Indonesia’s rainforests are the third largest on Earth and are home to 10 to 15 percent of all known species of plants, mammals and birds and are vital in regulating the Earth’s climate. In fact, along with other forests they are our strongest defence against climate change.
But they are being destroyed to grow palm oil - a vegetable oil that comes from the fruit of the palm tree and is used to make all sorts of things from chocolate bars and biscuits, to cosmetics, toothpastes and shampoos. Rainforest destruction for palm oil is a disaster for wildlife, people and our climate. Deforestation and peatland destruction, which are major sources of greenhouse gas emissions, has pushed Indonesia into the top tier of global emitters, alongside the United States of America and China.
The trail of destruction leads all the way from the forests to our shopping carts thanks to household brands like Oreo cookies’ makers, Mondelez.
Mondelez is one of the biggest buyers of palm oil worldwide and uses it to make Oreo cookies - one of the most sold in the world and Mondelez´s top product. Oreo’s makers want to be seen as caring about dropping deforestation from their supply chain. They co-chair the Consumer Goods Forum´s Palm Oil Working Group and have a prominent role in the RSPO (Round Table of Responsible Palm Oil) - however they continue to use palm oil from rainforest-destroyers and there is no end in sight for this.
A Greenpeace investigation highlighted in September this year that 22 out of the 25 most problematic palm oil producer groups in Indonesia are in Mondelez’ supply chain data for 2017. Between them, these producers destroyed an 70.000 of rainforests - an area the size of Chicago, the city where Mondelez is headquartered.
Wilmar - who provide Mondelez with a lot of their palm oil - is the world’s largest palm oil trader, responsible for around 40% of global trade. Despite promises to clean up how their palm oil is produced, a Greenpeace investigation revealed that Wilmar was buying from 18 of 25 palm oil groups that have cleared a total of 130,000ha of rainforest since 2015. Not only does Wilmar trade palm oil from more destructive producers than most of its competitors, but it is often their primary route to market.
If Wilmar starts losing its biggest customers - like Mondelez - it will have no choice but to change its ways. Wilmar is so big that other companies watch what it does closely.
So we are now turning up the volume and telling the world’s top selling cookie makers to step up and drop dirty palm oil traders like Wilmar. If we can force Wilmar to change its dirty ways then other palm oil.
Meet at the Harold Wilson statue outside Huddersfield train station.