Release Date: 13-Nov-2007
Issues at the heart of our ‘Under the Influence’ report were in the news again this week, with Greenpeace UK releasing a damning report into expansion of palm oil production in Indonesia.
Palm oil is cheap to produce, easy to transport and, as such, is widely used. It’s a favourite of commercial and processed food manufacturers, a key ingredient in treats such as Tim Tams and Pringles, and in staples like margarine and cream cheese. More recently, palm oil has been earmarked as a potential biofuel, leading to soaring demand as international consumers look for alternative, sustainable energy sources to replace depleting fossil fuel stocks. Alternative: certainly; sustainable: no. Especially not with the current ‘take-no-prisoners’ approach to production in Asia Pacific!
Jubilee Australia’s report showed how export governed structural adjustment programs from international lending institutions pushed Indonesia and Papua New Guinea into widespread expansion of oil palm plantations and refineries. Greenpeace has linked this back to importer and consumer appetites in wealthy countries. Giant companies are looking to minimise production costs so they can pass savings onto customers and shareholders, while consumers are encouraged to buy climate peace of mind through switching to biofuel without changing energy consumption habits. This has pushed the oil palm boom, which has impinged on valuable tropical forest and peat land, releasing tons upon tons of carbon emissions and making a dangerous – and growing – impact on climate change.
Global leaders are preparing to meet in Bali in December for the most important international summit on climate change since Kyoto. These reports are a timely reminder that climate must be fully recognised as a social justice issue which demands real, partnered action before it’s too late.
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