Jakarta. Environmental activist group Greenpeace said its aim is not to end palm oil production, but rather to end deforestation in the world's largest producer of the vegetable oil.
The group responded to an Oct. 11 Jakarta Globe article, which mentions last month's occupation by environmental activists of Wilmar International's refinery in Bitung, North Sulawesi.
Herewith, under its right of reply, is Greenpeace's full response, signed by Kiki Taufik, global head of the organizations' Indonesian forest campaign.
Is Greenpeace waging a negative campaign against the palm oil sector?"We are campaigning to end deforestation – not to end palm oil. Since the beginning, Greenpeace's position has never been anti-palm oil. We believe palm oil is hugely important for farmers and the Indonesian economy and it must be maintained. On the other hand, the government has just issued Presidential Instruction No. 8/2018 [imposing a moratorium on new plantations], which indicates that it knows there are problems in the palm oil sector. The main problem is the number of palm oil traders still linked to forest destruction. One of them is Wilmar, the world's largest palm oil trader.
In 2013, Wilmar announced its NDPE policy [no deforestation, no peat, no exploitation]. However, Greenpeace's analysis, summarized in the 'Final Countdown' report, found that Wilmar is still accepting palm oil from groups of companies that destroy forests and seize land from local communities. This is clearly a violation of the NDPE commitment."
In 2010, members of the Consumer Goods Forum promised to cut deforestation from the supply chain of all commodities by 2020. Not just palm oil; soybean, pulp, wood and meat were all included. Time is running out for them to fulfill that promise – and with less than 500 days left, we can't let the palm oil industry fail.
The government and the national legislature must highlight and monitor these palm oil traders, because due to their behavior, Indonesian palm oil commodities are at risk of being banned by countries in the European Union. This disadvantages Indonesia, because palm oil has become a source of livelihood for 22 million Indonesians. If oil palm plantations can be cultivated while promoting conservation, without destroying forests or peatlands, and is free of social conflict, then it will be the solution to the problem of Indonesians' economic welfare. Indonesia will be the world leader in the palm oil industry."
Is Greenpeace receiving instructions from developed countries to campaign against palm oil because other vegetable oil producers are unable to compete?"We are campaigning to end deforestation – not to end palm oil. Prohibiting the export of palm oil is not the same as ending deforestation. In fact, oil palms are very efficient crops in terms of land use [one hectare of oil palms produces more vegetable oil than any other crop, including soybean and sunflower]. If palm oil is banned, companies or governments might turn to other crops, which is also risky and could create problems elsewhere. Other crops might replace palm oil's role in deforestation, or even worsen it, in Indonesia or elsewhere.
This is one of the reasons Greenpeace does not advocate for companies or governments to stop or ban palm oil production – on the contrary, we campaign to ensure that companies do not produce or trade in palm oil that sacrifices forests and peatlands. We encourage the industry to produce palm oil sustainably. Therefore, it is so important for us not to waste palm oil, or other vegetable oils from agricultural crops for use as biofuels."
Many large consumer companies globally have pledged to end their role in deforestation by 2020. Time is running out for them to deliver on that promise. We need to ask for their accountability, while continuing to encourage the government to immediately step up its role in protecting forests and combating climate change."