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Greenpeace protests Finnish company's palm oil purchases

Greenpeace and Bruno Manser Fund protest Finnish company’s palm oil
purchases

JOINT PRESS RELEASE BY BRUNO MANSER FUND, SWITZERLAND, AND GREENPEACE

14 April 2011 for immediate release

Protest at Neste Oil meeting of shareholders in Finland - Swiss NGO: Neste Oil´s palm oil supplier IOI violating land rights, destroying forests

Helsinki/Finland. Activists from Greenpeace are today protesting in Helsinki against deforestation and social problems caused by the growing demand for palm oil in biofuel production. Activists are welcoming shareholders to the annual general meeting of Finnish oil refiner Neste Oil with banners saying: Neste Oil - destroying the rainforests.

Huge investments in biodiesel production have made the company one of the largest single users of palm oil globally. Neste Oil celebrated the opening ceremony of the world´s largest biodiesel refinery in Singapore in March and the next refinery will be opened in Rotterdam later this year. In Indonesia and Malaysia, rainforest and peatlands are being cleared for commodities like palm oil. This causes significant greenhouse gases emissions and also destroys the habitat of endangered species like the orang utans.

The company claims to produce sustainable biofuels, but in practice it is driving a huge increase in global demand for palm oil. Furthermore, only last week, Neste Oil´s sustainability claims took a serious blow when the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) suspended all current and on going certifications of IOI, one of its key suppliers, due to land conflict issues in its operations in Sarawak, Malaysia and illegal deforestation in Ketapang, Indonesia [1], said Matti Liimatainen, Forest Campaigner for Greenpeace Nordic in Finland.

Speaking in a Greenpeace press briefing today in Helsinki, director Lukas Straumann from Swiss NGO Bruno Manser Fonds, specialist in defending rainforests and indigenous people in the Malaysian state of Sarawak, said with regard to IOI:

IOI is far away from being a responsible palm oil producer. The company neglects the problems that it is causing, it does not communicate openly and transparently, causes land conflicts and destroys forests with high conservation values. We find it very strange that European palm oil buyers accept a producer acting like this as their business partner.

In March 2011, in the village of Long Teran Kanan in Sarawak, Malaysia, inhabitants blocked roads to prevent IOI continuing to trespass and harvest palm oil on their lands. This was despite a court ruling over one year ago which declared that IOI’s license to operate was null and void [2]. Recently announced plans by the state of Sarawak to open one million more hectares of land for new palm oil plantations are shocking. Expansion of palm oil plantations is taking place in lands that are important for the culture and livelihoods of indigenous people. And the driving force is growing demand for palm oil, for instance the massive biofuel plans in Europe, said Straumann.

Palm oil biodiesel linked to rainforest destruction is no solution to climate change. On the contrary, it exacerbates the problem if rainforests are felled to make way for palm oil for cars. Even if Neste Oil were only to use existing agricultural land for the production of its palm oil for biofuels, the result of their action means that those agricultural areas will be displaced and established elsewhere, quite possibly still at the expense of forests and valuable ecosystems.

"For climate gains, driving on palm oil from deforestation is not an option", says forest campaigner Matti Liimatainen.

For more information, please see: http://www.greenpeace.fi/palmoil and http://www.bmf.ch/en

[1] http://www.rspo.org/?q=content/announcement-ioi-rspo-grievance-panel-breach-rspo-code-conduct-23-certification-systems-424-

[2] http://indigenouspeoplesissues.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=9424:sarawak-ioi-pelita-continue-to-trespass-into-ncr-land-despite-court-ruling-prompting-blockade-by-the-natives&catid=62:southeast-asia-indigenous-peoples&Itemid=84

Picture 1: Greenpeace campaigners protesting at NESTE OIL's annual shareholder meeting in Helsinki, Finland, 14 April 2011

Picture 2: Rainforest destruction at Long Teran Kanan, Sarawak (Malaysia), by IOI, Malaysia's second-largest palm oil producer

Picture 3: Villagers from Long Teran Kanan, Sarawak (Malaysia), protesting against the Malaysian IOI corporation that claims to sell "sustainable" palm oil, March 2011

Picture 4: Peatswamp forest destruction by the Malaysian IOI corporation near Ketapang, Kalimantan (Indonesia (Picture: Friends of the Earth International)

ENDS

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