That is what this post is all about. Simply: Thank You.
After seven long years of campaigning against Cargill -- the biggest privately held corporation in the US – we have seen a groundbreaking commitment from them along with a seismic shift in the palm oil sector to protect disappearing rainforests and to keep massive amounts of carbon in the ground and out of the atmosphere.
To mark this victory, our staff has compiled this photographic timeline of this wide-ranging campaign to keep Conflict Palm Oil out of our food and to protect our forests and the communities and wildlife that depend on them.
Of course, this fight is by no means over. But as the executive director of Rainforest Action Network, I want you to know that your support on this issue is directly responsible for this progress. Your support – from your emails, your signatures, your phone calls, your social media action and your donations to your presence at RAN nonviolent direct actions such as occupying Cargill headquarters, marching in the streets, and creating massive public demonstrations to bring the message directly to Cargill – has made this possible.
And as we enter into this season of gratitude and giving, everyone here at RAN would like to extend our deepest thanks to all of you for your support.
So, again: Thank You.
See a Photo Timeline of the Cargill Campaign.
Rainforest Action Network.
This holiday shopping season, stand for forests by telling retailers and manufacturers that there’s only one way to earn your dollars -- by standing for the planet.
Around the world, thousands are demanding Big Fashion eliminate forest destruction to create fabrics. Some of the biggest names in fashion are responsible for the pulping of pristine forests for clothing. The destruction of these forests creates a ripple effect: human rights abuses, land grabbing, habitat and biodiversity loss, climate disruption and toxics pollution.
This holiday shopping season, we need YOU to send a message to Big Fashion: I may buy clothing for the holidays, but I’ll only buy from companies who can prove their products are deforestation free.
Please sign the deforestation free shopping pledge and share it with your friends and family. Let’s build this movement to eliminate forest destruction for clothing.
We’ll pass your message on to the Fashion 15 -- the companies RAN is asking to take the lead in protecting forests:
- Closet Classics: Guess, Abercrombie and Fitch, Forever 21, Velvet, & Limited Brands (Victoria’s Secret, The Limited, etc)
- Athletic Wear: Under Armour, Foot Locker, Gaiam, Beyond Yoga
- Luxury Brands: Prada Group (Prada, Miu Miu, etc), Vince, Tory Burch, Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, and LVMH (Dior, Donna Karen, Fendi, Givenchy, Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton, etc)
The Leuser Ecosystem, one of the most important rainforests in Southeast Asia, is being destroyed for massive industrial development including the expansion of palm oil plantations. Everyday important sections of this precious ecosystem are being systematically cut down, pushing rare species like Sumatran orangutans, elephants and rhinos to the brink of extinction.
A new RAN report exposes the links between palm oil giant Musim Mas Group and this destruction. The destruction of the Leuser Ecosystem has to stop and with your help it will. Take action today and tell Musim Mas to break its ties to the destruction of the Leuser Ecosystem.
The Leuser Ecosystem is a vast, teeming, ancient landscape on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia that covers over 6.5 million acres including lowland and mountainous rainforests and over 460,000 acres of carbon-rich peatlands. It is like nowhere else on Earth—it contains some of the world's highest known levels of plant and animal diversity including at least 105 mammal species, 382 bird species, and 95 reptile and amphibian species.
It is also home to the largest extent of intact forest landscapes remaining in Sumatra. Scientists and conservationists consider the Leuser Ecosystem to be among the most important forests left in Southeast Asia, particularly because it is the last place in the region of sufficient size and quality to support viable populations of rare species like Sumatran tigers, orangutans, rhinos, elephants, clouded leopards and sun bears. The Leuser Ecosystem is in fact the last place on Earth where all these species can still be found together.
The forests of the Leuser Ecosystem provide a steady, clean water supply to millions of people living in Aceh, a province home to a diverse range of rural communities—many of whom have lived in the region for generations and depend on the ecosystem for their food and their livelihoods.
The region also plays a critical role in regulating the global climate by storing massive amounts of carbon in its peatlands and standing forests.
Today, the Leuser Ecosystem exists at a tenuous crossroads. Despite being protected under Indonesian national law, the Leuser Ecosystem is under siege from palm oil plantations and multiple other development plans.
RAN’s new report titled The Last Place on Earth Exposing the Threats to the Leuser Ecosystem: A Global Biodiversity Hotspot Deserving Protection, exposes the links between palm oil giant Musim Mas Group and the destruction of the Leuser Ecosystem.
Musim Mas Group is a large company involved in every step of palm oil production. It has its own plantations and factories across Indonesia and ships palm oil to buyers—including the Snack Food 20—across the globe.
Field evidence outlined in our report shows that Musim Mas Group's refinery at the Port of Belawan in North Sumatra sources crude palm oil from the PT. Pati Sari mill. Field evidence also shows that the PT. Pati Sari mill processes palm oil fruit grown at the expense of rainforests inside the Leuser Ecosystem.
At a time when the largest palm oil traders have committed to cut rainforest destruction and human rights abuses from global supply chains, Musim Mas is delaying taking real action. Musim Mas Group must adopt and implement a leading global responsible palm oil policy. Musim Mas must ensure that all of its suppliers halt the clearance of rainforests and peatlands and resolve existing conflicts with communities who rely on the Leuser Ecosystem for their survival.
The Leuser Ecosystem must be protected for future generations. Take action today and tell Musim Mas to break its ties to the destruction of the Leuser Ecosystem.
As Rainforest Action Network’s palm oil campaigners wrap up a full, fast and furious week here at the 12th annual gathering of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, we can’t help but reflect a bit on this pivotal moment. This dispatch is meant to shed some light on what we see next for the responsible palm oil movement.
Let’s be real: palm oil plantations are directly descended from a colonial model that requires artificially cheap (read: stolen) land and artificially cheap (read: slave) labor to be profitable, or at least to be as wildly profitable as it has proven to be. This industrial-scale, scorched-earth style of agriculture has now been violently imposed upon tens of millions of people across millions of acres of forest in Indonesia and Malaysia and is now aggressively seeking to expand into primary forests in Africa, Latin America and Papua New Guinea.
So when we talk about achieving a deforestation-free palm oil sector that respects its workers and does not leave wholesale ecological carnage in its wake, we are not talking about reforming a few bad apples or tweaking some industry practices here and there. We are talking about fundamentally transforming a deeply entrenched multibillion-dollar business empire that is permeated with corruption and a lack of transparency and has made its top power players very, very rich.
In this context, the gains achieved by a small band of environmental and human rights NGOs over the past couple of years is truly remarkable. Just in the past eighteen months, many of the biggest actors in the palm oil world, and it is a world unto itself, have made high profile public commitments to stop logging forests, to respect human and labor rights and to stop the worst of the worst of the extreme carbon pollution their development is responsible for.
Have these lofty pledges been implemented down to the ground to improve the lives of laborers and save the habitat of endangered orangutans? No, not yet. Will it be enough even if current commitments are implemented fully? No, it won’t.
That said, these kind of comprehensive commitments, many covering third party suppliers across entire supply chains, were unthinkable just a few years ago and it cannot be denied that a corner of some sort has been turned, a new benchmark for what is acceptable has been set, a real sense of momentum is at hand.
So what now?
As NGOs, many of us are struggling to adjust after many years of throwing rocks from the outside, trying to ring the alarm to get the world to pay attention, to an uncomfortable but encouraging new reality where we keep campaigning full tilt to bring along the laggards, but also try to help the behemoth companies that have made pledges to figure out how to actually accomplish the promises we’ve bludgeoned them into making.
Whole new systems need to be developed, new mapping, Indigenous land tenure and tracking tools need to be built, new accountability and verification processes must be set in place, new data must be collected, new research needs to be done, meaningful engagement with communities must be implemented, grievance mechanisms that actually work need to be instituted, entire new oversight devices must be established for an industry that is notoriously opaque and fiendishly complex.
Just for companies to figure out where the oil they use is coming from is a surprisingly huge undertaking, much less to legitimately ensure that workers on remote plantations are being recruited ethically and treated well on the job. A new army of private, third party consultants is emerging; a whole new branch of business infrastructure is taking shape.
RAN is involved at the foundation of many of the new initiatives that aim to make the nice words on paper turn into tangible results that improve millions of lives and preserve earth’s remaining rainforests from the seemingly unstoppable juggernaut of palm oil plantation expansion.
Here is a quick breakdown of the primary initiatives we are most excited about and believe to be the most promising pathways to institute real change moving forward:
Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG):
The POIG is a collaborative initiative between NGOs and leading, progressive palm oil producing companies that goes above and beyond the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to demonstrate what truly responsible palm oil production looks like. The POIG is quickly growing in membership and has recently added labor organizations and consumer facing companies and is building its expertise in field verification. The hope is the POIG can create enough gravity to pull the RSPO as a whole further towards stronger standards and more robust enforcement.
The High Carbon Stock Approach:
The HCS Approach was first developed by Greenpeace, Golden Agri Resources (GAR) and The Forest Trust (TFT) and is a comprehensive approach to land use planning that integrates social and ecological factors to identify what areas can and cannot be developed in order to avoid deforestation while respecting communities’ rights. This approach continues to be refined and trialed in Liberia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea and an incredible multi-stakeholder governing body has been established to make sure companies actually protect forests and respond to the needs of communities.
Fair Labor Principles:
RAN has been working closely with dozens of Indonesian, Malaysian and international labor and environmental allies over the past year to build consensus for a widely agreed upon standard for fair labor principles in the palm oil sector. When complete, this detailed set of standards will be delivered as a set of recommendations to help guide companies, plantation certification bodies and government regulators towards eliminating systemic abuses currently rife throughout the palm oil industry.
Palm Oil Action Team (POAT):
Ten of the Snack Food Twenty companies targeted by RAN’s Conflict Palm Oil campaign have made substantial public commitments to clean up their palm oil supply chains, but there are still ten major food giants to go! The dedicated team of activists called the Palm Oil Action Team will be crucial to generate the pressure needed to bring these laggards along while holding all twenty companies accountable to their promises. PepsiCo is in the crosshairs now and others will soon follow until the whole sector has been purged of the egregious abuses of Conflict Palm Oil!
For over a year, Rainforest Action Network and our allies have been calling on PepsiCo to cut Conflict Palm Oil from its supply chain. The reason is simple: with an annual usage of 457,200 metric tons of palm oil, what Pepsi does has a huge impact on the climate, the rainforests of Southeast Asia, and the people and animals that rely on these forests for their lives and livelihoods.
Pepsi could be a leader in sustainability, could rise above its competitors and do the right thing, but instead it has relied on half measures and a commitment with gaps big enough to drive a bulldozer through.
Activists have responded by increasing our pressure on Pepsi, with a global Day of Action this spring, events across the US this summer, and an active online push that's ongoing. We're organizing a Global Call-In Day on December 9th that you can join here. We won't stop until Pepsi commits to cutting Conflict Palm Oil.
That's why this morning, hundreds of activists from Rainforest Action Network and Sum of Us went to the Amazon.com page of Pepsi's new product launch, something it is calling "Pepsi True." Conflict Palm Oil is "truly destructive," and activists made that point clear with their comments, questions, and reviews on the page.
Within a few hours, the page was taken down from Amazon.com, gone as if it never existed. Pepsi wants to hide its rainforest destruction, wants to delete its association with human rights abuses, wants to scrub away any connection it has to the extinction of the world's last orangutans.
But Pepsi can't hide -- not from the destruction that it refuses to eliminate from its supply chain, and not from activists like you.
Pepsi hopes you'll forget about its track record and just #LiveForNow. We're not going to let that happen. Today we took down Pepsi's product launch. On December 9th, thousands of activists around the world will launch a Global Call-In Day, demanding change. Let's make sure Pepsi hears us loud and clear -- we won't stand for forest destruction for cheap snacks. Join the Global Call-In Day here.
Want to see what scared Pepsi so badly? Here's what trying, and failing, to launch a product without protecting forests looks like.
This message comes from Adelbert Gangai and George Baure of Collingwood Bay, Papua New Guinea. They are two of many local residents fiercely resisting KLK's attempted landgrab of the community's forests.
Our names are Adelbert Gangai and George Baure. We are calling on you today from the tribes of Collingwood Bay, Papua New Guinea, to ask you to take action to support us in defending our land from destruction by the palm oil giant KLK.
Our villages are spread across a pristine stretch of isolated coastline backed by vast mountains and valleys covered in some of the most lush and biodiverse rainforest on earth. Our people practice a subsistence-based lifestyle, living close to the land by hunting and gathering within our rich customary territory. We mean to maintain this existence and keep control our own destiny at all costs.
We have traveled from our homes to Malaysia to join our allies at Rainforest Action Network for a second time at the annual meeting of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). We are here again because the formal complaint, which we filed over a year and a half ago with the RSPO to protest attempts to develop our land against our will, has yet to be resolved.
Last year, when we were frustrated that the RSPO had refused to respond to our official complaint, over 10,000 RAN supporters sent messages to KLK and the RSPO and the pressure worked to secure us a meeting and finally move our protest forward. But now we are stalled again and we need your help to pressure the RSPO to take steps to resolve our case for good.
The land KLK intends to develop is roughly 85 percent primary forest. Our people have repeatedly and unequivocally declared our united opposition to any foreign palm oil development on our land. In fact, with the strength of the national laws of Papua New Guinea behind us, we have stated in the strongest of possible terms that neither KLK nor its agents have permission to enter Collingwood Bay without our express consent.
For these reasons, there is no way the parcel KLK claims rights to can be developed while obeying the standards of the RSPO. Yet KLK continues to keep land-clearing machinery on site in Collingwood Bay, and the company has expressed no intention of leaving our land.
This continued presence is causing anxiety and uncertainty among our people. We could not be more clear: we want KLK to leave Collingwood Bay and we want them to do it now. If this case does not provide an easy opportunity for the RSPO to show that its complaints resolution process is a valid tool for achieving solutions, then its legitimacy truly is in question.
Our question to the RSPO is: what’s next? What steps is the RSPO taking to bring this outstanding case to a close?
In April 2012, Collingwood Bay landowners filed a RSPO complaint against major Malaysian palm oil grower Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad (KLK) for its intentions to develop palm oil on their customary lands, despite the fact that the Chiefs of Collingwood Bay had issued a joint communiqué stating that there will be no palm oil on their lands.
Collingwood Bay landowners have since won a major court victory revoking two of the three leases claimed by KLK. However, the company still claims a third lease in Collingwood Bay, Lot 5, and has stated that it has no intentions to leave.
Lot 5 is covered in primary forest and holds important hunting grounds for the local communities. Any development of Lot 5 for palm oil would violate KLK’s commitments as a RSPO member to not clear primary forests or High Conservation Value Forests.
Given this, there is no reason KLK should remain in Collingwood Bay.
Tell the RSPO to take immediate action to resolve this complaint.
Sign the Petition!
We, the undersigned, call on the RSPO to take meaningful steps to bring the formal complaint against KLK by the landowners of Collingwood Bay to a successful resolution.
The chiefs of Collingwood Bay are united in their opposition to industrial development and the land KLK intends to develop is covered in approximately 85 percent primary, High Conservation Value forest. For these reasons, there is no way KLK could ever develop this parcel while obeying the standards of the RSPO.
Yet, over a year and a half after the landowners filed their complaint, KLK land-clearing machinery remains on site in Collingwood Bay and the RSPO complaint remains open and unresolved.
This case provides an opportunity for the RSPO to demonstrate that its complaints resolution process is a legitimate tool for effectively resolving conflicts between companies and communities.
We demand to hear what steps the RSPO plans to take to engage KLK and ensure that the lack of consent that has been made clear by of the landowners of Collingwood Bay is respected and KLK leaves Collingwood Bay as requested.
Ready to start planning for the December 9th PepsiCo Global Call-in Day? Sign up to let us know that you’re ready to organize your friends and family to call PepsiCo to demand an end to Conflict Palm Oil and protection for the Leuser Ecosystem. Can you organize, 5, 10, or 15 people in your circle?
Thanks to your participation in the PepsiCo Global Call-in Day, we’re on our way to driving thousands of calls into PepsiCo offices around the world this December 9th. A few copies of the call script and a simple plan for who you’ll reach out to are all that you need to inspire your community to call PepsiCo. Here are a few easy ideas to find people to make a call:
- RSVP to the PepsiCo Global Call-in Day Facebook event and ask your Facebook community to participate!
- Ask the people that you’ll already be seeing that day to make a call -- the people that you live and work with are a great place to start.
- Bring call scripts to your office/school/meeting and ask everyone to take a 3 min. break to make a call.
- Stand outside your local grocery store, library or another location with high foot traffic and ask people to stop and make a call before they go inside.
- If you are a teacher, encourage your students make calls as part of your classes.
Communicating about the PepsiCo Global Call-in Day
When asking folks to make a call to PepsiCo on December 9th, explain why we need PepsiCo to cut Conflict Palm Oil, but keep it simple. Here’s an example of how to ask someone to make a call whether its face-to-face, via email or social media:
I'm working to stop the destruction of rainforests for Conflict Palm Oil today by asking people to make a quick phone call to PepsiCo! PepsiCo is a massive snack food company and a major user of the Conflict Palm Oil that is destroying rainforests and causing shocking human rights abuses in Indonesia and Malaysia. PepsiCo is still refusing to take responsibility for the consequences of the palm oil in its supply chain but it really cares what people think of its products, so today, thousands of people around the world are calling to tell the company that its inaction is unacceptable. Will you take a minute right now to call PepsiCo?
- All of the information that anyone will need to make a call can be found on our Global Call in Day page. On the page, you’ll find PepsiCo office phone numbers in every country and a script that will give you an idea of what to say when you are on the phone with PepsiCo staff.
- Activism is always more fun when you have a buddy! Ask a friend or two to join you in hitting the streets, recruiting friends or hosting a party!
- When you are asking people to make a call, ask them to do it right then as opposed to “later” (it shouldn’t take more than 2 minutes per person to make a call)
If every single person on the Palm Oil Action Team inspires 15 people to make a call, PepsiCo will receive over 100k calls from around the world. Let's make it happen!
Do you have a question or want to talk with someone about the Global Call-in Day? Email us at PalmOilAction@RAN.org.
Looking for more information on how to organize your friends and family to join the Global Call-In Day? Check our Resources page here.
Big energy corporations are clearcutting forests throughout the Southeast United States, chopping the trees into pellets and shipping them to Europe to be burned for fuel.
Forests aren’t fuel. But biomass companies are cutting down whole trees to burn in European power plants. This scourge is huge, and it’s growing. From Louisiana to Virginia, there are 20 wood pellet facilities up and running, and 33 more being proposed.1 Wood pellet exports from the U.S. doubled last year, from 1.6 million tons in 2012 to 3.2 million tons in 2013 -- and they’ve been projected to nearly double again by next year, to 5.7 million tons in 2015. 99% of U.S. exports came from the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic, and 98% went to Europe.2
This is all a terrible unintended consequence of a well-intentioned policy. A few years ago, European policymakers mandated that 20% of power come from renewable sources, and set up significant subsidies to help countries meet that target. The problem is, under this policy, wood counts as a renewable fuel source. The result? Insatiable European demand for wood pellets, and widespread destruction of Southern U.S. forests.
In fact, a recent study by the U.K. Department for Energy and Climate Change confirmed what a number of studies have shown: that burning whole trees for fuel is worse for the climate than burning coal.3 The Southern forests that are suffering from E.U. policy have more diverse tree species than anywhere in North America, and the world’s most biodiverse freshwater ecosystem. And, like forests everywhere, they serve as invaluable protection for drinking water for local communities.
Bad for the climate, bad for biodiversity, bad for communities: it’s past time to address this growing crisis. So today, as the wood products industry meets in Chesapeake, Virginia, the Dogwood Alliance and its allies across the country are holding a National Day of Action to pressure European policymakers to stop incentivizing burning forests for fuel.
1. “Forests for Fuel”, Dogwood Alliance
2. “The Truth About the Biomass Industry: How Wood Pellet Exports Pollute Our Climate and Damage Our Forests”, Natural Resources Defense Council
3. “New Study Confirms That Some Biomass is Dirtier Than Coal”, Natural Resources Defense Council