Greenpeace: Palm oil campaign not effort at sabotage

The Jakarta Globe: October 18, 2010: by Fidelis E Satriastanti

International environmental group Greenpeace is denying accusations that it is waging a foreign-funded campaign aimed at sabotaging the palm oil industry in Indonesia.

Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace International, said over the weekend that the group's only motivation was preserving the environment for future generations.

"We are not trying to blacken [Indonesia's] palm oil [industry]. In Brazil, we're against soya and cattle ranches because they are the two main drivers of deforestation there. What are the two main drivers [of deforestation] in Indonesia? [The industries behind] pulp and paper and palm oil," Kumi said.

"We are worried about what will happen to our children. If we continue [development] in nonsustainable ways, we will be destroying their future."

Greenpeace Southeast Asia has been waging an aggressive campaign against palm oil companies that allegedly cause massive deforestation and forest degradation in Indonesia. In July 2010 it released a report titled "How Sinar Mas Is Pulping the Planet," which accused one of the world's leading pulp and paper companies, Sinar Mas-owned Asia Pulp & Paper, of crimes against the environment.

As a result of Greenpeace campaigns, major international buyers, such as Burger King, Unilever, Nestle and Kraft, have stopped buying palm oil from Sinar Mas and its subsidiaries.

A palm oil industry insider, who asked not to be named, questioned Greenpeace's intentions.

"Not all [palm oil] companies run their business carelessly, you can't generalize. This is a maneuver to weaken our palm oil industry because Indonesia has a very strong potential in this [field] and not all countries like that. They are afraid of us so they use these methods," the source said.

Kumi said Greenpeace was not the first group to attack palm oil companies. "It's easy and cheap to blame international NGOs and not address the real issues because Greenpeace Indonesia is not working in isolation and you might have seen other organizations' demands for a moratorium [on palm oil plantation conversion]," he said.

"It's not just us saying all that. For instance, take the recent official statement from the RSPO [Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil] warning Sinar Mas that it had breached certain moral standards. It's own peers are saying that."

RSPO, a group of industry planters, green groups and palm oil buyers, has publicly censured Sinar Mas Agro Resources & Technology by saying the company was in "serious noncompliance" with its principles.

'If only the [Greenpeace ship] Rainbow Warrior was allowed [to dock], we could have an open discussion and stress that we are not against palm oil per se, but against deforestation, and palm oil is driving deforestation," Kumi said.