Greenpeace action is counterproductive. Industry calls for constructive cooperation

Posted on: November 24, 2018

Comment and reaction of EPOA on Greenpeace climbers trying to prevent a palm oil tanker from mooring in Rotterdam harbour.

“In Europe, currently 74 percent of the palm oil used for food is certified as sustainable. Through its members and partners, EPOA mobilizes politicians and puts pressure on governments, industry, food manufacturers and retail to step up their action to switch to sustainable palm oil.  Sustainable palm oil is only possible if Greenpeace uses all its influence, resourcefulness, initiative and energy to reach our goal for 100% certified sustainable palm oil (RSPO or equivalent) by 2020 and stops its current counterproductive action,” said Frans Claassen, chair of the European Palm Oil Alliance (EPOA).

"We can only save the rainforest if the palm oil industry, food manufacturers, civil society organizations and governments work together. With the current action, Greenpeace does not only put its activists at risk, it misses its ultimate target to stop deforestation and might even prove to be counterproductive. The high profile action by Greenpeace makes no distinction between sustainable and dirty palm oil – which we believe is a lost opportunity.

“The European food industry is a frontrunner in making the palm oil supply chain sustainable.  EPOA members strongly believe that, instead of branding all palm oil as dirty palm oil, we should recognise those companies, governments and organizations that are already making the change on the ground to ensure all palm oil production becomes sustainable,” says Frans Claassen.

“We acknowledge that urgent efforts are needed and we welcome the revised and adopted certification of the RSPO on halting deforestation, protecting peat land, and strengthening human and labour rights.  However, negative actions such as those of today by Greenpeace lead to food brands and supermarkets replacing palm oil and consumers boycotting products containing palm oil, including those that use sustainable palm oil. In a leading report by the IUCN, experts agree that a boycott of palm oil does not solve the problems of deforestation. It will in fact lead to more – not less – deforestation when using other oil crops with a much lower yield per hectare and would slow and eventually stop the many programmes that have already made production more sustainable. 

“In Europe, currently 74 percent of the palm oil used for food is certified (RSPO or equivalent) as sustainable. Also noteworthy is that all palm oil that enters Europe is 99% traceable to the mill, and 84% of all palm oil imports fall under no deforestation, no peat and no exploitation (NDPE) commitments. Through its members and partners, EPOA mobilizes politicians and puts pressure on governments, industry, food manufacturers and retail to step up their action and switch to 100% certified sustainable palm oil. In order to create a fully sustainable palm oil supply chain in Europe we need Greenpeace to support the call for the remaining 26% to start using certified sustainable palm oil.

"We are convinced that the European market can become 100% sustainable palm oil (RSPO certified and beyond). In fact we believe the whole of the global supply chain can be produced in a sustainable way. Sustainable palm oil is a key ingredient that helps meet the growing food needs, that helps protect biodiversity and improves socio-economic development and contributes to achieving many of the UN SDGs.

We need influential organizations such as Greenpeace to realize these ambitions. We do not have much time left to change industry, 2020 is tomorrow.  I invite Greenpeace to use all its influence, resourcefulness, initiative and energy to reach our goal for 100% certified sustainable palm oil by 2020”.

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