We’re not against palm oil but against de­for­esta­tion: Green­peace

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Asean Focus -

EN­VI­RON­MEN­TAL watch­dog Green­peace In­done­sia has re­sponded to a state­ment from the In­done­sian Em­ploy­ers As­so­ci­a­tion (Apindo) and the In­done­sian Oil Palm Farm­ers As­so­ci­a­tion (Ap­kasindo) that called on the gov­ern­ment to take firm ac­tion against Green­peace, which they said was harm­ing In­done­sia’s econ­omy.

“To be clear, Green­peace is not an­tipalm oil, it is anti-de­for­esta­tion,” Kiki Tau­fik, head of Green­peace In­done­sia Global For­est Cam­paign, said in a state­ment to The Jakarta Post.

Apindo and Ap­kasindo made their state­ment in re­sponse to Green­peace’s rally on a Wil­mar In­ter­na­tional-owned tanker trans­port­ing crude palm oil from a re­fin­ery in Du­mai, Riau, to Europe. The ship was in the Bay of Cádiz in Spain when the ac­tivists boarded and un­furled ban­ners that read “Save Our Rain­for­est” and “Drop Dirty Palm Oil”.

The in­dus­try group said Green­peace’s cam­paign had in­sulted the dig­nity of In­done­sia with ac­cu­sa­tions of dirty palm oil.

Wil­mar ear­lier urged Green­peace to take “col­lab­o­ra­tive ac­tion” with the com­pany if it wanted to im­prove the palm oil in­dus­try. It also said in a state­ment that Green­peace did not take into ac­count that palm oil was “the most ef­fi­cient” veg­etable oil.

Green­peace said it was aware that palm oil was an im­por­tant plan­ta­tion prod­uct for In­done­sia and that the crop was a more “ef­fi­cient crop gen­er­ally in terms of land use” than soy­bean or sun­flower.

“If palm oil is banned, com­pa­nies or gov­ern­ments might turn to other crops, which might re­place palm oil’s role in de­for­esta­tion [or even worsen it] in In­done­sia and else­where. We sup­port palm oil from pro­duc­ers or palm oil com­pa­nies that aren’t de­stroy­ing forests or ex­ploit­ing peo­ple, and there’s plenty of palm oil that fits that bill,” it went on.

Green­peace noted that the Palm Oil In­no­va­tion Group (POIG) was an ex­am­ple of a multi-stake­holder ini­tia­tive from the most pro­gres­sive palm oil pro­duc­ers and NGOS, in­clud­ing Green­peace.

“POIG rep­re­sents ‘best in class’ stan­dards for palm oil pro­duc­tion and prop­erly ad­dresses the en­vi­ron­men­tal, so­cial and hu­man rights im­pacts of palm oil de­vel­op­ment. Lo­cal peo­ple shouldn’t have to lose their liveli­hoods over palm oil, but the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion means the pro­duc­tion of palm oil can re­sult in land grabs, loss of liveli­hoods and so­cial con­flict,” Kiki said.

Green­peace ar­gued that the eco­nomic ben­e­fits of the palm oil boom had fallen to a hand­ful of al­ready­wealthy in­di­vid­u­als that con­trol the big plan­ta­tion com­pa­nies.

The watch­dog also noted that the Oil Palm Small­hold­ers Union (SPKS) had filed a ju­di­cial re­view in April this year on a 2015 gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tion on plan­ta­tion funds, specif­i­cally about sub­si­dies for bio­fuel prod­ucts. The union ar­gued that reg­u­la­tion had failed to in­crease palm oil pro­duc­tiv­ity as it was sup­posed to, and only ben­e­fited com­pa­nies re­ceiv­ing biodiesel in­cen­tives.

In 2016, the Cor­rup­tion Erad­i­ca­tion Com­mis­sion (KPK) is­sued a re­port on the palm oil in­dus­try and showed that from Au­gust 2015 to April 2016, 81.8 per­cent of the bio­fuel sub­sidy to­talling 3.26 tril­lion ru­piah (K358.6 bil­lion) was chan­nelled to four com­pa­nies.

“Only a frac­tion of this amount has been spent on small­hold­ers,” said Kiki.

“It is these prac­tices that in­sult the dig­nity of In­done­sia, and palm oil traders like Wil­mar jeop­ar­dise In­done­sian palm oil com­modi­ties and the state econ­omy in the long run. Green­peace calls on the gov­ern­ment to take firm ac­tion against these for­est de­stroy­ers, and law en­force­ment is key,” said Kiki.

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