The Problem with Palm Oil
Palm oil, an ingredient found in many everyday food and cosmetic products, is contributing to the rapid destruction of rainforests. Orangutan habitat in Sumatra and Borneo is being cleared at an alarming rate for conversion to oil palm plantations. On Sumatra there is now more than 4 times as much land cultivated with oil palms as there is orangutan habitat remaining.
Over the past few decades, oil palm plantations have rapidly spread across Southeast Asia and the palm oil industry has become a crucial source of income and employment for countries such as Indonesia. However, this development has come at the expense of Indonesia's tropical rainforests and peatlands, home to countless endangered species and providing crucial ecological services to millions of people.
There is a huge amount of degraded land available for planting oil palms in Sumatra and Borneo, but palm oil companies can make a quick profit when they cut down rainforests and sell the timber, so the relentless deforestation continues. We do not support a boycott of products containing palm oil, or companies using palm oil in their products. However, the international community must demand that oil palm plantations are not developed in forested areas, and that our local retailers and manufacturers only source the palm oil in their products from non-destructive plantations.
Click here for some more information about palm oil, orangutans and what we want to see change.
What can you do?
Palm oil does not have to be 'bad' - it is an extremely efficient crop when grown responsibly, using up to five times less land than alternative crops. The key is traceability in the supply chain. Companies must take responsibility for what happens in their name. Ask your supermarket or food company if they are working towards truly traceable, No Deforestation palm oil that respects the environment, wildlife and biodiversity, and the many people working in palm oil supply chains. Demand that supermarkets and manufacturers who use palm oil in their products clean up their act.
Biofuels: The Answer to Climate Change?
The growth in palm oil, sugar cane and soya production has led to the destruction of some of the world's most biodiverse ecosystems, home to many endangered species and vulnerable communities. The demand for biofuels is a significant driver behind the unsustainable growth of these industries.
Biofuels generated from food crops such as palm oil could actually be causing more damage to the climate than the traditional fossil fuels. More carbon emissions result from deforestation and peat fires than are produced by the entire global transport sector. Slowing the rate of forest destruction is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to fight climate change.
When a hectare of primary rainforest is cleared and replaced with oil palms, this releases around 65 times as much carbon into the atmosphere as can be saved annually by using the palm oil as a biofuel.
Palm oil production is linked to the destruction of Southeast Asia's remaining rainforests, human rights abuses, and to peat and forest fires. The palm oil industry in Indonesia and Malaysia intends to capitalise on the growing demand for biofuels by expanding oil palm plantations at the expense of remaining lowland forests on Sumatra and Borneo, completely undermining the environmental benefits of using biofuels.