Months ago, forest destroyer Sinar Mas told industry peers that it would formally respond to issues raised by a Greenpeace report. After mountains of bad press and losing business, many had hoped the palm oil, paper, and coal giant would use this moment to come clean, admit mistakes and move forward to improve its business.
Unfortunately, Sinar Mas is not showing any signs of doing that.
Sinar Mas was meant to publish an audit into its own activities by the end of June. They baulked and postponed until late July. Now, they are saying it will be August 10th.
In the meantime, Sinar Mas has hired PR firm Bell Pottinger to help present their greenwash. Bell Pottinger recently did public relations work for Trafigura, the oil trading company who was recently convicted and fined for illegally transporting toxic waste to the Ivory Coast. Classy clientele!
Anticipating that Sinar Mas will try to greenwash the results of their flawed audit, Greenpeace just released (more!) fresh evidence that notorious forest destroying practices continue unabated and in direct violation of the company’s own environmental commitments on protecting forests and peatlands. The report, Empires of Destruction, contains evidence that Sinar Mas is clearing rainforest and peatland areas on the island of Borneo. Further photographic evidence shows Sinar Mas recently cleared rainforest orangutan habitat. While Sinar Mas talks about protecting rainforests and peatlands, its actions speak louder, and tell a different story.
But, it is not just what Sinar Mas has done in the past that should cause alarm – it is what it plans to do in the future. In addition the report details how Sinar Mas plans to expand its empire of destruction even further. Last week, the Sinar Mas palm oil division, Golden Agri Resources, confirmed plans to expand into an additional 2.5 million acres
With wildlife like the orangutan and Sumatran tiger being pushed towards extinction, the Paradise Forests cannot afford to continue to be the victim of Sinar Mas’s ever expanding empire.
The good news is that Nestle, Kraft, Unilever, HSBC, and other prominent companies are distancing themselves from Sinar Mas. Until Sinar Mas is no longer involved in destroying rainforests and peatlands, other companies who still purchase from them – like fast food companies Burger King, Dunkin’ Donuts and Pizza Hut – should take similar measures. Take a moment now to tell those companies to stop serving up forest destruction!
For the forest,
Given that global warming pollution has officially fallen from the agenda of the Senate, legislative proposals on the table to reduce the political, economic, and environmental impact of the oil industry provide an opportunity for Congress to slightly vindicate itself. On Friday the House passed legislation that finally removes special protections that oil companies have received for decades, such as limitation on liability for the damage caused by oil spills, exemptions from environmental review, and the ability to avoid US safety standards altogether. In light of the BP oil disaster, passage of these policies should be a forgone conclusion.
The Senate is expected to vote soon, maybe tomorrow, on it’s own package of policies in response to the Gulf disaster. The House passed the bill 209 to 193. With an astounding 30 Reps not voting, including 21 GOP, it is possibly a good sign for the Senate vote this week, as it may mean many conservative Representatives felt it politically impossible to vote no.
At the same time, it was not a disappointment, but a relief, that the Senate Majority Leader concluded the Senate should take a break from proposals to cap global warming pollution. It is shocking that this announcement to end the effort to solve the world's most dire and pressing problem comes with five months left in 2010. However, the Senate level of ambition to pass effective climate policy has waned from weak to damaging. With the gluts of industry giveaways, the latest bill drafts proposing a carbon cap exemplify that the legislative effort is carjacked by polluting industry lobbyists. If they have truly stopped trying for now, Congress must not think that they can simply pick up where they left off, because they are nowhere near producing legislation to overhaul America's economy to become modern, competitive, and sustainable.
This election season, members of Congress owe it to their children's future to use their campaigns to build momentum for energy policy that keeps the planet livable. What this Congress will have failed to produce is a set of policies that contains three broad elements that dissipated from legislative proposals in the Senate.
First, Congress must campaign for slashing global warming pollution in a manner that is fast and furious. We need to do whatever it takes. This is not about balancing the required efforts and bail outs of polluting industry. It is about taking deadly serious the pollution that made 2010 the hottest year on record. It is about stopping perverse subsidies that provide seven times more public funding for coal, oil, and gas than for renewable energy sources like wind, solar, and geothermal.
Second, Congress must campaign for significant financial assistance to help poor countries adapt to the devastating climate changes occurring already, and to develop cleanly, so that our efforts at home to protect the planet are not in vain. International climate financing is part of a fair and reasonable commitment from the United States, a wealthy country with the greatest historical share of global warming pollution, and is vitally necessary for achieving an effective global climate change agreement.
Third, Congress must campaign to protect and encourage the use of all existing tools for reducing global warming pollution, which includes laws they passed decades ago like the Clean Air Act. The Clean Air Act is the reason why the administration can now require long-overdue pollution abatement technologies for the nation's dirtiest smokestacks, and why efficiency standards for America's cars will not be pitifully behind requirements in China. Members of Congress who are serious about stopping climate catastrophe will provide encouragement and support for other public officials, such as in state legislatures, the EPA, and the White House, to act quickly on this global emergency.
I arrived in Dalian on the day of the funeral for firefighter Zhang Liang, who drowned beneath the thick crude when his crew jumped into the ocean — without safety gear — to attempt, in vain, to fix an underwater pipe. Our lead photographer, Jiang He, who by now has reached legendary status globally for capturing the final seconds of Zhang's life, continued to cover the very emotional moments of this oil spill disaster.
Colleagues described how over 30,000 people lined the streets of Dalian to honor Zhang. And judging from Jiang He’s photos, there were many outpourings of grief for his untimely death, at the age of 25. People talked about whispers of anger from Dalian residents and firefighters against the corporations responsible for this tragic human and environmental disaster. And of their utter callousness: in the evening of the same day, a fancy celebratory dinner was held in one of Dalian’s classiest hotels for the leaders of Dalian PetroChina. A large banner with grammatically incorrect Chinese welcomed them to the “fire rescue live event.”
See more images from the Dalian oil spill
The spill in Dalian is yet another reminder that oil is a dirty business, and the only way to stop future spills is to leave the oil in the ground. Enough is enough. Sign our petition to Congress telling them that now is the time for a permanent ban on ALL new drilling.
There are many contradictions in America’s Energy Policy. One that’s come down the pipe recently is just how little we as a society rely upon aggregated costs when determining how expensive coal is.
You’ve heard the talking points: “Coal is cheap and we’ve sure got a lot of it;” “Coal is energy security;” “Coal work provides good quality jobs for lots of folks.”
Well, not exactly.
There is a tremendous human, environmental and governmental cost to coal that is not reflected in its market price. Instead, these costs are borne by society.
Coal is only cheap if you externalize costs. For example, some externalized costs include: air quality costs (like increased rates of asthma, air opacity, poor air quality, coal fires, etc.), the costs of unsafe mining conditions (deforestation, soil erosion, black lung, and the human cost of tragedies like what we recently saw in West Virginia, and the environmental costs of disposal (leaching coal ash ponds, leaking waste destroying fish stocks and agriculture, acid mine drainage).
This is a short list in what is a very large problem. The true cost of coal is in fact very, very high.
Importantly, the debate has heated up recently on one very important aspect of the coal chain of custody: coal ash disposal.
On June 21st, the EPA gave us, the people, 90 days to comment on a federal rule for coal ash disposal. For those that don’t know, coal ash is the residue captured from the chimneys of coal-fired power plants. It contains dangerous pollutants like arsenic, mercury, lead, and a host of other heavy substances and heavy metals. In short, it’s filthy and its never been regulated.
Coal ash impoundments are routinely placed close to schools, residences, and some of the most pristine and beautiful spots in this nation. We have to tell the EPA to act responsibly for both human and environmental health and safety.
To that end, the EPA has given us two choices for its federal rule. One proposal is good and the other is very bad. The first proposal would classify coal ash as a hazardous waste, which it is. The other would classify coal ash as non-hazardous. To classify coal ash as non-hazardous would run contrary to the EPA’s own findings, playing right into the hands of polluting industry.
We need to tell the EPA that we support regulating coal ash as a "special waste" under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Coal Ash is hazardous waste; it destroys communities, destroys our ecosystem, and, unless regulated, will continue to do so in increasing amounts.
The time to act on coal ash is now. Help us get to our target of 10,000 signatures by signing our petition telling the EPA to regulate coal ash as a hazardous substance.
If you're a fan of forests, you've probably heard a lot recently about the Greenpeace Paradise Forest campaign. In particular, you may have heard about the giant conglomerate Sinar Mas which dominates the palm oil industry in Indonesia. Greenpeace has documented Sinar Mas repeatedly breaking industry guidelines, Indonesian law and its own public statements, razing rainforests to the ground in its race to produce palm oil. The growing controversy around their role in destroying rainforests crucial to endangered wildlife like orangutans and Sumatran tigers has led companies like Nestle, Kraft and Unilever to start cutting Sinar Mas palm oil out of their supply chains.
Sinar Mas is a huge conglomerate, and palm oil is only one of its businesses...and only one of the ways it destroys rainforests. Asia Pulp & Paper – it’s giant paper branch – is one of the largest paper companies in the world, and one of the worst threats to rainforests and carbon-rich peatlands in Indonesia.
A new Greenpeace report released today exposes the destructive practices of APP and shines a light on the companies that are still doing business Sinar Mas. The report also counters recent APP greenwash, including its claim that its suppliers “only develop least valuable degraded forests and denuded [barren] wasteland.” Pulping the Planet shows that the company is still sourcing from critical orangutan and Sumatran tiger habitat such as the Bukit Tigapulu Forest Landscape and Kerumutan Peat Forest. The report details how that rainforest and peatland destruction is also causing huge amounts of climate pollution.
You can read the report here (you’ll need Adobe Reader and some patience to download the report since it’s a pretty big file).
The report also draws attention to companies like Pizza Hut, Burger King and Dunkin’ Donuts that Sinar Mas listed as key global customers in 2009. With leading food companies like Nestle, Kraft and Unilever taking action to sever business ties with rainforest-destroying companies, you have to wonder what fast-food companies are waiting for...are they waiting for activist orangutans to show up at their door? That could be arranged!
Give fast food companies a wake up call. Click here to tell them to stop serving up rainforest destruction!
For the forests,
Posted on behalf of Bessie Rose, GOT Spring 10 Alum:
I've just returned from the most life changing experience I've had yet in my 19 years on this beautiful Earth. The experience I speak of is the Greenpeace Organizing Term. This semester, also called the GOT, provides students that have a passion for environmental activism, organizing, or are just curious about environmental issues in general an outlet to turn their concern into action.When I signed up for the GOT, I’ll admit, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting myself into. Once I had completed the interview, and then been accepted, I realized my vision – to act on something I cared deeply about – would become a reality.
Some major highlights for me were the campaign simulation, the trainings, and the expedition trip. The campaign simulation gave each student two days to prepare, plan and implement a hypothetical environmental campaign on their campus or in their community using the tools we had gained while on the GOT.
It was hard but rewarding work, and after completion of the simulation, my confidence in my ability to run an environmental campaign increased ten-fold.
Our expedition trip to Canada to bear witness to the tar sands was perhaps the most eye-opening experience for me while on the GOT. Before leaving for the trip we spent weeks studying the tar sands.
We learned just how detrimental the tar sands are both to the land which contains large amounts of Canada’s wetlands and vast amounts of biodiversity, and also for the people including indigenous populations whose rights have been endlessly violated by oil companies.
Once we got to Canada, we went on an exclusive tour through the tar sands. Along with the DC GOT class and Greenpeace Canada, we successfully planned and carried out an action in front of the BP headquarters in Calgary.
Our action coincided with BP’s annual general meeting in London and other protests going on as part of the “BP Fortnight of Shame” to re-brand BP as an environmentally destructive company and demand that they divest from tar sands development.
It’s hard to encompass exactly what the Greenpeace Organizing Term did for me in a few paragraphs. I want to say that if you decide to join the GOT, I promise you won’t be disappointed.
The GOT has and taught me how to align my beliefs with action that matters. For me, that’s the core of hope. And that, in itself, is a marvelous victory.
-Bessie Rose, Greenpeace Organizing Term Spring 2010 Alum
Our message, delivered on Dell’s campus with an enormous banner suspended from the roof, was addressed to CEO Michael Dell and read: “Michael, What the Dell? Delete Toxics Now.” The protest follows similar demonstrations against Dell at its offices in Bangalore, Amsterdam, and Copenhagen. Greenpeace is pressuring Dell around the world to let the company and the public know that while Dell's competitors are phasing out the use polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic and brominated flame retardants (BFRs), Dell is falling behind and is contributing to the mounting e-waste problem that is poisoning communities in places like China and in West African nations.
PVC and BFRs are highly toxic and can release dioxin, a known carcinogen, when burned. With the growing tsunami of electronic waste being shipped to developing countries for open burning, workers who deal with e-waste are at the most significant risk for health impacts. Eliminating these substances will decrease exposure to workers and consumers and will increase the recyclability and reusability of electronic products.
The amount of electronic products discarded globally has skyrocketed recently, with 20-50 million tons generated every year. If such a huge figure is hard to imagine, think of it like this: If the estimated amount of e-waste generated every year would be put into containers on a train, it would go all the way around the world. E-waste now makes up five percent of all municipal solid waste worldwide, nearly the same amount as all plastic packaging, but much more hazardous. And it's not only developed countries that generate e-waste: Asia discards an estimated 12 million tons each year.
E-waste is now the fastest growing component of the municipal solid waste stream, due largely to people upgrading their mobile phones, computers, televisions, audio equipment and printers more frequently than ever before. In Europe, e-waste is increasing at three to five percent a year, almost three times faster than the total waste stream. Developing countries are also expected to triple their e-waste production over the next five years.
Greenpeace and Consumer Electronics
For the past five years, Greenpeace has been campaigning for electronics companies to reduce toxic chemicals usage and improve take-back and responsible recycling programs. This involves regular meetings with many of these companies to exchange information and discuss company progress and relevant industry developments.
Our primary tool for tracking the progress of consumer electronics companies is the Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics, which is updated quarterly. In the latest version of the Guide, both Apple and HP moved up, their scores fueled by having new computer lines free of PVC and BFRs, demonstrating the technical feasibility and supply chain readiness of producing alternatives to these hazardous substances. Dell stands in 10th place, having been penalized in the previous ranking for its backtracking on PVC/BFR phase out.
There is still time for Dell to do the right thing and honor its commitment to phase out toxic PVC and BFRs. As an electronics industry leader, Dell’s move would be seen as a true game changer. People concerned with Dell’s toxics backtracking can take action.
The sticky, hot oil was so deep that my boots sank three inches and nearly came off when I took my next step.
Where the beach looked clean, I let my eyes follow baby crabs a foot more on shore where I saw the wall of debris and grass saturated four inches deep with thick, reddish-brown oil.
Last Thursday marked one month since the Deepwater Horizon exploded, killing 11 people and setting in motion an unfolding, unprecedented disaster in the U.S.
What was so unsettling in the Gulf was that when I was down there I couldn't tell where President Obama began and BP ended. Greenpeace boats full of reporters were physically blocked by the coastguard and forbidden to take pictures of the oil on the beach. When asked why, the coast guard staff replied: "It's not our policy. It's BP's policy." The President's response to the spill, until yesterday when Lisa Jackson demanded that the toxic dispersants be replaced (kudos to her for this), has seemed like a page out of BP's playbook of focusing on image damage control as much as oil spill damage control. He has not batted an eye in defending further off-shore oil drilling and has withheld from the public the scale of the problem.
I was heartened to hear that the President called for truck mile per gallon standards be upgraded and that fuel economy standards should be strengthened in the long-run for regular cars. The big question is if the President will virtually phase out the use of oil in cars by 2030 or continue down Ken Salazar's misguided drill baby drill policy.
The Coast Guard's "Nightmare Scenario"
As leviathans of underwater oil move their way up the East Coast, President Obama is opening the door to what the Coast Guard called its "nightmare scenario" - drilling in the Arctic.
Shell Oil plans to begin exploratory drilling in Alaska's Arctic Ocean this July. According to the Coast Guard, the pristine Chukchi and Beaufort Seas are extremely remote, freezing cold, covered in darkness for much of the year, and the water is incredibly choppy, making a spill a "nightmare." The rig being shipped right now to the Arctic is older than the BP Deepwater rig that exploded. Regardless, President Obama and Secretary of Interior Salazar continue to push the interests of big oil companies.
This moment will require that the President do more than say that he is frustrated with BP and (rightly) pointing the finger. President Obama should ban all offshore oil drilling and call for an end to the use of oil in our cars by 2030.
Stopping Shell's drilling plan would be a good, first indicator that the President is moving away from the Salazar-BP oil policy. Getting America's cars and trucks off of oil by 2030 would prove that the President is finally actually leading.
Today Greenpeace activists took a stand on the ship the Harvey Explorer to send a message to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. The activists used oil from the spill to paint the message "Arctic Next?" on the bridge of the ship, which is scheduled to depart for Alaska to support drilling operations in July.
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