last three years, the government of Ketapang handed out licenses to grow palm plantations on 40% of the district’s land surface, bypassing laws intended to protect forests, the environment and people.
- 39 of the 54 licenses overlap with 400,000 hectares of protected forests, including parts of a national park with orang-utan habitat. Permits to grow palm plantations now cover 1.4 million hectares.
- 43% of the land being acquired is by companies that are members of the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), and the same violations are being committed by members as by non-members.
- The rights of local communities are often ignored. 20 land conflicts had been reported by the end of 2008, and this figure is set to rise as the expansion of plantations increases.
Geert Ritsema, head of globalization and environment at Friends of the Earth Netherlands, said: "The rising demand for palm oil is leading directly to illegal deforestation and social conflicts in Indonesia. If this continues the forests in Borneo will be wiped out, together with the wildlife and people they support, whilst contributing massively to climate change."
Ritsema continued: "Biofuels are a false solution to climate change. Instead of relying on feedstock imports that create enormous environmental and social problems in other countries, the European Union must act responsibly and address climate change at home with less energy-demanding vehicles and improvements in public transport."
Learn about the environmental impacts of the meat and dairy industry in a film highlighting Friends of the Earth's Food Chain Campaign.
Sep 10, 2009
After a complain from Friends of the Earth International the UK advertising watchdog has ruled that claiming palm oil is "sustainably produced" is false advertising.
The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruling followed a Friends of the Earth Europe/International complaint against an advert by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council.
MPOC's statement that palm oil is the 'only product able to sustainably and efficiently meet a larger portion of the world's increasing demand for oil crop-based consumer good, foodstuffs and biofuels' was found misleading.
Also the statement that palm oil contributes to alleviation of poverty was misleading, as 'there was not a consensus of the economic impact of palm oil on local communities'.
The ASA further stated that the certification scheme of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil was 'still the subject of debate'. Therefore, making a claim that palm oil could be wholly sustainable, which cannot be substantiated, was deemed to be misleading.
Our corporate campaigner Paul de Clerck said:
'We are pleased that the ASA has ruled that palm oil cannot be qualified as sustainable. The Malaysian palm oil industry continues to lie about the negative environmental and social impacts of palm oil. The vast scale of palm oil production means that it cannot be sustainable - it destroys forests, increases carbon emissions, and forces local communities in developing countries off their land'.