Companies abandon palm oil pledge
Green groups fear new laws mean lower standards
Several large palm oil companies have ditched a "zero deforestation" pledge in favour of less strict standards favoured by the Indonesian government.
The Indonesia Palm Oil Pledge, or Ipop, was seen as a major step forward in combating deforestation and the destruction of peatlands, mostly from deliberate fires aimed at clearing land for production.
But according to Singapore based newspaper, the Straits Times, this has now been ditched in favour of the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil system, or Ispo.
The Ispo, which is now mandatory, bans land-clearing in primary forests and peatlands. The Ipop, which is voluntary, goes further by banning land-clearing in secondary forests and bushland that has a high carbon content.
The palm oil companies said that Ipop had "run its course and was no longer needed" and that they now supported the Indonesian government's efforts to "transform the palm oil sector" and to strengthen the country's own certification standards.
The grouping said in a statement:
"Ipop signatories have decided that recent groundbreaking policy developments in Indonesia have fulfilled the purpose of Ipop to help accelerate and promote this transformation toward sustainability and therefore its presence can be dissolved,"
They pointed to government actions that included the creation of a peatland restoration agency.
The companies involved include some of the biggest palm oil producers:
- Wilmar International
- Golden Agri Resources (GAR)
- Asian Agri
- Musim Mas
- Astra Agro Lestari
Greenpeace Indonesia's forest campaigner, Annisa Rahmawati, said:
"The government officials have bullied and threatened Ipop members". The Ministry of Agriculture needs to get its priorities right. Last year's forest fires crippled Indonesia's economy and poisoned people across the region".
Cargill said in a statement:
"With the affirmative action by Indonesia towards a sustainable palm oil sector, Cargill supports the dissolution of Ipop."
In a statement, Wilmar International said:
"In the past year, the Government of Indonesia (GOI) has shown much leadership in strengthening its sustainability policies. These include the moratorium on peatland development and the creation of the National Peat Restoration Agency, the moratorium on new permits for oil palm plantations, as well as progress on the legal protection of High Conservation Value (HCV) areas. All these actions are clear indications of the GOI's resolve to progress towards a sustainable palm oil sector."
Wilmar said, given these developments, "IPOP as an entity is no longer required". But it stressed it would "continue its zero-deforestation, no peat, no fires and no exploitation policies as before."
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