This morning, the EPA announced limits on carbon pollution from power plants. That's a welcome step in fighting climate change—and it wouldn't have happened without communities speaking out against coal plants. Here at RAN, we're proud of the role our network of friends and activists has played in building pressure over the last several years.
Stop TXU! Activists stage protests against financial institutions linked to Texas utility company TXU’s controversial plans to build 11 new coal-fired power plants as part of an expansion strategy that would make it the single largest corporate greenhouse gas emitter in the Unites States. Winter 2007. Photo: Andrew Stern.
University of Kentucky Fossil Fools Day. Students raise a wind turbine atop a coal mound as part of an action for Fossil Fools Day at University of Kentucky. April 1, 2008.
Wise Coal Action. Virginia residents and anti-coal activists form a blockade to disrupt the construction of Dominion's Wise County Coal-Fired Power Plant. September 2008.
Capitol Climate Action. Thousands of activists surround the Capitol Coal Plant in Washington DC to demand its retirement. March 2009.
Duke Energy's Cliffside Coal Plant. RAN activists holding a banner in front of Duke Energy's Cliffside coal plant in Cliffside, North Carolina. The banner action coincided with the release a new report, The Principle Matter: Banks, Climate & The Carbon Principles. January 2011.
Crawford Coal Plant Banner. Six activists with the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO), Rising Tide North America, Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and the Backbone Campaign climbed the fence to Midwest Generation’s controversial Crawford coal plant in Little Village. The activists unfurled a 7' x 30' banner atop a 20-foot tall sprawling coal pile that feeds the power plant, which reads: "Close Chicago's Toxic Coal Plants." April 2011.
Stand with Pat: Tell BofA to Stop Funding Coal. Grandmothers Pat Moore and Beth Henry and seven others were arrested outside of four different Bank of America branches in Charlotte, NC delivering a simple yet urgent message to the bank: they must STOP funding coal. November 2012. Photo: © Paul Corbit Brown.
On Tuesday, Indonesia's second largest pulp and paper company, Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL), released an updated Sustainable Forest Management Policy. While this policy is notable, especially given APRIL’s recent suspension from the World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD), it falls far short of what is needed for APRIL to clean up its act. It should also be noted that over the years, APRIL has repeatedly failed to meet similar commitments, raising the possibility that this is simply another PR move to alleviate pressure and scrutiny from consumers and NGO’s.
For years, APRIL has been the subject of controversy related to deforestation and human rights violations, due to ethically dubious business practices on the part of both APRIL and its owner Sukanto Tanoto.
Sukanto Tanoto, an Indonesian business tycoon, is also the head of Royal Golden Eagle International (RGE), and has dealings in palm oil and viscose staples fiber (dissolving pulp) as well. This new commitment is rife with policy gaps and, in fact, could allow the continued pulping of rainforests for paper until 2020. APRIL has not committed to stop natural forest conversion until the end of this year, and is continuing to feed its 2 million ton-capacity mill with rainforest fiber. Furthermore, the commitment does not address the fact that April and suppliers have cleared and converted vast areas of high conservation value and natural rainforest, despite these areas being identified as HCVs in need of protection.
APRIL has also omitted any safeguards to prevent ongoing land-grabs and human rights abuses by Toba Pulp Lestari (an RGE-affiliated company) perpetrated on Indigenous people in areas under development. As recently as last week, new protests over land-grabs have broken out near PT RAPP, where APRIL’s massive pulp mill is located. Local community members are blocking logging trucks to the mill and organizing to resist APRIL encroachment, highlighting the continued non-cooperation with local people impacted by APRIL’s operation.
In order to translate to change on the ground, the commitment must extend to all of RGE and APRIL’s sister companies and suppliers, and must close loopholes on the critical issues of human rights, peatland development and high conservation value forests. Even the commitment itself is murky, as APRIL fails to disclose the most basic information needed to understand what is being promised and assess the company's performance. Transparency and reporting on progress are necessary to ensure that commitments are met.
While, this is a positive commitment, APRIL has yet to undertake a path to true reform. Pulp and paper customers must demand more before considering doing business with any of Sukanto Tanoto's vast network of companies, which still remain entirely unaccountable for the consequences of their actions. In the meantime, the WBCSD should continue high level scrutiny of APRIL's actions until APRIL has proven that it can fully turn its practices around.
//www.youtube.com/embed/uozNAWnuqPU?rel=0&vq=hd720Please take action now to protect the extraordinary Leuser Ecosystem forever! You can read more from Tezar below: Hello, My name is Tezar Pahlevie. This year I was honored by winning the 2013 GRASP Conservation award for my team’s work restoring rainforests damaged by illegal palm oil plantations, but now, a dangerous push from palm oil companies could see all our hard work undone. I write from my home in Aceh, on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, because the people and the place I love most are in danger and I urgently need support from people around the world to save them. Please join me in asking the governor of Aceh to protect the world class Leuser Ecosystem by nominating it as a new UNESCO World Heritage site. This is a really scary time for me, because the governor of Aceh has on his desk a disastrous plan that would remove crucial protections from the Leuser Ecosystem, opening up huge areas of some of the world’s most biologically diverse forests to major industrial development. This new plan could be signed by the governor at any time. The six million acre Leuser Ecosystem is home to the densest population of orangutans remaining anywhere and it is the only place where orangutans, tigers, elephants, rhinos and sun bears live in the same forest together.Nearly four million people depend on the rainforests of the Leuser Ecosytem to provide them with clean water for drinking, irrigation and food production. I am really sad and frustrated because every day and every month I see the destruction of the forests around my home. We in Aceh have experienced the dangerous floods that come after the logging and destroy people’s homes, livelihoods and in some cases, takes the lives of our friends or family. Witnessing all this destruction breaks my heart. We have a different vision for Aceh. We must protect the Leuser Ecosystem and the people who rely on it. The Aceh people have long fought to protect these forests because they provide us with clean water, food and are important for the next generation. It is urgent that the governor of Aceh hears from you now. Just recently, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) identified the Leuser Ecosystem as one of the world’s foremost “irreplaceable areas” that must be protected to preserve biodiversity. I stand with scientists from across the world who are right now calling on the governor of Aceh to protect our forests by nominating the region to become a new UNESCO World Heritage site. It gives me hope that by people across the world calling on the governor, he will listen to the people instead of the companies that want to destroy our forests, and work to find a balance that will protect the forests and the livelihoods of Aceh’s people. Please take action today to automatically send a fax to Governor Dr. Zaini Abdullah asking him to listen to the traditional wisdom of Aceh’s people by supporting the nomination of the Leuser Ecosystem as a new UNESCO World Heritage site. Semangat - keep the spirit, Tezar Pahlevie Conservationist and 2013 GRASP Conservation Award Winner
Clearance of forest for a new Bumitama palm oil plantation. Photo: The Centre for Orangutan Protection[/caption]
[TRIGGER WARNING] This article documents rainforest destruction and incidents of orangutan fatalities in relation to the production of Conflict Palm Oil which is regularly used by Cargill and the Snack Food 20 companies. Pictures in this article and in the full report are disturbing.
"Conflict Palm Oil" is now one of the leading causes of rainforest and peatland destruction and a leading driver of global warming. If this wasn’t bad enough, Conflict Palm Oil production is responsible for widespread human rights violations and the use of child labor and modern day slavery. But what does it look like on the ground in Indonesia and Malaysia? And who is at risk of buying Conflict Palm Oil tied to rainforest destruction and orangutan deaths?
When thinking of how to describe Conflict Palm Oil, one company comes to mind: Bumitama Agri Ltd. Bumitama is a palm oil company that owns and controls a number of subsidiaries that operate 198,000 hectares of palm oil plantations and processing plants in Borneo and Sumatra. 133,000 hectares of its concessions are already planted with palm oil, and the company is currently planting new areas at an aggressive rate of 15,000 hectares a year with a target of 200,000 hectares in plantations by 2017. In its rampant expansion, Bumitama has even endangered Indonesian national parks and forest reserves, including one concession that is impacting Tanjung Puting National Park in Borneo. Bumitama's plans to establish palm oil plantations within the Tanjung Puting National Park and its buffer zone will further degrade the ecological integrity of this critical protected area and threaten the survival of the orangutans that live in it.
Draining of peatland, seen here on Bumitama's concession that includes land inside and adjacent to the Tanjung Puting National Park, is a major contributor to global warming.
Independent field investigations have documented the destruction of forests in three of Bumitama’s subsidiaries plantations that were the home to some of the last Borneo orangutans that remain in the wild. One of the investigations was done by the orangutan rescue organization called The Centre for Orangutan Protection (COP). A young orangutan was rescued from within a Bumitama plantation in August which, sadly, died in the care of a worker. Two weeks ago today, COP were called in to rescue another juvenile orangutan from the same area that was being cleared for a new Bumitama plantation.
There are multiple instances where Bumitama have cleared critically important forests and endangered orangutan habitat. You can see more of the evidence on this bad actor’s actions in our full report.
With their forests destroyed, orangutans are left to fend for themselves. Photo: The Centre for Orangutan Protection
Some orangutans are rescued by the COP. Photo: The Centre for Orangutan Protection
But even rescued orangutans are harmed, like this one who has had its hands mutilated by plantation workers. Photo: The Centre for Orangutan Protection
The Snack Food 20 and Cargill
So how does Conflict Palm Oil from producers like Bumitama make its way into American snack foods? Our report shows that both the Snack Food 20 and Cargill are at risk of buying Conflict Palm Oil from Bumitama. The global agribusiness traders who purchase Conflict Palm Oil from Bumitama blend it into palm oil supply chains that feed into the global market. Cargill is a major supplier that does not require the origin of most of the palm oil it buys and trades for global markets to be known and tracked.
Simply put, Cargill has no way of knowing whether it has Conflict Palm Oil that has been produced by Bumitama in its palm oil mix. Despite years of pressuring Cargill to do the right thing, it has refused to implement safeguards that would allow it to prevent Conflict Palm Oil from contaminating its global supply chain.
Cargill's is a major supplier of palm oil to consumer companies like the Snack Food 20. Cargill needs to put fully traceable supply chain systems in place so it knows the sources of all the palm oil it handles and profits from, and can eliminate Conflict Palm Oil palm from its supply chains. Cargill should adopt a “No Trade” list and publicly list the companies, including Bumitama, that it will not buy Conflict Palm Oil from. Until Cargill implements these safeguards on its global supply chain, Bumitama can not be ruled out as a source of Conflict Palm Oil contaminating Cargill’s palm oil supply and the products of the Snack Food 20.
Some orangutans don't survive after losing their forest home. Photo: The Centre for Orangutan Protection
A rescued orangutan is rehabilitated by The Centre for Orangutan Protection after being found mutilated on a Bumitama plantation.
There is a solution, and it starts with the Snack Food 20. The Snack Food 20 companies can use their purchasing power and influence to drive changes by adopting global responsible palm oil procurement policies and demanding that their suppliers, like Cargill, eliminate Conflict Palm Oil from their supply chain. (Read more about the Snack Food 20 and Conflict Palm Oil at conflictpalmoil.org.)
If the Snack Food 20 companies take these steps, and succeed in convincing traders to address the lack of transparency and traceability in palm oil supply chains, the demand for responsible palm oil will grow and provide a significant incentive for palm oil producers to fundamentally change their practices and stop destroying rainforests, worsening climate change, and violating human and labor rights.
What can traders like Cargill do?
Traders like Cargill buy massive volumes of palm oil from the companies that grow, mill, and refine palm oil. Traders are the linchpin in the international palm oil supply chain and they have uniquely influential leverage to drive a transformation in the way palm oil is produced. By failing to adopt their own global responsible palm oil procurement policy and address the lack of transparency and traceability in palm oil supply chains, traders like Cargill are placing their customers brands at risk by continuing to supply them with Conflict Palm Oil. Traders must use their influence to drive changes in the way palm oil is produced by adopting global responsible palm oil procurement policies that insist that the palm oil they buy from refineries, mills and growers is fully traceable and not associated with deforestation, expansion onto carbon-rich peatlands or human and labor rights violations.
Volunteers on the ground are working to undo the damage Bumitama has done.