Palm Oil: No Thanks: We scrub away the palm oil lobby’s dirty greenwashing

(cross-posted)

Sep 2, 2013

Joint press release by Rainforest Rescue, Society for Threatened Peoples, Robin Wood, Urgewald and Watch Indonesia! 

Berlin

Activists from Rainforest Rescue, the Society for Threatened Peoples, Robin Wood, Urgewald  and Watch Indonesia! are scrubbing the pavements in front of  two conference venues used by palm oil lobbyists in Berlin.  The environmental and human rights organisations are protesting against today’s inaugural meeting of the “Forum for Sustainable Palm Oil” and against tomorrow’s first European Conference of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

The five organisations regard both events as pure greenwashing, which will undermine rather than progress campaigns against forest destruction and plunder for palm oil.  Instead of environmental fairy tales about supposedly sustainable palm oil, they demand that companies and policy makers stop palm oil imports.  Consumers in Europe do not want to use palm oil linked to rainforest destruction and human rights violations.

Palm oil is today found in many types of food, cosmetics and cleaning products as well as being blended with diesel.  The cheap vegetable oil comes at a high cost to the world’s last rainforests and their inhabitants.  Just this year, Indonesia’s forests were ablaze after fires had been set to clear land for new oil palm plantations.

“The palm oil industry tries to cover up its lies with ever new PR tricks and hypocritical events”, according to Renate Vollbrach from Rainforest Rescue.  “Vast oil palm plantations are unsustainable  for the environment and for people.  Even certified palm oil is not green, but produced through the plunder of nature and the violation of human rights”, adds Stefanie Hess of Robin Wood.

The “Forum for Sustainable Palm Oil” is organised by Unilever, Henkel and the supermarket chain REWE, some of the largest palm oil consumers.  Those companies are already members of the palm oil label RSPO.  The German Society for International Co-operation (GIZ) holds the presidency in the Forum, which is co-financed by the Federal Ministry for Agriculture.

“The federal German Government allows itself to be used as a tool by the palm oil industry.  In Indonesia and Malaysia, which produce 90% of all palm oil worldwide, its production is linked to human rights abuses.  The human rights guidelines endorsed by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation also apply to the GIZ.  They should know better.” says KnudVöcking, Urgewald.

“People in Indonesia are being evicted from their land to make way for industrial oil palm monocultures.  Instead of teaming up with the palm oiil industry, GIZ should help people to reclaim the land stolen from them”, demands Marianne Klute of Watch Indonesia!.  The Federal German Government and the EU are also promoting the use of palm oil in biodiesel and have recognised the RSPO label for this purpose.  The result: Already, 1.9 million tonnes of palm oil are used as biodiesel in the EU.

Further information

– Renate Volbracht, www.regenwald.org, renate.volbracht@soa-md.de, Mobil 01522 – 163 19 85
– Stefanie Hess, www.robinwood.de, stefanie.hess@robinwood.de, Mobil 01578 – 023 88 08
– Marianne Klute, www.watchindonesia.org, klute@watchindonesia.org, Mobil 0176 -245 26 549
– Knud Vöcking, www.urgewald.de, knud@urgewald.org, Mobil 0171 – 28 32 408

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